I can still vividly remember my first HPDE event back in 1999 with NASA. Most of you reading this now can relate to the anticipation, excitement and that weird feeling in your gut we all experience before a race. Over the years, those feelings have been consistent, but the level of intensity has dramatically changed. For me, they’re still there but they aren’t as intense anymore and sometimes they are barely even audible.
After my first HPDE event, like most, I was hooked! I couldn’t wait for the next event or the next track to experience. In the Phoenix metro area, there are five different road courses and I was able to experience all of them in a short amount of time. I even traveled to Southern California in the summer of 2000 to run Willow Springs International Raceway, which was an eye opener since the tracks in Arizona were either small, slow and/or flat, the exact opposite of that track.
Over the years I’ve driven at many different tracks around the country and each and every one of them is special in its own unique way. They almost feel as if they have a personality and they are communicating with me. Earlier I mentioned that weird feeling in your gut, and I have wondered if that feeling is simply a normal human reaction to being nervous or excited, or is it the track speaking to me ever so softly, like a gentle whisper?
For as many tracks as I have experienced, there’s an equal number of tracks that I haven’t, but there is one in particular that I have longed for more than any other, and that track is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Add in the fact that the Western States Championships will be at this historic track and you have a recipe for one epic event! I can’t precisely put my finger on whether it is the name Laguna Seca, which I find fun to say, or if it’s the infamous Corkscrew, or if it’s the taboo of a 103 dB limit, but what I do know is that feeling in my gut is telling me I don’t just want to, but I need to experience this track. Is it my mind talking through my gut, or is it actually the track calling my name? Regardless of what it is, what I do know for certain is I haven’t been this excited for a race in a long time.
For those who don’t know, I was badly burned in a huge car-b-que. Do a Google search on “Tage Evanson fire” and you’ll see what I mean. I experienced horrific surgeries and agonizing daily cleanings for 12 days in the hospital and a year of daily rituals at home to obtain a full recovery, but that dedication paid off because now you can’t even tell I was burned at all.
It was always my intention to rebuild that racecar from the ground up because just about everything on the car was damaged. However, life, family, work, etc., took priority for a few years and the Civic just sat there as bare stripped shell. While my motivation to work on the car was low, there was always a quiet whisper in my head tugging at me to return to the track in my own racecar. It wasn’t until the announcement that the Western States Championships would be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that those faint whispers turned into audible voices. It has been and will be a race against the clock to finish my Civic in time. But, Laguna Seca, I hear you calling.