Driver Diary - Evan Arnold - ICP Cup, Spokane

Driver Journal - Evan Arnold at the ICP Cup in Spokane, WA

Evan started his karting experience at Sima when he got a half day driver fundamentals of karting workshop at Sima for his 11th birthday and was instantly hooked. In August of that year he entered his first race and is now competing in his 3rd full season or karting. Driving with the Italian Motors team has given him

the opportunity to participate in races around North America and last year between Jr Tag and LO206 he competed in 40 races. He loves racing and winning but what he likes even more is the fun he has with his track friends. We asked Evan to share a Driver’s Journal with us reflecting on his most recent race weekend, the ICP Cup in Spokane Washington and what he did to prepare for the weekend.

Leading up to the race I talked with my parents and we made a plan to improve my results from the previous ICP Cup. We focused on the basics of sleep, mental focus and of course getting practice laps in. I tried to sleep 12 hours most days, ate lots of good food and kept my mind strong by keeping relaxed. For me that means having lots of free time to ride my dirt bike, hang out with friends and stay on top of my school work.

When I mapped out my plan it looked like this…

Goal: Increase Sleep Time 
• In bed by 9:00 awake by 10:00. I switched to online learning the beginning of May as part of the plan so I can start my school day at 11:00.

Goal: Increase Mental Focus

• Put away my phone for race weekend
• Only talk about qualifying times with my mechanic, Craig LaBrocca, back at pit
• Have go kart on grid early and sit in seat to make sure I’m comfortable and at grid on time
• Go to RV during long breaks to watch movies and relax
• Review data with my teammates
• Talk a lot about gearing, handling and tire pressure with Craig so he and I could make decisions together
• Do a track walk with teammates
• Go to bed early so I wake up rested
• Get ahead in my schoolwork so I don’t have the stress on the weekend thinking about falling behind and coming back to a pile of work
• Ask my parents to talk about the good parts of the race which helps me stay calm and on pace

Goal: Get in Practice Laps

• Switch to online learning so I can be more flexible with my schedule
• Stop playing on my basketball team so I could make more time for karting
• Increase my practice days from once to three times a week
• Invite friends to go out and practice with me

All this preparation made me feel ready for the ICP Cup race. I think the best thing I did was increase my mental focus. I had this plan going for about a month before the ICP Cup race in Spokane. I had made a lot of changes as a driver and was looking forward to seeing if they would show in my results in Spokane. Race weekend arrived. ICP Cup, rounds three and four were starting in Spokane, Washington.

Friday, May 24
We woke up at the track in our RV. I was feeling good and wanted to get driving so I could learn the track. I went out for every practice session in TAG and LO206. Craig, my teammates and our coach, Michael Valiante, worked together comparing our sessions to figure out the best set up for each of our go karts. By the end of the day I felt confident that my lap times were on pace to be
competitive for the weekend. I stayed focused on racing and after dinner and hanging out made sure I was in bed by 9:00.

Saturday, May 25
I put on my race gear, had a small snack rather than a full breakfast and headed out to the drivers’ meeting. I went out for both practices in each class and felt ready for qualifying. I talked A LOT with Craig and I think that helped with the mechanics and with my mental focus and feeling prepared. The kart was ready.
Now it was up to me to go out and drive the best I could.

In four stroke I didn’t have a good qualifying time and started the pre final from tenth. At the end of the session I realized I made some mistakes that hurt my
ability to get laps without running into traffic on the track. I thought it over and made a plan for Sunday.

Right after my four stroke qualifying I went out for TAG and qualified second behind my friend and teammate, Mario Gill. The group of drivers in TAG was really competitive and I knew I would be in for a tight race with so many talented drivers in the field.
After a relaxing lunch break and a good James Bond movie I went out in the four stroke prefinal and improved my position from 10th to 6th which helped build my confidence. I brought my kart back to the pit, talked with Craig and then helped get my TAG ready and took it to grid.In the TAG pre-final I started p2 and finished half a second behind Mario.

My back started hurting quite a bit by this time and I had my Mom check it out. I have a number of bruises on my back from karting and one of them had the skin
worn off and was burning which made it even more painful. Luckily, my Mom keeps a first aid kit and fixed me up. 

The final for four stroke had me starting in p6. I was focused on trying to improve my position but I was unable to and after making it up to 5th ended up finishing back in 6th where I started. Craig and I talked it over after the race and decided to make mechanical changes for Sunday which ended up paying off.

TAG final started shortly after and on the 6th lap I was able to make a pass and hold the position through to the end of the 17 lap race and won. Mario was still
close behind me but got passed on the final straightaway finishing third. A great part of the day was after the racing and dinner were over. First I called my Grandpa Browne because he is just totally crazy about my racing and couldn’t
make the trip so I shard some stories with him. Then, I did another track walk with my friend, Massimo and hung out with other kids at the track. I think just hanging around together at the end of the day and having fun is a super important part of racing because it makes it fun and helps get rid of the stress from the day.

Sunday, May 26
When I woke up Sunday morning I felt sick to my stomach and my back was so sore from the bruising I wasn’t sure if I would compete in both classes or even at all. My Mom gave me an Advil for the pain, some ginger for my stomach, patched up my back and said it was up to me whether or not I raced. I decided to skip the LO206 practice and went out for the TAG practice to see how I would feel. I thought I could manage the pain and made the decision to race both classes again.

Before heading out for LO206 qualifying I spent a lot of time working together with team-mate Jesse Webb. When I went out for qualifying in LO206 I was able to improve my qualifying position to fourth just ahead of my teammate Kason by 0.001 seconds. Tight! Following that I went out for TAG qualifying and finished p2 just ahead of Mario. Then the p1 driver got disqualified at the scales which meant I would be starting the prefinal from pole. I felt so relieved!

In the LO206 prefinal I battled back and forth with three other drivers changing positions four times in the race and falling to p5 before making a last lap pass to recover to p4. Then the first place finisher ended up getting disqualified
after tech which moved me up to p3 where I would start the final from.

In the TAG prefinal race that followed, my teammate, Mario, passed me on the second lap and he was able to hold on for the win beating me by 0.6 seconds.
In the four stroke final I had a great battle with Caleb Schrader and Gracie Brown. I got passed on the start and fell to third before working my way up to first and then falling back to second. On the final lap of the race I had a great back and forth battle with Caleb. In the end our karts were side by side but he won by 0.027 seconds which was less than the width of my nose cone. What a great race! It felt great to improve from my 6th place finish on Saturday to a 2nd. The changes Craig and I decided on made a big difference and also resulted in me having the fastest lap time recorded in the race. 

In the TAG final I had a great start from p2 and was able to get into p1 by turn two. I managed to hold the p1 position for the entire race. Mario got on my bumper a few times but I was able to make a comfortable gap towards the end of the race. I remember I felt exhausted and kept telling myself to just keep holding the steering and talked myself through each turn focusing on one at a time. I kept thinking, “Hold on. Just hold the steering wheel.” I guess it worked.

Before podium Jake Preston came into our RV and figured out from the balloons that Sunday was also the day I turned 14. He promised he would embarrass me and he kept his promise. At the podium ceremony when I went up for my TAG trophy he yelled out, “Happy Birthday Evan!” Monroe Jordan followed with and even louder yell and then the announcer, Terry Bridges, caught on and got the whole crowd to sing to me. Yep Jake you kept your word. I was embarrassed. Can’t wait to get you back!

After the race we drove home getting back to Chilliwack at 1:00 am. The next day I was physically and mentally exhausted even though I slept until 11am. I rested all day except for a little bit of dirt biking to get outside. It felt great to improve on my Tri City results where I finished 3rd overall in Tag and 5th in LO206 for the weekend. I will stick with my plan for the race in McMinville and continue to focus on me more than my go kart.