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St. Mark's School of Texas
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The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas

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The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas

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Drop a gear and disappear

Eighth grader Jordan Envani shares his journey to becoming a top kart driver.
FAST+AND+FURIOUS+Envani+races+across+the+track+in+his+kart.
PHOTO / Winston Lin
FAST AND FURIOUS Envani races across the track in his kart.

Eighth-grader Jordan Envani is in his own world. Silence envelops him, despite the roaring of an engine directly below him. All he can see is a sliver of daylight through the reflective blue visors across his eyes. The smell of the two-stroke engine combined with the sweat of his helmet is a smell he is now comfortable with. From an external view, he is completely relaxed.

But behind his poised facade, his mind races to calm himself down. He doesn’t want to think at all. He just wants to do, to do what he has practiced over and over again without worrying. To get into a flow state.

Interrupting his self-talk, the wave of a green flag on the side of the track catches his attention through the narrow visor gap. Then, he floors the accelerator.

A conversation with a friend unknowingly changed Envani’s future. In fourth grade, he was talking with a close friend who mentioned his interest in Formula 1. Intrigued, Envani began his own research. He quickly became a fan of the sport, but that love didn’t prompt him to jump into a kart at a young age.

Despite the common perception that excelling in karting begins with hopping in a miniature kart at age five or six, Envani began at a “later” age, beginning in 2021, the summer before his sixth-grade year.  His racing all began at the indoor karting track K1 Speed, an international karting company.

That following year, Envani raced in a single Junior League event that was his true “intro to karting.” However, his passion for racing was not yet full-fledged. It wasn’t until he was scrolling Facebook Marketplace that he found a used kart.

“I thought it looked cool so I sent it to my dad and he said yes,” Envani said. “After it arrived, I just drove it around for fun. I didn’t really race. Then at the start of this 2023, I got everything I needed and then I started racing from there.”

Once properly equipped, Envani began learning all about setting up the karts and what types of races he would be doing. Using the six-by-four foot regulation Junior kart with a 2-stroke engine producing 22 horsepower — a number that can propel the karts to 80 miles per hour — he studied the factors for fast lap times and constantly tinkered with the kart.

Finally, on the Thursday before a race weekend, the schedule for Envani becomes significantly more packed. After finishing a long day of school, he quickly goes home and packs up his kart in a trailer to drive to the race location and drop it off. There, team mechanics and Envani will work on the final tweaks to the kart design for the weekend.

On Friday, the crucial practice session begins, something that can determine the final result of an entire race weekend.

“The practice sets how you are going to do for the weekend,” Envani said. “Regardless of whether you’re fast or slow, just how you feel going into Friday and how high your confidence level is will really determine how you do.”

Adrenaline and nerves are not even at their highest yet. Saturday is the first race day. In the morning, with butterflies in his stomach, Envani does a quick warm-up before settling into the grid for qualifying — another one of the most crucial factors for success on  race weekend. Qualifying decides the start placement for three mini-races on Saturday, all of which determine the final grid placement for the final race on Sunday.

However, despite three races remaining after qualifying is completed, the rest of the day after qualifying is surprisingly relaxing for Envani. It is not until sitting back down in the kart, lined up for one of the mini-races, that all the adrenaline comes rushing back.

“The second I start putting my gear on and sit down, there’s a minute before I start actually start driving, and it is just the most nerve-wracking,” he said.

On Sunday, after a quick warm up, the final race occurs. According to Envani, he is surprisingly calm once he arrives at the track, and any nerves, worries, or adrenaline never really kick in until right before the final.

When he begins the rolling start at the wave of the green flag, amidst the roaring of motors, Envani becomes silent. Alone in his helmet, mind racing, he is hyping himself up.

“All you can think is ‘what am I going to do?’” he said. “It is really scary getting up on the grid and seeing these people with the painted helmets and painted liveries that I watch on TV. Sometimes it feels weird having to push them out of the way and get around them when it feels like they are supposedly better than you. But you have to always think you’re better. You have to tell yourself that. It’s big mental stuff.”

The mentality of a driver is one of the biggest components of a great driver, something that Envani’s coach Arcane Motorsports Owner Trevor McAlister believes Envani has.

“There are certain people that you know have a different mentality in racing,” McAlister said. “There are not many young kids who are that gung-ho. [Envani] was the one wanting to do it. He works on his craft. He wants to learn how to work on his karts. He wants to know how to do everything about karting.”

This dedication and intense interest has yielded quick success for Envani. He has developed into a very competitive racer, now karting against older and quicker competition in both regional and national races. These types of races, rather than the less competitive club-level races, are the races that he plans on doing more of this year.

At Envani’s first regional race, what he considers his favorite race so far, he competed very closely with top racers until his engine clogged due to the windy and sandy conditions at the track.

Despite the less-than-desirable result, Envani’s ability to keep pace with and even overtake many is one of the most promising qualities of his skills. McAlister says that this is a tell-tale sign of Envani’s future.

“[The other drivers] have four or five more years of experience over him and have been to many more races,” McAlister said, “so the fact that he is right there and keeps pace with them is a really big deal. [Envani] is getting closer and closer every week, and now he’s at the point where we are waiting for a breakout moment.”

This talent, should Envani continue developing and dominating his racing, could lead to close-wheel racing and then to IndyCar, Formula 4 and even NASCAR.

And not only has his passion provided Envani with a potential career path in the future, but it has also taught him extremely valuable life lessons. Applicable to both racing and his life, Envani believes in a pedal-to-the-metal mindset.

“It’s really easy to get distracted if you don’t feel threatened like there is someone right in front of you or someone right behind you trying to pass you,” he said. “It’s really easy just to slow down, but you always have to keep pushing yourself and being as close as you can to be on the limit, even if there’s no one you can see.”

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About the Contributor
Matthew Hofmann, Life Editor