An inspiring young 17-year-old, Evan Philo has had to face some of life’s biggest challenges over the past few months, with the sudden passing of his dad who was also his race partner.
With a new found determination Philo will now compete in this year’s 2016 Tatts Finke Desert race this weekend in loving memory of his father.
With his fathers passing being rather sudden at the beginning of the year, Philo has still been competing in the 2016 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, previously an activity he participated in with his dad. However, it has all been in training to fulfill his dad’s life-long goal of placing in the top 100 in the Finke Desert race.
We caught up with Evan, eager to share his story with the world, about how things have changed over the last few months and how it’s been going racing without his dad.
“It has been pretty emotional! It hadn’t crossed my mind leading up to competing in the AORC that I would feel emotional, or that it would affect me, but as soon as I got to my first round something clicked and it was hard,” Philo said.
“To be honest my first race in the AORC was really bad and I was ready to give up, but that was something that I always picked on dad for so I knew there was no way I could pull out of the race. It would have just been hypocritical.
“Being there with the other families and staying in the same caravan that dad and I use to bring when we would come together has been weird over anything else. As much as he was a pain in the arse, when you would come in from a sprint and he was always just standing there, I just really miss him,” he said.
Philo explains that after the initial shock of loosing his father, that racing Finke in order to honour his dad’s memory was the next thing on his mind.
“Having so many family and friends around me banding together to support and help me means so much. If I didn’t have these guys I don’t think I could have kept racing,” he said.
“Dad has been my biggest motivation for jumping back on the bike. I want to do the Finke and ride in his memory.
“I have been doing the AORC purely to train for the Finke, to help dad achieve his dream of trying to crack the top 100 in the Finke Desert race.
“After I got over the first day of just pure shock, the next most important thing to me was making sure I had his position, on his bike, with his numbers. It was something really special to me,” Philo concluded.
Talking about Finke, it is clear that Philo is prepared, and has the backing of everyone close to him to help achieve his father’s dream. Philo shared that he expects crossing the finish line is going to be emotional.
“The club has been so supportive in making the change from my dad’s entry to mine in order to ride in his place at Finke,” he said.
“I will be running my dad’s number, stickers, and as much else as I can in his memory. There are about 30 of us all making the trip to the Finke, which means I don’t have to do it alone.
“I think I will be fine up until the point where I cross the finish line, that will definitely be really emotional for me, and although it’s going to be challenging, it has never once crossed my mind that I wouldn’t do it!” Philo concluded.
Philo also shared memories of his father that are motivating him to race Finke, and that since his fathers passing he has a new outlook on life.
“My dad was always known as the guy to cut corners. He would always try and cut a couple of meters off the track somehow so he didn’t have to work as hard,” Philo said with a laugh.
“He always wanted to pull out of races because it was too dusty of too rough but I would always pay him out for it, and tell him to harden up.
“We didn’t get along well growing up, and it sucks that it takes something like this to happen to realise that everything he told me and everything he yelled at me for, was for a purpose.
“I may have thought he was being a pain in the arse but what he was saying was worthwhile and it had purpose. My outlook on life from now on has completely changed because of what has happened.”
Philo is already on his way Alice Springs to compete in 2016 Tatts Finke Desert Race in what will be an emotional but fulfilling roller coaster for the young 17-year-old honouring the memory of his father.