Jomari Villani manages the Hawksbill restaurant at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. During his free time he can be found tinkering with and racing his collection of radio-controlled, nitro-fuelled cars and even something called truggies.
How did you get started with this hobby?
aIt started with electric cars. Everyone starts with electric cars then [some] eventually try to get more action, more speed. My first small car is like an F350 pickup truck. It's powered by batteries, but it's not too fast, so eventually I went to nitro.
Nitro cars are powered with nitro fuel.
Sounds fast and furious. What speeds do these cars clock?
They can go fast, like 90kph. My racing class buggies and truggies can go 45 to 50kph.
Did you say truggies?
Truggies are a combination of a truck and a buggie. It's going to be a little bigger.
How often do you race?
Whenever I have time after work. What I do is set up, back home, a small desk. All your parts are there, and you're trying to fix the cars and trying to release. You have to enjoy it. In food and beverage there's no holiday for us. Christmas, I have to be here. New Year's, I have to be here. I grab the opportunity to go to the gym, play golf or do this - preparing my gadgets.
How much does this cost?
You can buy a kit for up to US$5,000 (Dh18,365) … I'm not in the beginner class, I like the advanced ones. To buy a kit without engines or nitro fuel, mufflers or things like that it would cost you $800. Probably an engine for another $400, plus the tyres. It's a serious hobby. It's not cheap.
And how many of these cars do you have now?
I've got one in the Philippines for me to use. I've got about seven or eight here. Some of them are not for pro-racing. I'm hoping now to get into pro-racing kits, for professionals.
Can you race in Abu Dhabi?
Yes, there are competitions we organise probably once or twice a year. Last year, there was a race organised near an ice rink in Abu Dhabi. There were different nationalities: the States, Malaysia, a local guy, some Asians and Europeans. I was third.
What do your coworkers think of your hobby?
Different people have different ways of releasing stress after work, and some of my team will sometimes join me on the track and help me. I do learn how [others on the track, in the food and beverage industry] manage their days and their people as well. That helps me a lot.
Does your family think this is a little crazy?
No. They know at least I'm racing on the race track - not on the road. Whenever I drive my car, I drive carefully. On the track I drive extreme, as in I do jumps. Sometimes you damage your kit. You just release.