When you talk about Super Late Model racing in the Northwest, the name Garrett Evans usually will come up in that discussion. Now, a new Evans is emerging in those discussions with 17-year-old Jan Evans following in his father’s foot steps as he gears up for his first Snowball Derby.
There is some fate built into this journey 3,000 miles across the country for the Evans family.
Back in 2000, when Garrett was running the Snowball Derby, his wife Shannon was expecting their first son with a scheduled C-section when Garrett returned home to Wenatchee, Washington from the race in Pensacola, Florida.
“We were trying to figure out our finish, we thought we had finished in the top three and they were working on everything when my phone rang. My wife had gone into labor and was heading to the hospital,” Evans told Speed51.com.
“I rushed to the airport, jumped on a red eye flight to Seattle, rented a car with no snow tires and drove through the mountain passes to the hospital. So, you could say that Jan is kind of a Snowball Derby baby. It’s pretty amazing to be returning back 18 years later with him being able to race it.”
Following a legendary career like his dad’s that included being a seven-time touring Super Late Model champion, over 350 career feature wins and one of the all-time leaders in NASCAR Touring series wins can be pretty tough.
The now teenager from East Wenatchee, Washington raced a limited schedule in 2018 but in those races, he turned some heads. He made his first trips to both the Montana 200 and Summer Showdown 200, coming away with a pair of impressive sixth-place finishes
The 2017 Northwest Super Late Model Series championship runner-up qualified second behind last year’s Snowball Derby pole winner Preston Peltier in the Montana 200.
Now, he will look to carry some confidence from that into his first trip to the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.
“Sometimes I get worried about qualifying for the Snowball Derby but then I remember how close Peltier and I qualified at the Montana 200 for first and second. With him being the pole sitter last year, sometimes that helps ease my nerves,” Jan Evans told Speed51.com. “But I don’t really dwell on past success, I just focus on the future and what I can do to improve.”
The Evans Racing Enterprise race team has made three trips to the Snowball Derby previously with dad, Garrett, behind the wheel, with the team’s best finish of ninth in 2000, Jan’s birth year.
Maybe his birthday luck will play into this year’s race as the young driver has big goals in his first Derby trip.
“My goal would be to win the race but as most people know, the most important part is just making the race. Anything can happen at the Snowball Derby with the pit stops and all,” said the second-generation Evans. “Whatever team works the best in the end will win and hopefully that’s my team.”
Evans team for the event will include some of the best in the business. Veteran crew chief Freddie Query will call the shots throughout the weekend, while Snowball Derby-winning tire specialist Wes Weed (Weeder) will handle all tire-related duties.
The two-time Wenatchee Valley Super Oval Pro Late Model winner this year is trying to hold back the excitement to be able to head to the east coast early on in his career.
“I look forward to racing the Derby, I can’t control how excited I am,” he stated. “Pretty much every morning I’ll be in the shower just thinking about the race and qualifying, even our couple test days. I am being as prepared as possible. I’ve probably watched every Snowball Derby from the past five years about 10 times in the past few weeks on Speed51.com”
The team began their 2,700-mile trip Monday with the hauler taking off as it will travel through snow, rain, ice and more from one corner of the country to the other. The rest of the team will arrive on Thanksgiving. Evans and his team will use a few days of testing to adapt to the new track, but he knows that this week can mean a lot in your racing career.
“The Snowball Derby is where a lot of young drivers have kick started their career,” he stated. “To me, it means I’ll have an opportunity to prove myself on a national level and racing in front of people that have never seen me before.”
With his birthday being December 4 and the week of the Snowball Derby, Jan will look for one present this year: The Tom Dawson Trophy.
“To win it would mean everything to me, it would make for a pretty cool birthday party.”
Race fans unable to attend the 51st Annual Snowball Derby in person will be able to watch a pay-per-view broadcast all week long on Speed51.com. Five-day video tickets can be purchased now for $74.99 ($35 savings) to watch all of the action. Click here to purchase your video ticket today.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-Story by: Jeremy Anders, Speed51.com West Coast Editor – Twitter: @Janders2115
-Photo credit: Kyler Hope / Speed51.com