Erik Evans

1st American (20yr old) to Win British GT4 Racing Championship

Season  1Episode  445 MinutesDecember 9, 2023
Click to Watch Youtube Video

Get ready to rev your engines and feel the adrenaline rush in this adrenaline-fueled episode of Interesting Humans!

Join host Jeff Hopeck as he straps in for a heart-pounding ride alongside none other than Erik Evans, a 20-year-old dynamo who’s been tearing up the track since he was just a teenager.

Hold onto your seats as Erik takes us on a white-knuckle journey through his electrifying rise in the world of racing. From shattering track records in his very first karting race to clinching victory as the 2023 British GT4 Champion, Erik’s story is a testament to his unwavering passion, sheer determination, and raw talent.

But it’s not all smooth sailing on the racetrack; Erik shares the gritty details of the challenges he’s faced along the way and how he’s overcome them with grit and grace. From the highs of victory to the lows of setbacks, Erik’s resilience shines through, proving that true champions are forged in the fires of adversity.

So, buckle up and prepare to be swept away by Erik’s captivating tale of triumph and tenacity. Tune in now to discover the secrets behind his meteoric rise, from his relentless mindset and expert coaching to the grueling training regimen that fuels his quest for glory.

It’s a story you won’t want to miss!


Key takeaways from Erik:

  1. Set clear, concise goals for yourself. Then make a list on how you can achieve them.
  2. Be confident. Be confident in your knowledge. Be confident in your skills. Be confident in your training.

 


 

Tune in to hear more inspiring stories from fascinating individuals.

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Timestamps:

00:01: Car catching on fire story.
00:33: Podcast and Erik’s introduction.
01:08: An overview of Erik’s career.
03:04: Taking his career to Europe.
06:11: What it’s like in a race car.
07:50: Erik’s childhood experiences.
09:02: What is carting?
10:44: Adrenaline junkie and racing.
13:40: Coaching and mentorship.
15:00: Almost winning a national championship.
18:52: Mental toughness and training.
23:23: Mental toughness and focus.
26:17: Setting clear, concise goals.
30:41: Taking a year off racing.
33:29: Hyper car class in endurance racing.
38:26: Car catching on fire.
40:22: The physicality of racing.
43:09: Wearing diapers in races.


Transcript:

Introduction snippet:

Jeff:

Your car caught on fire?

Erik:

Yeah, my car caught on fire. I was doing a practice down in Miami homestead. I think the oil line burst on top of the engine and it set the engine bay aflame and going through like turn one at like 130 mile an hour and all of a sudden all the power in the car just shuts off, the engine shuts off. I’m like, okay, that’s weird.

And then I look in my mirror and all I see is this big ball of orange and red flames. I’m just like, I should probably pull off the track and get out of the car.

Transcript:

Jeff:

Welcome to another episode of Interesting Humans. Today I have Eric Evans, and that’s Eric with a K, no C, as he says, the cool way to spell it. Eric was born with the passion to go fast.

So folks, imagine having your child going 150 miles an hour in a race car at 15 years old. They’re not even old enough to drive on the roads. Eric’s going to unpack just his story.

He’s 20 years old currently, how he did it, the mindset behind it, all the coaching, training, education. It’s a fascinating story, no matter where you are in life. Eric, give us some broad strokes of your career.

Erik:

Yeah. So in, uh, 2017 and about June, I, I did my first carding race, uh, which I, uh, I won and I set the track record. And from there, you know, uh, as my dad will tell you, that was the most expensive day of his life. Um, and, uh, so, you know, from there I progressed, uh, I only ran half the season that year, cause I started halfway through the season. Uh, I got third in the championship there at Atlanta motor sports park for that class.

And then. The next year, I moved up. I won two local championships. I almost won a national championship. I got third overall in the national championship. That was in 2018.

And then 2019, I tried to go back and win the national championship. Unfortunately, it was not really in my year. Bad luck. There were some weekends I struggled a little bit. Uh, but in 2019, I also started testing, uh, formula four, which is like the first step to F formula one, um, preparing to do a full season of it going into 2020.

Uh, which, you know, looking back at now is like, whoa. Um, but yeah, so I did the full season of, of formula four, um, and, um, 2020, uh, where I finished six in the championship with three podiums, a race win. Um, and then I moved the next year, uh, in 2021, I did a junior IndyCar and the USF 2000 championship.

Uh, but then, uh, at the end of. Of 2021, we were like, okay, well, we don’t really want to do the open wheel system anymore. And, uh, we were like, well, what’s something we could do?

And then we were scrambling around. We heard about this championship called British GT. Uh, we were scambling around but this was like at the last minute so we couldn’t find a ride or whatever.

So I took 2022, um, off. Uh, I spent four or five months training in Spain with one of my good friends, uh, you know, doing three workouts a day, five days a week, uh, really just getting in the best shape of my life, uh, and training racing-wise and then at the end of 2022, I got my shot to prove myself in a British GT race, uh, with Academy Motorsport and a Mustang GT four car.

Uh, I guess I approved, I impressed them enough that they invited me back for the next year to run the British GT championship in the GT four class. For 2023 and, uh, and this year has been, uh, an amazing year, you know, no one expected anything from me because I had never raced GT cars before I was an American, which they looked down on over there just because the Europeans think that they’re better.

And, uh, you know, they do have the track record to prove it. Um, but, uh, I wanted to make sure that I changed the look at American drivers and. This year I was very thankful that I was very, very fast and me and my team put together an awesome program and we went and won the British GT Championship this year.

And I became the first ever American to win the class in British GT, which was just absolutely amazing. And now, uh, next year I can confirm that we’re going to be running the European championship in GT four with the, with the new Mustang dark horse race car that Ford’s coming out with for next year.

And I’ll also be redo trying to repeat, uh, the championship in British GT at the same time. Now, why did you choose, why did you choose that circuit? So I chose to go to Europe, uh, because you know, much like the soccer that, uh, they are better and, uh, not to say that, you know, Americans are slow or anything, but, uh, I just think that the level of competition, you’ll find more guys at a high level rather than just like a couple of guys that can match that.

And I said that I wanted to be the best. So I said, why not go compete against the best and learn from them?

Jeff:

Incredible. How does the ranking work?

Erik:

So unfortunately, there’s not really like a world-level ranking system just because you know, there’s so many different championships like, you know, you’re trying to compare a Formula One guy to a NASCAR guy.

You know, I guarantee if you threw one of the formula one drivers in a NASCAR, they’re going to struggle. If you throw a NASCAR driver in a 401 car, they’re going to struggle. You know, it’s just, I don’t think there’s, there’s not really a way to compare like who is actually the best.

There’s just not a way just because all the championships and the different types of cars and different types of racing, there is not really like a ranking system, but. I do know that, you know, I’ve proven it this year by going out and winning a very high level international championship that I can, I can KO compete with the best in the world.

Jeff:

Man. Congratulations. Oh, this folks, this is going to be an incredible podcast to just unpack and get to know more about Eric and his career. And we’re just excited for it. All right, Eric. So for somebody who is used to going 140, 150 miles an hour at 17 years old, try to get us in the seat of one of those cars.

Erik:

Uh, well, uh, you know, it’s a race cars, very brutal environment. Uh, you know, it’s very stressful, very hot, a lot of stuff going on mentally. Um, lots of vibrations and stuff, but you know, it’s, um, it’s pretty crazy because the, um, the speed, you actually don’t really feel the speed just because the, you know, they’re built to go that fast or they’re very comfortable at that speed.

But. It’s, it’s when you arrive at the corner and you get all the breaking G forces, uh, all that stuff going in. I mean, cause we’ll probably pull like three or four lateral G’s, uh, underneath the brakes. And then you’re going through the corner, the, you know, you’re on the edge of the grip of the tires, a lot of vibrations.

The suspension is really, really stiff. And, and on top of that, you know, you’re trying to manage a car that’s on the edge of. Physics of what it can do and you’re like inches millimeters apart from other cars doing that at like a hundred some mile an hour and It can also be like 135 degrees inside the car I mean, it’s just a very stressful environment and very raw Environment with it’s not comfortable.

Yeah, and I I guess that’s kind of what I like about it is that you push yourself and you push the physics of what these top manufacturers give you. Sure. And I mean, it’s just a broad, brutal environment.

Jeff:

Yeah. Fascinating. So let’s go all the way back. Let’s go back and we don’t have to go that many years back because you’re 20. Just early childhood memories. What were things like for you? What were you into?

Erik:

Uh, well, you know, funny enough, um, basically since day one, I’ve just had a fascination with cars and, and, uh, and, uh, the army actually, cause my, my mom was an officer in the army. So I always grew up when I was like, ah, from like, basically as early as I could speak to about, I don’t know, probably like seven or eight. I wanted to be a soldier.

Um, when I do that stuff, cause I looked up to my mom so much. doing all that stuff. But I always liked cars and racing at the same time. And then when I became eight and a half or nine, I was like, I want to be a NASCAR driver.

But that was just growing up. I played lots of baseball, basically, since I was big enough to hold a bat. I mean, I was just playing baseball. And it got to a point where I was playing on select teams, going to Cooperstown, New York, doing all that stuff.

And I played all the way up and even into my freshman year of high school. I started carding around 14 and never looked back from there. I know what it is just for the audience in case somebody’s wondering. Yeah. Uh, so carting is like the intro to motorsport.

Uh, they’re basically like little, uh, chassis with about a 13, 14 horsepower engine on them. Uh, you start out and actually, you know, some of these kids, guys are in formula one, uh, started about like five or six. Wow. Uh, so I actually started at a quite late age of 14, which to most people sounds like that’s not that late, but in the most sports world, that’s pretty late.

Jeff:

Sure. Wow. All right. So you’re on a little cart. It’s got a, what’d you say the horsepower was?

Erik:

It was like 13 to 14 to 14. You can do a two stroke ones. It’s a little bit close to a motorcycle engine. They’ll have like 25 horsepower, which are really quick.

Jeff:

What’s that top speed?

Erik:

Uh, it’s about 75, 80 mile an hour. Uh, you know, cause you, you strap, you know, 20, 25 horsepower doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you realize it’s only a 300 pound little cart. It’s like a rocket ship.

Jeff:

Right. Yeah. And where can somebody do that at?

Erik:

Uh, you can do it all over the country. Uh, there’s a pretty, pretty big, uh, it’s pretty big sport around here in the U S but I started up at Atlanta motor sports park and, um, you know, uh, I started up there and, uh, progress through the different classes and levels that they have winning championships, every level.

And, uh, No, but just, you know, you can go on Google search up where your local cart track is. And, uh, most of them have like, uh, a way that you can get out and like, uh, a rental car, a concession car, as we call them, which is like what you would do at like K one speed or whatever, but they have them at these outdoor tracks and that’s how you can get into it.

Jeff:

So at this point in your life, would you say, were you attracted to speed or the tactical part of racing? What did you like as a child?

Erik:

Well, I’m not gonna lie, I always just liked the cars. And then when I got to drive one, I was like, whoa, just being on, I guess you could call it adrenaline junkie, but like basically just being on the edge of what these things can do is just really, you know, it gets the adrenaline going. It feels really invigorating to go like, yeah, I can dance with, you know, in some cases the edge of death.

Right. You know, it’s pretty cool. And, uh, that’s, you know, you know, the cars are really safe. So the death isn’t really as big of a risk anymore, but you know, it’s the same reason, you know, people go and free climb up the side of a cliff.

Right. With no ropes that I can’t imagine, you know, but then some people look at me and like, I can’t imagine that. Yeah.

Jeff:

So you’re 14, you say to your, you say to your parents, you want to go out and race. And then they look into carts and they see, Oh, these things go 80 miles an hour, which is fast. What’s their response?

Erik:

Well, you know, that started the arguments started at about 10. I was like, I really want to get into racing. And, um, you know, my dad went and looked at one of our neighbors who used to live here, uh, who was doing carding at an international level.

And my dad was looking at all this stuff, like the speed of it, the cost of it. And he was like, no way. Okay. Absolutely, no way. But then we found out there used to be an Andretti’s over in Roswell, and they had a summer camp for a whole week.

You were there all day, either just carding or at the arcade. Like, what could be better, you know, for a kid who enjoys cars or racing? And I did that for a couple years, and it got to the point where I was quicker than the guys teaching it. And stuff like that.

And, uh, you know, finally after I think, yeah, like three or four years of absolutely just begging my dad to let me go racing. Uh, we went up to AMP and did like a, they have like a cart school where they put you in like an actual go-kart. Uh, and the, uh, the instructor that day, his name is Xander Clements.

Uh, he pulled me and my dad aside. Uh, this was probably, you know, the early 2017. And, uh, he pulls me in my dad and silent. Listen, he looked at my dad. He’s like, you gotta get this kid in a proper go-kart with a proper team and start like actually racing.

Jeff:

Wow. So he saw, what do you think, or did they ever tell you? What did he say?

Erik:

He never told me exactly. Um, I’m still good friends with Xander to this day, but, uh, yeah, he never told me exactly. He said, you know, sometimes you just get this feeling when you see someone do something for the first time and how quickly they can get up to a certain level.

He goes, he goes, you just had like this, this feeling that was like, this kid’s going to be good.

Jeff:

All right. Coaching and mentorship. I mean, there’s got to be a tremendous amount that goes into it. Walk us through some of that.

Erik:

Yeah. So, um, you know, this kind of really just started as soon as that I was done with that, that cart school day with Xander. Uh, he took me to his team. Uh, which was DCT, uh, carding at the time. And, um, uh, you know, so, uh, he got me in contact with the owner and, uh, the owner’s kid and, and, uh, they put together a go cart for me and, uh, we went into my first race with no practice, no practice.

And, uh, you know, uh, inch in my first ever race, I won by about a five second gap and I set the new track record in my first ever race. Oh my goodness. Uh, and therefore, you know, that’s when all the stuff kicked in.

Uh, Darren Tebby, who was the owner of the team, uh, really mentored, uh, really mentored me on, on the, the cart setups and stuff. Cause there’s so much setups that goes into, uh, into like the tires and all that stuff to be quick.

And then Xander, who was the guy teaching the coach school and, and Darren Tebby’s son, Connor, uh, They both took on the facility of coaching me through carding and we got all the way to the point where I was competing for a national championship.

Jeff:

Wow. What year is that?

Erik:

That was 2018. I almost won a national championship. I had a little bit of bad luck that didn’t go my way. So I ended up finishing third in the national championship. Uh, but yeah, to go from just starting out in 2017 to the end of 2018, almost winning a national championship is quite, quite a big, steep, uh, progression.

Jeff:

Where was that race at?

Erik:

Uh, so it’s a, it’s a whole season. Uh, so like, uh, you know, the, you get points for where you finish in each race and that adds up over the season, whoever has the most points at the end of the season, obviously wins the championship.

Uh, so it started down in Ocala, Florida, went up to Charlotte, North Carolina. Um, or I’m trying to think where else it went and went up to, uh, Indiana. Uh, I just kind of all over, all over the country, essentially, not really out to the West coast, but.

Yeah. Um, it did that. And, uh, to be so close to winning a national championship, like my, my, basically in one year of carding is ridiculous. And it took a lot of coaching effort. Cause there’s a lot of things that I was doing for the very first time that I didn’t quite understand.

And, and, uh, yeah, lots of mentorship from, from Darren who owned the team and, and Xander and Connor for coaching me cause, and they each had their own style. Uh, which kind of may gave me the best of both worlds because one was kind of the brute force go for it, you know, move people out of the way, uh, kind of guy.

And the other guy was the more finesse, the technique and the art of driving. Right. So I got the best, the best of both worlds, which kind of made me a really big threat out on the track.

Jeff:

That’s phenomenal. All right. So you go, so your cart for a couple of years? Yeah, yeah. Graduated or what happened?

Erik:

So, uh, essentially I was actually out just carting with, uh, one of my teammates at the time. It was a rainy day and, uh, learning, learning, uh, control of a vehicle in the rain while going fast is, is quite an art form. So we tried to go out as much as possible when it was raining.

And he just happened to know someone who was at the track. His name was Dan Mitchell, and he was starting a F4 team, which is Junior Formula One. It’s like the first step to Formula One. He was starting one, and he really liked me, and he gave me a test day.

Um, and, uh, yeah, I guess I did good enough that he invited me back, uh, for a second day. Uh, but, and, you know, and then that’s really when the men short, the, the starting of my career in cars really started. And, um, yeah, that was, uh, about June, 2019 when, when I did my first test day in a, in a race car.

Um, which, uh, you know, you take a kid who’s never driven a car before in his life and you throw them into the first step to formula one. It’s a pretty big jump. Um, but yeah, no, it was cool. And then, uh, you know, Dan’s a very hard person to please. He expects everything out of you that, uh, you know, pushes you to your limits. He knows how to push your buttons and he just keeps pushing.

Until you break or you go faster, you know Wow, and you know, I really respect that from them and I loved it because it made me so mentally strong which you really need in this sport to be able to you know, when we’re when we say we’re fighting for you know closely, I mean You know, the closest races, you know, we’ll come down to a thousandth of a second.

You know, that’s one 10th of the time it takes to blink your eye over three miles of a racetrack.

Jeff:

Unbelievable.

Erik:

Which is just absolutely absurd. So, you know, the, the mental fortitude to be absolutely perfect in everything that you do and do it, laugh in, laugh out, you know, for an hour straight while being in such a raw, stressful environment just takes another level of mental toughness.

And it did take a lot of mental training, which I have a mental performance coach now, his name’s Enzo Mucci, who absolutely just, it takes so much.

Jeff:

Yeah. I, and I cannot wait to unpack that. We’re going to get into the mental part of it and the coaching and the training and how they’re doing it. Um, what was it like, what was the difference going from the cart to the, the F4 car? Get us in there.

Erik:

Yeah. So, you know, essentially you’re going from like a little, little go-kart that weighs 300 pounds and goes 80 mile an hour to a full blown formula race car that goes about 140 to 145, uh, and, uh, and corners, you know, it’s got downforce and it’s just gnarly ride.

I mean, it’s such a big jump. Uh, but, and, and then you start with suspension in the mix because go-karts don’t have suspension. Uh, they use the chassis to bending to rotate. Now you add in a gearbox, uh, differential suspension aerodynamics.

It’s a whole different breed of vehicle. Plus the steering so heavy in them, they have a hydraulic brake pedal with no ABS. You have to learn how to, how to hit it with like, I don’t know, like 300 pounds of pressure. And modulate it so that you don’t block the brakes, uh, is quite a lot to throw at someone who’s never done anything like that.

And like, it just, the only way to do it is to go out and drive it. I, you know, you can’t really train for it in any way other than like simulators, but they don’t really do a justice with how raw the actual environment of being in a race car are.

Jeff:

And keep in mind, folks, Eric’s 17, 18, 19 at the time this is going on. That’s one of the reasons why you’re on this show, because it’s truly just interesting to me.

Let’s talk a little bit about the education. What’s your day-to-day? What does this look like? How are you learning? How are they teaching you? Are you talking about in terms of racing or school?

Erik:

Yeah. Let’s talk about, let’s talk about the racing first. Yeah. So, um, my day to day, um, when I was living in England this year, while I was racing over there, uh, we did lots of, uh, I did training five days a week, uh, at this place called Izone driver performance, which is actually at Silverstone, the circuit, uh, in England, which is probably the most famous circuit in the world, uh, other than the Nurburgring.

And, um, Yeah, you know you have to be there at 8 a.m. And if you’re if you’re five minutes early, they’re yelling at you because you’re late you got to be there like 10-15 minutes before you’re actually supposed to be there and you know, they start out today the day with like We talked about how do we channel motivation? What you know, what are your goals for the week? What are your goals for the day?

We go into all that stuff and Um, and, uh, that takes about, you know, 25 minutes to 30 minutes of talking. Um, you know, they have a psych, a mental sports psychiatrist there who’s going through all this stuff. And then, and then right after that, um, we go into, um, what they call a mindfulness session, which you sit in a, in a dark room, um, you know, crisscross applesauce.

And you have to sit there for 30 minutes, just focus on your breathing, feeling your body. Because if like, if you’re able to sit there for like 30 minutes and just take it in and feel around your body, it’s kind of like meditation. And then, you know, after that we would have programs for the day. They have schedules for us.

So, uh, we had hop into a state of the art simulators that they have do a race runs, do qualifying training, do stuff like that. Uh, gym sessions, mental strength sessions, uh, with these things that are meant to test your mental strength. and your like eyesight, your reaction time, there’s just so much that goes into it nowadays. It’s literally a science of being a race car driver now. It’s crazy.

Jeff:

That’s fascinating. How much would you say is mental? How much would you say is physical?

Erik:

Uh, you know, don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy physically. Uh, you know, I do training every day physically wise, but you know, I’d say it’s probably about 80, 20 on the mental side being tougher.

Jeff:

Okay. What is the coaching? You mentioned having like a mental toughness coach or a mental coach. Walk me through an exercise they might do with you.

Erik:

Yeah. So, um, you know, it’s not really like, uh, exercises that they’ll do with us. It’s, it’s, he’s, he teaches you how to use your mind to your advantage. You know, if you’re, let’s say, you know, you just screwed up the corner before, how do you go through and, and train your mind to forget that that just happened? and to not mess up the next one in tenths of a second?

How do you switch your brain from being sad to happy to frustrated back to where you need to be mentally focused? So there’s tricks he’s taught me. If you go through a corner and you mess it up, or you messed up the lap, he’s like, if you just do a little smile, the endorphins that releases get you back into the zone that you need to be in.

And he walks you through all these steps of how to keep yourself at a stable level where you know you can perform and how to stay in that window as much as possible under the extreme stress of the environment that you’re in.

Um, it’s not really like exercises that you like sit there and do, but like the meditation, the mindfulness that they said that that’s one of them, you know, if you can sit with yourself in your own brain for 30 minutes and feel your body out without going to, you know, cause most people, when they sit still and they don’t talk to anyone and they’re not doing anything, you know, their brain starts to go down this path and it usually ends up not that great.

Cause you start thinking about things, but that’s right. Overthinking. I’m overthinking. So I’d really teach you to sit there. Don’t think about anything and just feel what’s going on. Like, you know, can you feel the draft of the AC on your skin? You know, just like feeling around, not focusing on what’s going on in your life, what’s doing this, this.

If you could just sit there and do it, sit there for 30 minutes quietly in a dark room, no phone, nothing, eyes closed, just focus on your breathing and your body. I mean, it adds a lot of stability to your brain and stressful.

Jeff:

That’s incredible. You got to have a favorite movie, I would think.

Erik:

Oh yeah. Yeah. So, uh, my favorite movie is Talladega nights. I absolutely love it. Uh, it’s just funny. I don’t know. It’s great. It’s about racing. It’s probably one of the funniest movies out there. Will Ferrell did an awesome job with it. And, uh, I quote it pretty much daily.

Jeff:

Right. How about, how about books?

Erik:

Um, I have this one book that’s called the warrior’s mind for race drivers by Enzo Mucci, who is my mental performance coach. And, um, I mean, it really goes in depth of how to use your brain and how to use your environment to your advantage, uh, in such a stressful environment and sport in general.

Jeff:

That’s incredible. One or two things, takeaways from the book.

Erik:

You know, set yourself clear, concise goals, make a list on how you can do them. And just, you know, it also teaches you about confidence and not necessarily being like, you know, like super like, Confident as in like you’re the coffee guy, but like being confident in yourself that you can get the job done and how you can twist that to, to make sure that you’re going to compete at the level that you need to be.

And you are sure in your head that you’re supposed to be competing at this high of a level and that you’re meant there and you can win it.

Jeff:

That’s so awesome. How do you think racing affects just your life in general?

Erik:

It affects every part of it. I mean, the travel schedule, the, um, the, you know, the mental preparing this, uh, the physical preparing this, uh, the politics of it, just like any other sport, you know, it basically consumes my entire life. You know, yesterday I was on the phone, you know, talking, you know, cause I just won the British championship. I got.

People calling me out left right and center all wanting me to to race for them But you know in the day some of them some of the offers they give you they promise you the world and give you a speck of dirt, you know, and then you know, so you got to really really be on your game with all this stuff and and

You know, and that’s not even just in the offseason the the season’s the most stressful part, you know, just being able to To be at your high level that you need to be to compete.

Jeff:

Right. And you’re 20 now, right?

Erik:

20 years old. Yeah.

Jeff:

What, what’s your current status education wise? What does all that look like?

Erik:

So, you know, I, I, you know, I’ve graduated high school. I had a pretty normal schooling all the way up until halfway through my, uh, my junior year of high school, um, where I was going to public school all the way up until fifth grade.

Then I went to a private school called St. Francis, which is just a normal private school. Nothing, any crazy sports. Uh, but it was about the sophomore, my sophomore year of high school. My racing career really started taking off cause I started doing formula formula for that year.

And then the next year I was doing stuff, uh, in junior Indy car. And, uh, I started missing a lot of school and, uh, the school started really getting upset with us because I was behind on work because I was traveling so much. I mean, I was still doing my best to get it in when I could.

Uh, but traveling so much and, and, you know, it’s like a job. I can’t like, just like. We’re in the middle of the day in between sessions, be filling out homework. I have like engineering meetings with the guys who run the engineers around the car. I have data sessions with all the data points on stuff.

How can we drive better? How can we make the car better? There’s, there’s autograph sessions. It’s just so much stuff. I can’t, I can’t like just sit there and do my homework in between races. Not like, it’s not like a friends like basketball.

Like you do the game for the day. If you go out to a tournament, you do your game. Then you go back to the hotel and you’re like, whatever. No, this is like a whole, it’s like a job, essentially, even when I was a sophomore in high school. So I just started building up, like getting behind in class.

I mean, I was trying my best, but it was just swamped because, you know, St. Francis was a pretty big academic school, like, so it’s high-level stuff. And so I’m trying to keep up with what we’re currently doing and make up for all the stuff I was doing. just got overloaded and swamped.

I was pulling all-nighters like two or three days a week trying to get schoolwork done. You know, as much, you know, it was hard work and I just got to a point where I was like, I can’t do this anymore. I need something that helps me out.

So I switched over to a school called Eaton Academy, which has a program for actors and athletes who need to have flexible schedules. And it was kind of like a college schedule, like I had this class on this day for like two hours, one-on-one with the teacher.

Uh, and I have it like three days a week. And then if I ever had anything come up, I just had to send in an email, uh, before midnight, the night, the night before, uh, just like, Hey, I can’t make it in a day. This is the reasoning.

And it just allowed me to really unlock my potential with racing and manage school at the same time. Uh, and then I actually, um, my final, my, the final couple of months of my high school, I was actually living in Spain, uh, doing online classes through zoom and stuff.

Jeff:

Wow. Tell us a little about that.

Erik:

Yeah, so in Spain, this was in 2021, I was taking a year off racing just because we wanted to decide what we wanted to do because I did Junior IndyCar the year before. And, uh, well, you know, the unfortunate reality of racing is, is very expensive.

Uh, and we are running out of budget and we weren’t really seeing a future in the open wheel stuff just because the open wheel stuff, you know, to get to, to ND car, you’ll probably spend like six or 7 million to get there. And then. And then they make it all the way to Formula One.

I think the average cost to make it to Formula One is probably like 10, 15 million. It’s crazy numbers. So we took a year off to figure out what we wanted to do. My best friend, Hunter Yaney, who was also racing, he was racing in FIA F3, which travels all around the world with Formula One. Uh, and the team that he was racing for was in Spain and they had a whole gym and trainer, like at the race team.

And he wanted someone to go over to Europe and live with them for a couple of months ago. He wasn’t like, you know, lonely or bored. So I just took the opportunity to go over there and live there and train every day. Um, it was pretty cool experience. I had, uh, A little bit lucky.

We got a beachfront apartment that was about 30 feet from the Mediterranean Sea.

Jeff:

Oh my goodness.

Erik:

Perfect weather. I mean, just southern Spain, just absolutely gorgeous. Yeah.

Jeff:

Oh, special. All right. What are your goals with racing?

Erik:

Uh, my goals was racing is, um, you know, clear and cut. I want to be the best one to do it. That’s clear and cut, you know? So my, my goal right now is I want to go, go win the 24 hours of Lamar and, uh, in France, uh, which is like the biggest endurance race in the world.

Um, and that’s, that’s my next goal. Um, I think I have a couple steps before I can get there just because, you know, that’s just the way you, you know, you, you work your way up to the top. Uh, so, but yeah, that’s my, my big goal is I want to be, you know, when someone says who’s the best endurance driver in the world, I want my name to be in that topic.

Jeff:

Okay, so in endurance, is that different than F1 and all that?

Erik:

Yeah, yeah, it’s quite different. Formula One and IndyCar and all those big series, and NASCAR and all that stuff. So endurance racing are races that are anywhere from three to 24 hours. And no, I don’t do the whole race by myself. You know, we have two or three drivers per car, which really opens up the opportunity for the need of drivers.

Because, you know, Formula One, Yes, it’s the pinnacle of motorsport and you’re going to spend a lot of money to get there. And there’s only 20 guys in the world who get to do it. And, um, it’s, uh, so endurance racing, they have a couple of classes.

They have the hyper car class, which is where manufacturers are essentially allowed to go wild. Uh, they’re basically formula one cars with fenders and a roof. Uh, they’re so fast and, and the fact that they can race for 24 hours at speeds like that is absolutely incredible.

And then. And then you work your way down to the GT3 class, which is what they call GT cars, which will look like the cars that you drive on the road. They’ll have the body work and the manufacturers build them to look like the cars that they have on the road. So you’ll see a Ferrari out there.

You’ll see a Mustang this year. You’ll see a Corvette, Porsche 911. They actually look like the real cars. They’re not, I mean, they’re super quick, but they’re not as quick as the, you know, the hyper cars are basically the one cars, but yeah, there’s, you know, you got three or four or five different races going on and one race.

So it’s, it’s crazy. Um, and you know, you do, and you do that for anywhere from six to 24 hours, grueling race.

Jeff:

That’s awesome. So in your opinion, what, what are the guys that are at the absolute top of the pinnacle? What are they just excellent at?

Erik:

Um, adaptability, being able to adapt to any situation, any car, any tire, uh, and any condition that’s thrown at them. Uh, there’s a lot of guys who can do the same lap, uh, when the conditions are perfect, no one else is on track. It’s the game time, like.

Okay. You’re going out for, you know, the qualifying session, what sets the order for the race? You got two laps to do it. And by the way, on the second lap, it’s going to be raining and you’re on slick tires with no tread. You know, you know, I had a session like this. I had a race like this at the beginning of the season.

Uh, where my teammate, uh, had a nice dry first half of the race. Uh, I get in, everything’s good for like 15 minutes. I’m sitting in second place and all of a sudden the skies open up. And, uh, I’m on slick tires with no tread and the pouring rain, uh, basically, you know, still driving at a hundred and whatever mile an hour, going through corners at 60, 70, 80 mile an hour.

Basically just trying to keep the car on the track. Cause you know, when you have no tread in the wet, the car is basically hydroplane the entire time. Oh my goodness. And you’re just trying to constantly keep it somewhere on the pavement.

Uh, and, and basically, you know, it’s all about car control and being able to adapt because every time he goes around the corner, it’s going to do something different. And especially as it gets wetter and wetter, it’s just gonna like every time, like basically every time I went into a breaking zone for 30 minutes, I had no idea if the car was going to stop.

Wow. Just because I might hydroplane and just sail it straight into a wall. Oh, it’s, you know, it’s the adaptability and the, and the trust of your ability and in the car, it, that’s what separates the, the normal people from the above average from the, just the leaders, the guys who are just crushing.

Jeff:

Wow. All right. Let’s talk about some stories. What, um, give me, give me the craziest thing that ever happened to you on the track.

Erik:

Uh, the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me in the track, uh, I was racing a junior IndyCar than the USF 2000 class. Uh, uh, and St. Petersburg, Florida, which if you don’t know, is a street race. So they shut down the streets and you’re racing on the actual street.

Jeff:

Like you’re going through intersections and stuff like that.

Erik:

Yes, there’s walls, not just normal cars on there. Uh, but it’s like the coolest track because, uh, the front stretch is actually a private runway. And then you, and then you turn right onto like the taxiways of the airport and then you make a left and go on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg down the streets through a park and through a parking lot and then back down the runway.

It’s an absolutely sick track. Awesome weekend. You’re, you know, I was there on the IndyCar weekend as a support series to IndyCar. Um, and, uh, I had this crazy moment in race one, um, where a two cars sandwiched me. I was in the middle of them.

And since you know, they’re open wheel cars, you can hit each other’s wheels. And that launched up one of the cars on my left up into the air. And he came down and his right rear tire on the car hit me in the head because it’s an open wheel car.

You know, the Formula One cars, this was the year before they had the halos, everything. So it landed on my head on my helmet. Um, and, and crushed me a little bit. Um, you know, uh, I probably should been injured. Um, and, uh, but I walked away with not even a sore neck, um, the, the safety standards on these cars nowadays and the equipment that we wear is just unreal.

Uh, so that’s probably one of the crazier thing has happened to me. You know, I’ve also been on a car, I’ve been in a car that was on fire, uh, you know,

Jeff:

Your car caught on fire?

Erik:

Yeah, my car caught on fire. I was doing a practice, it wasn’t even like a race day, it was a practice down in Miami Homestead and I think the oil line burst on top of the engine and it set the engine bay aflame.

And I actually had no idea because, you know, on these open-wheel cars, the engine’s at the back, so you can’t see it in front of you. And then all of a sudden, I’m going through, like, turn one at, like, 130 mile an hour, and all of a sudden, like, all the power on the car just shuts off.

The engine shuts off. I’m like, okay, that’s weird. And then I look in my mirror, and the reason I wasn’t looking in my mirror earlier is because I was the only one on track. It was a practice day.

And all I see is this big ball of orange and red flames. I’m just like, oh my gosh. So, you know, funny enough, I actually wasn’t panicked or scared. I was just like, okay, well, I should probably pull off the track and get out of the car.

So I pulled off the track, got out of the car, I pressed the, the cars have fire extinguisher buttons where it will douse the cockpit where the driver’s sitting in the engine bay with fire extinguisher. And then the fire crew that’s on standby arrives within, you know, 30 seconds of me stopping the car. Uh, which was a crazy experience to actually be driving a car that was on fire.

Jeff:

Oh my goodness. Wow.

Erik:

Yeah. So that’s probably the two craziest things that have happened to me in racing. Uh, and you know, there was a time this year I had, uh, a brake failure. I was going into turn one, I pressed the brake and the disc exploded. Uh, sending brake disc everywhere through the rim, through the tires, through the bodywork.

Jeff:

Wow.

Erik:

And that was that like 145 mile an hour going into a corner. And I just went straight. I was like, Whoa, that was quite a lively experience. Oh my goodness. The sport in general, what, what, what something tells something crazy that people might not have any idea about the sport of racing.

Um, how physical it is, you know, a lot of people, you know, just think that we sit there and just turn the wheel, like it’s driving your Mercedes or your truck down the road. Like, no, you know, there’s, you know, in most of these race cars, there’s no power steering. There’s no ABS, no trash control. The brake pedal is like hitting a brick wall.

Um, you know, like when I was doing the junior formula one stuff, I think my engineer worked out that you need to get full braking performance. You need to hit the brake pedal with about 300 pounds of pressure. Compare that to a road car, you know, it’s all electronically assisted.

So you could just like rest your foot on it and then it will engage the brakes. But this, I mean, like if I rest my foot on it or even like push with like a decent bit of force, like nothing’s really going to happen. You have to like get like a running start and smack it and then like modulate it very, uh, precisely off and then.

You know, on top of that, like I said, I can get like 135 degrees inside the car. Hot as hell. And that’s not even including all the stuff that you’re wearing to protect you from fire and crashes and stuff, you know. It’s really hot. And the cars are not designed for any airflow whatsoever just because You know, that’s aerodynamic drag and, and, uh, AC units, uh, weigh, weigh, weigh a lot of, uh, of pounds and, uh, and then they draw engine engine power away, which is horrible in both ways.

You don’t want a heavy race car and you don’t want one, one with little, little power.

Jeff:

Wow. Never knew that. Okay. So when I, when I told one of my friends, you’re coming on the show, he said, ask you specifically to dispel this once and for all what a race car drivers do when they have to go to the bathroom.

Erik:

Uh, to be honest with you, um, you are sweating so much that no matter how much you hydrate, you will not have to go to the bathroom. Uh, I mean, I think, uh, when I was racing at brands hatch this year, it was probably like 140 something in the car. I mean, just so hot, um, minimal airflow in the car.

Uh, so like. I think I lost about five pounds in water weight over the course of an hour. So you, you won’t have to do it. You know, if you have to go a number two, uh, I can’t help you do it before the race. That’s my only advice.

Jeff:

Do you ever hear a story though?

Erik:

Uh, I’ve, I’ve had teammates that have, uh, have peed inside the car. Um, you just have to, right? You just have to, I mean, I’m, I’m not saying I’ve never had to personally, but if you have to just do it and get it over with that way, cause you don’t want it to distract you from your driving whatsoever. Because, I mean, at the end of the day, it’s two options. You either disqualify yourself in the race, right?

I mean, that’s what it comes down to. You know, a lot of people have asked me, like, do we wear diapers? I’m like, personally, I haven’t. I can’t speak for other people, but I haven’t heard of anyone. But, you know, if they want to admit that or not is a whole different story.

Jeff:

That’s awesome. All right. If somebody wants to get a hold of you, are we going to Instagram?

Erik:

Yeah, just go to my Instagram, ericevans underscore official. My email is there for any inquiries on sponsorship or whatever, or you can send me a quick message. I’ll be happy to respond.

Jeff:

And it’s Eric with a K.

Erik:

Yeah, Eric with a K. Yeah, the cool way.

Jeff:

Yeah, that’s awesome. So Eric and then Evans, we’ll put it in the bio as well. All right, so I want to end on this.

What are one, two or three things the audience can do to help you, to support you?

Erik:

Well, you know, I’m, unfortunately just with how expensive sport is and the direction it goes, you know, I’m always looking for financial backing through sponsorship and, and stuff like that.

So that’s like one way you can help me send me, you know, message. If you’re really interested in doing that, we can get your name on the side of the car.

We can get you involved on, on some of maybe the merch that we’re coming out with, you know, get your company name on it and stuff like that.

Um, or, you know, just, you know, watch the races always helps. Cause you know, the more viewerships and stuff, the races get, uh, you know, the cooler it is, you know, the bigger environments come, come out to races.

If, you know, unfortunately I raced over in Europe, not here. So it might be a bit of a trip for some people over here, but you know, come out to race is always a great time. There’s always so much to do at the races. There’s fans zones. Yeah. There’s driver autograph sessions, you know, stuff like that.

And, and then, you know, just give me a follow social media, you know, keep up with the journey if you really want to. I mean, it’s, uh, I’m, uh, I’m trying to expand and show more of the journey rather than just the racing side, because I really open up to that.

Jeff:
That’s awesome. I appreciate you. All right. Well, Eric, uh, we’re grateful for you here. I mean it. Thanks so much for taking the time to come over.

Erik:

No, really. Thank you for the invite. I mean, and this has been a blast. I’ve never done a podcast before, so this was really fun.

Jeff:

Yeah. Thanks again, folks. If you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast, I asked, please leave us a review. It would help us out greatly. Um, be sure to follow us.

And if this particular episode, uh, you feel can help a friend, family member, whatever. We ask that you just copy the link, send it on to them, and we greatly appreciate you being part of the interesting humans community.

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