STONE MOUNTAIN – Ryan Eversley is heading into 2019 as the reigning Pirelli World Challenge TCR Touring Car Champion but there’s more to the Georgia born sports car racer.
Eversley’s racing heritage dates back to the first race he attended at the ripe age of two months old. That first race was the 1984 Daytona 24-hour endurance race where his parents were running a GTP car.
Eversley’s career soon followed in 2002 when he started earning his living as a professional driver and coach around 2008.
Eversley’s racing career took off so to speak last year, eight years after his debut in the Pirelli World Challenge series, he ran the Honda Civic Type R TCR to a championship in 2018 for RealTime Racing. His podcast Dinner With Racers, co-hosted by Sean Heckman, also took off as the content he produced garnered more attention from around the country.
“I wasn’t really sure if I would become a champion honestly,” Eversley said. “Not because I didn’t think I could but more because of circumstance. I’ve been teammates with some of the best drivers in the world and I know that my skill set is capable but it takes so much for a championship effort to come together. I’m really happy that I was able to win one with RealTime and Honda.”
Eversley brings great optimism to the 2019 campaign. The car is virtually the same for him and the newly named ‘Scarlet’ for Honda America Racing factory team doesn’t differ as much as last year’s prized RealTime Racing Honda.
“For 2019 I have strong expectations since I was able to win the championship last year in the same type of car,” Eversley said. “I’m racing with HART who I’ve won races with before. It’s essentially the exact same car except it has ABS whereas the World Challenge series doesn’t allow it. Otherwise, there are different decals and tire but there’s not much else that’s different.”
The racing world can be cruel to racers and the pressures that they face are often unseen. However, once you’ve raced for as long as Eversley has those pressures begin to dissipate.
“When I first started racing – managing the pressures and expectations that were put on me was really difficult,” Eversley admitted. “I take things a day at a time and eventually that ‘pressure’ becomes the norm and you don’t really notice it anymore. I use the phrase “When chaos becomes the norm, it’s no longer chaos” all the time.”
The season for Eversley last year was short, the PWC schedule ended in September prompting a multitude of things. A long offseason and a few concerns.
Eversley says that one concern he didn’t have though was Honda and HART offering him to drive the TCR which gave him a job for 2019. If you don’t have a job lined up, that’s when the offseason can get miserable according to Eversley.
“I guess not getting too fat was probably the biggest concern because I love pizza,” Eversley quipped.
But on a more serious note, Eversley says that he improved over the offseason as well.
“I tried to stay mentally sharp by playing racing simulators and doing my usual training program,” Eversley said. “We also did another road trip for my Dinner With Racers podcast that I do with Sean Heckman, so that took up a lot of time which is a good distraction.”
As the 2019 curtain raises there is a few things that Eversley has to be wary of. He admitted that he doesn’t feel that added pressure that goes along with being a title holder.
“I believe in my abilities and I get to work with very supportive people. When I’m racing, I’m my biggest critic. So when we’re not running up front, I’m harder on myself than anyone else could be,” Eversley said. “The HART program is made up of volunteers so I always want to give them the best effort I can to reward their hard work. The day I don’t mind being a little off the pace is the day I’ll probably retire. And eat more pizza.”
The series kicks off the season with the four-hour race at Daytona International Speedway January 24 through to January 27. How does Eversley feel the race sets the tone for the season?
“Daytona is a 4-hour race whereas most of the races are two hours so we need to make sure we focus on staying out of trouble and being there at the end,” Eversley said. “It would be great to go out and win the thing but my main focus will be on maximizing points for the championship.”
In 2019, look for Eversley in the winners’ circles and at the top of the points standings as he looks to repeat, and he will probably eat some pizza along the way.