By Ryan Hopper | @ryan_hopper31
An Alexandria teen is finding the thrill of the track around every turn from Texas to Europe to Michigan’s upper peninsula as he hopes to someday realize his Formula One dreams.
Everett Stack,16, finished second in his debut in a Formula Three car in a test race in Summit Point, West Virginia, on August 19 and 20.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport with just a year of racing experience, Stack, a rising junior at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., has quickly risen through the U.S. Formula Racing development ranks. After making his successful debut, Stack hopes to be approved for his F3 license, which the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is currently considering based on his performance.
Typically, young drivers have to be in the Formula Four regional series for a full year before advancing, but because the FIA let Stack do a test race, Stack’s father, Larry Stack, said he believes his son will be able start in the F3 American Regional series by October at a race at the Virginia International Raceway.
Before committing to racing full-time, Stack, who lives in the Fairfax County portion of Alexandria, played two years of varsity football as an underclassman at St. John’s, which regularly ranks as a top program nationally.
“He was strong because he’s from football,” Larry Stack said.
“You have no power steering in these cars and you have to throw them around the track. So, he really did feel like he was advancing very, very quickly.”
F3 is a part of the Formula Racing development ladder culminating in the world-renowned F1, the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater cars. However, it should be noted that the American regional equivalents of F3 and Formula Two aren’t at the level of their European counterparts.
First, young drivers start in go-karting and then can move up the levels to F4, F3, potentially F2 and F1 for the truly elite. Stack started testing in a F4 car in Houston in March and quickly adjusted to the level despite a lack of experience.
To say F1 is exclusive would be an understatement, with only the top 20 drivers in the world competing in the series that holds grands prix around the globe. Each racing team is allowed only two drivers in F1, and year by year, few, if any, of the 20 elite drivers are relegated to F2 by their respective racing teams, leaving little room for upward mobility. While there are hundreds of teams around the world, just 10 compete in F1, each having a pair of drivers.
Stack races for a team called Jensen Motorsports, owned by Canadian former Indy Car driver Eric Jensen, who claimed that Stack’s rapid development as a driver has been “meteoric.”
While Jensen doesn’t have the vast resources to own an F1 team, his years of experience in the F1 development ladder and Indy Car can help Stack hone his skills behind the wheel going forward.
“You have to be somewhat pragmatic because everybody’s different [in] how they develop,” Jensen said. “Everett is developing really quickly and part of that also is we’re doing a lot of testing. So this summer while he was out of school And we’re traveling all over the country.”
Globally, but particularly in the United States, F1 is by no means a cheap or accessible sport. In fact, it makes traditionally expensive sports such as golf, hockey and lacrosse seem affordable by comparison. National and international travel are not uncommon and tracks cost thousands to rent out just to practice. In fact, Stack has traveled to the UK for the Mercedes Benz Driving School. However, these are expenses the teen’s family and the team ownership is willing to incur in Stack’s quest to become one of the few Americans to ever race in F1.
“It costs about $50,000 to $75,000 to rent a track per day,” Larry Stack said. “A lot of the kids he was competing against in Formula right now have been carting since they were five years old, so he needed to get seat time in order to develop his skill set.”
The recent popularity of “Drive to Survive,” a Netflix documentary about F1 drivers and their sport has driven families such as the Stacks to be more willing to travel to faraway places such as Houston, Austin and Michigan’s upper peninsula to find the thrill of the track and to practice.
Part of why “Drive to Survive” is so riveting is because of the risk drivers take every time they take the wheel moving at speeds upwards of 220 mph. While Everett isn’t driving that fast yet, the risk of a life-threatening crash driving at his current maximum speed of about 165 mph is something Everett’s parents are well aware of every time their son hits the track.
“I’m always worried about a massive accident on the race car track,” Larry Stack said.
“You can get hurt on the football field, but you could crash into a wall and much worse on the track so it’s a little bit more worrisome in the racing busi- ness than it was in the football business.”
When he is not flying around tracks at roughly dou- ble the speed of an aggressive driver on the Beltway, Everett is just a normal teenager.
He loves hanging out with his friends, listening to music and playing video games. Also typical of most teens, he tries not to think about the risks of what he is doing too much, despite the nature of what he does. Though he acknowledges that his mom certainly stresses more about each race and test than his father does.
“He cares about me,” Stack said. “But I think my mom is definitely the more worried.”
Stack received his license for a street car only months ago, shockingly learning to race at extremely high speeds on a track before learning to navigate the comparatively mundane and slower roads of Northern Virginia. One can only wonder how easy parallel parking is to him as his friends likely struggle.
The next challenge for Stack will be adjusting to the F3 level through the end of the fall and into next year as he looks to continue to climb his way up the ladder – something that Jensen is optimistic about. “There are not that many legitimate candidates in the U.S. to be future Formula One drivers,” Jensen said. “Everett is one of the legitimate candidates. So he’s a name to watch in the next few years. He’s being trained properly, and he’s being trained with a plan to get there. Whether he gets there or not, is really up to Everett
based upon performance.” While striving to get better, every day of precious track time is incredibly valuable to Stack. The feeling of being out there seems to be the driving force behind his love of racing. “It’s like one of the best things you could feel,” Stack said. “At least from my perspective, it’s really fun. It’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else.”
Despite his worries, some of that feeling even comes second hand to Larry Stack watching his son zoom around the track.
“It’s terrifying and exhilarating, all wrapped into one,” he said.
An Alexandria teen is finding the thrill of the track around every turn from Texas to Europe to Michigan’s up- per peninsula as he hopes to someday realize his Formula One dreams.
Everett Stack,16, finished second in his debut in a For-
mula Three car in a test race in Summit Point, West Virginia, on August 19 and 20.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport with just a year of racing experi- ence, Stack, a rising junior at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., has quickly risen through the U.S. Formula Racing development ranks. After making his suc- cessful debut, Stack hopes to be approved for his F3 license, which the Fédération Interna-
tionale de l’Automobile is cur- rently considering based on his performance.
Typically, young drivers have to be in the Formula Four regional series for a full year before advancing, but because the FIA let Stack do a test race, Stack’s father, Larry Stack, said he believes his son will be able start in the F3 American Re- gional series by October at a race at the Virginia Interna- tional Raceway.
Before committing to rac- ing full-time, Stack, who lives in the Fairfax County portion of Alexandria, played two years of varsity football as an under- classman at St. John’s, which regularly ranks as a top pro- gram nationally.
“He was strong because he’s from football,” Larry Stack said.