Braden Eves is preparing himself for a do-over of epic proportions once the next Indy Pro 2000 season gets under way. The Ohio-born 2019 USF2000 champion was making fine use of his advancement scholarship from Road To Indy organizers Andersen Promotions when calamity struck.
Holding third in the standings, four points behind eventual champion Sting Ray Robb, Eves was sidelined just prior to the halfway point in the season when a mechanical failure caused his Exclusive Autosport entry to get airborne and flip on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Suffering multiple fractures to his neck and eye socket, Eves was done for the year as the healing and recovery process began in early September. With exceptional progress being made in that regard, though, the 21-year-old has seen a wave of negatives turn into a series of positives after being re-signed for 2021 to chase the Indy Pro 2000 title once again with Exclusive Autosport.
“It’s definitely not normal to have a team show this type of dedication to a young driver like myself, and I’m so happy about the people I’m with at Exclusive,” Eves told RACER. “(Team owner) Michael Duncalfe is such a good guy, and there wasn’t a question about wanting to get back with them.
“I also have to say thank you to Dan Andersen at Andersen Promotions to help roll the scholarship I wasn’t able to use much this year into next season. I think if we hadn’t had that freak accident with a parts failure, we would have been fighting for a championship. So we’re going after it again next year.”
Eves received more good news in late October which should expedite his return to the cockpit.
“I got the neck brace off two weeks ago, and that’s been great,” he said. “It was just a waiting game for a long time until I got the neck brace off, and once it came off, it’s been constant working out and training. I’ve been so sore from all the working out, but it’s a good thing!
“As far as doctor’s recommendations, they said to wait three months after the crash, so that’s early December, at the earliest. I’m going to start doing karting to get myself back into driving shape as best I can before we start testing with Exclusive Autosport for next year.”
The latest surprise that brought a smile to Eves’ face came courtesy of his New Zealand-based helmet painter.
“He’s done something really incredible for me by doing two full replicas of my helmet, and the detail he put into them is amazing,” Eves said of the half-scale models. “He did one for me, since my race helmet was destroyed in the crash. We’re hoping to auction the second one to help with our budget, so that’s what I’m working on now while I have the time.”