This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, RealTime Racing’s Ryan Eversley discusses his TCR championship-winning season, the successful debut of the Honda Civic Type-R TCR and the rise of his “Dinner With Racers” podcast series.
Is your TCR driver’s championship sinking in? How has the reaction been with fans and in the paddock?
“It’s been fantastic. We had a great season of battles with the Hyundai team with Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis. Obviously when Hyundai picked Bryan Herta Autosport as the team; it’s an IndyCar team. They brought a really good program.
“So to get the driver’s championship against a team like that, with RealTime, was a real big deal.
“Honestly I wasn’t thinking a lot about championships the last couple of years. My goal has always been to be a regular in the sport and a known hired gun. Once I won it, the amount of people that have come out of the woodwork to say congrats or pay some sort of appreciation for it has been really, really humbling. So that’s been very cool.”
How would you compare compare the GT class, which you had been a part of for many years, to TCR in the series?
“In TCR, you have quite a bit more amateur drivers that are starting out to make their career to hopefully become pro one day, whereas in the GT class, you pretty much know if you’re in the pro class, you’re racing against big-name drivers and teams that are already proven.
“It’s two different worlds but I knew from the get-go when Hyundai announced their program that I assumed was going to be us vs. them for the championship. But then there were also some very good drives from guys like Matt Fassnacht and my teammate at the end of the year, Mason Filippi, getting on the podium.
“I think you’re going to see some strong results coming out of those guys in the next couple of years.”
What are your thoughts on the Honda Civic Type-R TCR and the platform in general?
“I think it’s one of the most fun, cool cars I’ve raced in a long, long time. It’s front-wheel drive but a lot of the people that drove it this year in our series had never driven one or not had much experience with front-wheel drive before. They couldn’t believe how fun it was.
“If you look at the pace of it, at a lot of the tracks this year, I would be within a half-second of the pole in GT4. That’s a car that has ABS vs. our car, which doesn’t. A lot of those tracks, having ABS, would have probably brought the gap down.
“The class has huge potential, we just have to keep costs what they should be.
“A problem that stems from a lot of our racing is that there’s no budget cap, not that I know how to do that! But a lot of it becomes who can charge the most and get away from it. Especially on the World Challenge side, where you don’t need as many mechanics for a TCR car and you don’t have pit stops, it can be a very fast car for a reasonable budget and that’s a great thing.”
Now in its third year, did you imagine the success of “Dinner With Races” podcast series that you created with Sean Heckman?
“No! It’s been tremendous and really incredible. We did a live show at Road America this year and had 500-600 people show up, or some ridiculous number. I wasn’t even racing that weekend and literally just came up for the podcast.
“The big part is that guests that we’ve had have been so open and willing to tell their stories and be honest with us. The fans really resonate with that. And we do it our way. Sean and I have a funny, different sense of humor than a lot of people. When we’re allowed to play games and be ourselves, we can seem to get interesting stories out of people.
“It’s been incredible and it wouldn’t work without the fans listening.”
What’s 2019 looking like for you as a driver?
“I assume I’ll be racing with something with a Honda or an Acura badge. I’m trying to keep my association with Honda as next year would be my tenth year racing Hondas, which would be pretty cool.
“There’s a few things I’m working on that are supposed to be signed off on pretty quickly. I’d really like to race the TCR again. It was so fun, and I’d love to be back in the GT class with an NSX GT3, if possible.”