The name Evan Stewart is one that you’re no doubt going to be hearing a lot of in the coming years. You see the young Ontario rider is quickly making a name for himself as one of the top amateur riders in Canada. With multiple Walton TransCan titles now under his belt, Evan is currently down in Florida and the famous Moto Sandbox Training facility getting his mind, body, and bike ready for the Spring Nationals in the USA. Having said good-bye to 85’s and Supermini’s, Evan has moved up to the big bikes and is looking forward to another successful season. We caught up with him after another day and hard training.
MXP: Hey Evan, how are things going. You’re down in Florida at Moto Sandbox correct?
ES: Things are going great down here. Yes, my dad and I returned to Moto Sandbox to continue my training and to enjoy the awesome Florida weather!!!
Well, I just finished shovelling snow off of my driveway so I don’t want to talk about how nice the weather is in Florida (laughs). How long have you been down there and how long do you plan on staying?
We went skiing in Utah in the middle of January and then returned to Florida to pick-up on the training we started back in November. Sadly I broke my arm back in November just before Mini O’s so we had to take a break from riding and go home. We’re going to be staying in Florida until all of the Spring Nationals (Daytona, Spring-A-Ding, and Freestone) are over and then come home for a bit to regroup. Hopefully, after that, we can come back down and keep training for Loretta Lynn’s in July, but it all depends on the Covid-19 restrictions.
You’re one of the few Canadian riders down in the USA this winter. Did you have any problems getting across the border?
No, we had no problem coming over. All of my moto stuff was in Florida at the Moto Sandbox, so my Dad just packed our ski stuff, and off we went to Utah and then Florida.
So who is your regular crew in Florida? Who do you usually ride with?
This time it’s has been mostly Diesel Thomas, Casey Cochran, Matthew Granda, and me hanging out when we are not riding. On ride days, I ride with Diesel Thomas, Casey Cochran, Matthew Granda, Mason Humphrey, Jace Baker, Chase Lawton, and Brayden Baisley. It’s a great crew and we all work hard and also have a lot of fun.
That does sound like a good group of young riders. Can you take us through what a normal day is like for you?
A normal ride day for us would consist of getting up at 7:45 and then my Dad and I go get a morning smoothie and a breakfast sandwich. We usually get to the track at 9:30 am and start training by 10 am and go until around 2 pm. After that, I go home do some homework for a couple of hours so I can stay caught up on my school work. Three days a week I do off-bike training with Casey and our trainer Blake Savage. Blake makes us work hard but he also keeps it fun. On the training days, I also try and get to bed early as I’m usually pretty tired. Sometimes when Casey’s dad is home from work we mix in some jet skiing and wake surfing, Casey’s mom and my dad also take us to the amusement parks every once in a while. That is pretty much it!
It sounds like you’re working hard Evan and enjoying yourself as well. Judging by a few of your recent Social Media posts you’re now on a 250F. How is that going?
The 250F riding is going pretty good and I’m learning a lot on it. It’s been a bit of a struggle with the weight difference between my Supermini and my 125, but I am getting used to it. My trainer Blake is really focusing on adding some weight and strength so I can handle the 250F easier. He knows his stuff and I like working with him.
Blake is a very knowledgeable guy and he’s also a super nice guy. You’re in good hands. Do you prefer the 125 or 250F?
Definitely the 250F! It has more power and is much easier to ride than the 125. But like I said, it’s also a little heavier and that makes it handle differently. As I build more strength I’m noticing that I’m feeling more comfortable on the 250F.
So what is the plan for the coming weeks and months?
Soon my dad and I will be on the road going to Spring Nationals down here. We will also be mixing in a few Loretta Qualifiers as well. After that, we will return home for two weeks, and then if the Covid rules allow us, we will return to Moto Sandbox to keep the training going.
It sounds like you have a busy time ahead. Let’s go back to last year and the 2020 Walton TransCan. You rode great there all week and took home two titles. How was the week from your perspective?
I was very happy with my overall finishes at the TransCan last year. I struggled with my starts and made it hard on myself, but my dad kept telling me to win using my corner speed. I feel I could have finished Top 3 in the Schoolboy class also if my starts were better. There were a lot of great riders there and it was very challenging.
The TransCan hasn’t always been kind to you as you’ve had some bad luck there in the past. What did it mean to you to finally have some great results?
It was like having a big weight lifted off me. There is a lot of pressure at Walton and in the last couple of years, I was a little overwhelmed. The training at the Moto Sandbox with Ronnie Tichenor and Kyle Chessman really paid off as they worked on not just my riding by my mental state as well. I just knew I needed to put the hard work in and keep working at my corner speed and the wins would come.
Yes, your corner speed was definitely one of your strong points last year at Walton. Do you consider last year at Walton Raceway your best result ever, or do others stand out?
It was definitely my best finish at a national event as it was my first-ever title. I was also really proud that I was able to qualify for Loretta’s in all my classes and even managed to win a Super Regional at Lincoln Trial. A couple of the riders I raced against went on to place in the Top 5 at Loretta’s.
So with all of the races you do and all of the tracks you ride, do you have a favourite?
Man, that one is a hard one to answer! But I would have to say Deschambault and Gopher Dunes. I like the high speed and big jumps at Deschambault and they also take great care of the place. Gopher Dunes I like it because it’s sand and it’s very hard to ride. When you do well at Gopher Dunes you feel like you’ve done something special. I like that feeling. I would also have to say that I like the tracks at Moto Park and Moto SandBox. Both are fun and their great facilities to hang out at.
You were right, that was a tough question to answer (laughs). Away from the track what type of things do you like to do?
I really like skiing, riding my scooter, MX Sim, Fortnite, wake surfing, BMX, and cycling. I like to keep busy so if I’m not riding my dirt bike then I’m always doing something else.
You’ve been at racing a long time and you’ve had some ups and downs. What advice do you have for young riders out there who want to find success?
The most important thing I would say is to work hard and stay focused. Hard work and dedication will beat natural talent every time. Also, spend more time working on corners than jumping. Every race is won in the corners.
That’s great advice Evan. Okay, final question. Who would you like to thank for helping you out?
I have to thank my Mom and Dad the most, they’re awesome and I wouldn’t be doing all of this without their support. But I would also like to thank everyone who has supported me the past few years. Roundhouse Powersports, Fox Canada Racing, Shift MX, Gopher Dunes, D & D Moto Products, DT1 Air Filters, Oakley, Acerbis, Risk Racing, Motul, ODI Grips, ASV Inventions, Powerband Racing, Dunlop Tires, Tosa Homes, Bearded Hooligans Clothing, Moto Sandbox and a special thanks to Matt Marshal at Race Ready Customs. He’s my mechanic and seems to be able to do every impossible thing that my dad asks (laughs)
Well, it’s been great chatting with you Evan. Good luck with your upcoming races and safe travels.
Thank you Palms and thanks for reaching out.