Who’s Who in NASA – Tage and Adina Evanson
Full Names: Tage Jae Evanson & Adina Evanson (pronounced “page” but with a “T”, and “Even” + “Son”)
Hometown: (Tage) Red Bluff, California; (Adina) Glendale, Arizona
Tage’s 9-5: Project Manager
Adina’s 9-5: Full-Time Mom (Zaylee age 5, and Brynlee aka “B” age 3) & Bookkeeping at Ace Hardware
Tage’s NASA Title: Regional Director
Adina’s NASA Title: Regional Co-Director aka “The Missus”
Tage’s Favorite Food (s): Mexican/burritos, bacon egg /cheese burritos, anything from Filiberto’s
Adina’s Favorite Food(s): Anything Mexican
Pets: Husky named Koni (yes, as in Koni shocks)
Track weekends usually bring us busy schedules and limited free time. However, I had the pleasure of interviewing two of the busiest people I know within NASA-AZ, Tage and Adina Evanson. I was lucky enough to have spent time with them after the January event, learning a bit more about each of their backgrounds and coming to better understand just how instrumental this dynamic duo is in making NASA-AZ a success. In lieu of a new 2011 season, I think it is appropriate to introduce to everyone Tage and Adina for this edition of Who’s Who.
Tage Jae Evanson was Korean born but grew up in Red Bluff, California with his adoptive parents…and also one of the largest two-day rodeos in the world. Yes indeed, a small community of 10,000 people suddenly endured an increase of 10,000 more visitors in one weekend. Little did his family know that he would turn into the need-for-speed racer he is today.
His competitive nature appeared relatively early. In 7th grade Tage began his passion for “going fast” on two wheels with freestyle bikes; catching curbs, rails, and ledges whenever possible. Aspiring to be a professional freestyle rider, he continued riding throughout his years in high school but ended up putting his bikes away once he began a regular 9-5 career. It should be noted, however, that given the right opportunity (a bike within reach) and a few useful elements (a make-shift ramp) Tage has been spotted catching some air in the Paddock!
At the time when the Honda scene was growing in Arizona, it wasn’t uncommon to find Tage within close proximity. He developed an interest in car shows, specifically lowered Honda’s with loads of street modifications. He always explored things that few people, if anybody, has done before. During the “Spring Splash” car show in Parker, Arizona,Tage took 2nd place with his 92 Accord, the first street Honda to ever have a “functional” airbag suspension.
For those unfamiliar, airbags (as they are called) are more popular in the trucking scene and often use a remote air compression mechanism. Needless to say, the car had an usual stance at the show, attracting enough attention for the noted prize.
Tage’s love for competition became evident when he discovered drag racing, which naturally led to other venues of car-related fun (including autocross) driving an Acura Integra. It was in these solo events that Tage thrived. While he hated the lack of track time that comes with autocross competition, there was always someone to compete with.
Given his broad range of involvement with cars and motorsports, it wasn’t long before he discovered an organization that happened to be running at PIR, and decided to give it a try. Back in 1999, Tage completed his first HPDE1 event (which was then called the “Red Group”). In fact the Chief Driving Instructor was Gary Felton (currently the NASA-AZ Compliance Director). He quickly moved up the following day into the “Green Group.” Despite his lack of experience on a road course at the time,Tage did amazingly well. However, despite his lap times dropping each session out, he gradually lost interest because there was nothing else to do but go around the track with no formal competition. With only two run groups (aside from making his car prepped for wheel-to-wheel racing), Tage returned to his first interest; autocross.
If you are interested in reading about Tage’s first HPDE1 event, you can check it out here:
He continued his efforts in autocross, holding various positions within the SCCA Solo organization, including Worker Chief, Timing & Scoring, and eventually became the Arizona Solo Director from 2004-2005. Throughout Tage‘s solo career, he drove many… many different cars and met lots of interesting people including a fellow Solo competitor by the name of Jason Boles (more on that below).
Tage has always been competitive as proven at the SCCA Solo Nationals. He took 5th in a C5 Z06 (owned by Darrell Covert!) out of nearly a 70 car field mostly C5 Corvettes, 2nd place in an Mitsubishi Evolution, and 2nd place in a Zink (formula car). While he never won a Solo National title, many drivers will agree that trophying at the SCCA Nationals is difficult at best and nearly impossible to win unless you are a master, and have a little luck on your side. His Solo driving resume doesn’t stop there. In the local Arizona auto-crossing scene Tage is known as what is called a “Car whore” and has seat time in Lotus Elise’s, BMW M3s, Mazda Miata’s, Mustangs, Vipers (one of them was owned by Mark Alger), various Porsche’s, Golf’s, and the list goes on and on.
One of the significant memories for Tage was a trip he and some friends made to Willow Springs. Intending only to run one day, Tage ventured to the track not really expecting much. To his surprise, he had a lot of fun and quickly learned that the following day had a competition planned called a “Time Attack”. Tage fell in love with this type or racing but unfortunately “Time Attack” (similar to Solo but on a road course) competition was non-existent in AZ. That was up until about 2006 when Jason Boles (who Tage met through auto-crossing) invited him to run the Time Attack group within NASA as the “Time Attack Director”. Tage immediately took that opportunity and never looked back. Fast forward to late 2008 and after some in depth discussions with Jason, Tage and Adina decided to buy the NASA-AZ organization, and formally took over NASA-AZ at the start of 2009.
Since the leadership change, Tage and Adina have worked extremely hard to revive certain aspects of the organization and offer up the best possible experience for all drivers. As with any change involving large numbers of people, leading NASA has had its own difficulties.
“Taking over was a challenge because many people didn’t know who either of us were, especially me.” said Adina. “They thought that we just got to take over and had no idea that it was a business transaction. It is hard enforcing the rules and introducing new rules, but we truly are trying to do things to make the entire experience better for all the drivers. It is completely a family affair now, since this isn’t a 9-5 gig so we have many discussions of it over dinner, late at night, first thing in the morning, etc. On top of that, we’ve had the involvement of many family members who help at the track and watch the kids!”
It is clear that it takes a lot to run NASA, more than a lot of people realize. After all, most participants simply show up and drive, then go home, all waiting for the next event to happen again. In the mean time, the Evanson family and NASA officials get preparations started when the track goes cold and continue to work many hours along the way to ensure everything comes together as it should. As a participant within NASA, it’s clear to me that they both genuinely care about the drivers, and are endlessly committed to making the events as fun as possible. After all, Tage likes to drive out there too!
“Arizona has been through a lot of changes and transformations over the past few years. I aim to make the region a host to a series of great events.” Tage explained. “Not only do I want the best experience for our drivers, but I really do what I can to treat everyone with the same respect and give them the attention that I would want, whether a first time driver or veteran racer.”
NASA-AZ doesn’t do much marketing; in fact, nearly none at all. Attendance, reputation, and perseverance all come from happy drivers spreading the word, and in turn, inviting new and interested drivers to give it try on the race track. Because NASA-AZ embraces ideas and suggestions from its customers, officials stay well-informed and do what they can to make the best decisions possible, making future events even better than before.
As an added bonus, Tage is known to be somewhat addicted to his Crackberry, or Blackberry rather. When sending a message to NASA, this usually means you’ll be given a response rather promptly! “I’m always answering emails.” Tage explains, “Walking from the car, heading into work, heating up leftovers for dinner, or in the men’s room taking a break, that’s at least a few minutes I can reply to a customer.”
Need I say more? While Tage obviously puts a lot of effort into NASA, he does have a 9-5 job in addition to being the Arizona Regional Director. I think it’s safe to say that this helps illustrate just how busy Tage really is day to day.
We all know Tage because of his white Honda Civic, also known as “Casper”–but don’t let the name deceive you. It’s certainly not ‘the friendly Civic’ in a competitive environment, and is capable of turning some very mean track times. “A Honda Civic should not be that fast. But it is!” says Tage. “I love that it’s not like every other Z06 or BMW out there.”
It’s unique edge is what makes this car not only fast, but attention-grabbing. Whether you have been racing for awhile or are new to the scene, you will more than likely notice it. Attention went in Tage’s direction again; this time at NASA National Championships at Mid-Ohio back in 2008 when Casper took flight. The picture below illustrates most of the story!
On a very rainy day, and shortly after some brake compound and tire changes, Tage quickly headed out for a session that could mean win or loss of a championship title — it was going to be the one dry spell for the day! In brief, he came in rather hot through swift turn, zooming at over 130mph. Trying to slow the car,Tage quickly got on the brakes. Unfortunately, the rear brakes got up to temp faster than the fronts and locked up, causing the car to step out rather rapidly. Reaching a and trap, then passing said sand trap, he found himself speeding over a grassy knoll, sending the car sailing several feet in the air. During his flight, he remembered specifically the warnings given to him from fellow driver Paul Bloomberg; that he should have a cage in his car–not exactly the kind of timing you want when remembering these things.
“I thought to myself… he was right, this is it! I’m gonna die!” Tage explained humorously, leaving it obvious that in retrospect it was a little bit of a crazy moment. Today, the car is equipped with a full cage and the latest safety gear…and surprisingly enough there are a few original body panels left!
While Tage has a long history with this white Civic, he would love to build a BMW E36 platform. However, he would have to make it equally usual to that of his current car. As Tage says, “…It would be redunkulous!” But, that’s his style–a car that both follows the rules but absolutely pushes normalcy and the boundaries of aerodynamics.
With what little time Tage and Adina have to spare outside of NASA, the duo does spend time together, playing with the kids and their dog Koni (yes, as in Koni Shocks). Tage is also a renown, or shall I say, infamous chef!
Meanwhile, Adina stays incredibly busy with her family, especially with her two adorable little girls; Zaylee age 5, and Brynlee aka “B” age 3.
One moment, Adina has to prepare lunches for the girls. The next, she has to switch gears and come up with a beer selection for the NASA BBQ! While event preparation can be a lot to handle, there is much to enjoy when race weekend begins.
“I love watching the drivers battle it out and watching their season points so closely. It makes all the hours we put in so worthwhile when the guys (and gals) come off track with huge smiles on their faces.” explained Adina. “I also hope that maybe one day we’ll have some more tracks in our area or be able to expand a bit into other States to give the drivers more options.”
Outside of NASA, Adina can be found researching new culinary delights to make in the kitchen, playing Bunco with her “mom” friends, and indulging in a good bike ride or a hike on local trails. For those of you in the technology-loop, Adina can be spotted on Facebook on a semi-regular basis as well.
While Adina may not be a driver, she thoroughly understands what is most important to participants. After all, she has supported Tage’s racing for many years and has come to appreciate the amount of passion and energy that is invested into the sport.
In getting to know the Evanson’s, it becomes very clear that the dynamic this family has is unique. They are truly a special team that make many sacrifices for the benefit of our drivers and who invest as much time as they can into the people who support NASA. The result is a fantastic club that fosters an enjoyable and safe environment for everyone who participates.
Article written by Geri Amani.