Braden Eves doesn't have a need for speed. He has a need for winning.
The 2018 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate competes on the Formula 4 racing circuit for Jay Howard Driver Development and enjoys whipping around a racetrack at 140-plus mph. But what he really craves is winning, which he frequently did while competing on the go-kart circuits.
Eves, 19, made the jump to F4, whose open-wheel cars are scaled down versions of those used on the IndyCar circuit, last year and has come home to race for the first time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington for the F4 U.S. Championship series stop Thursday, June 28, through Sunday, July 1.
"The best thing about racing is winning," Eves said. "I love making a car go as fast as it possibly can around a track. That is like a special feeling.
"(Speed) is so calculated. You go into a corner and you have to get on the brakes as hard as possible so that the weight transfers to the front and you can handle it through the corner. It's about braking as deep as possible without sacrificing exit speed. That's the key."
Eves started "karting" as a family venture when he was 6 years old and quickly found success, starting in Kid Karts (ages 5-7) and advancing through Rookie (ages 7-10), Cadet (ages 10-12), Junior (ages 12-15) and Senior (age 15 and older) levels.
He closed his karting career last year by winning World Karting Association (WKA) points titles in two engine divisions -- X30 Senior and Yamaha Senior.
"It started out when my dad (Greyson Eves) went to an indoor karting place and thought it would be a fun family activity, so we went down to Circleville, which is the nearest go-kart track," Eves said. "We just started racing when I was 6 years old and I was in the (Kid) Karts, which is youngest class and cars have a 50 cc engine.
"We did that for a while and I was getting quite good at it, so I moved up. We started doing regional events and I was always improving and getting better. My dad got out (of racing) when I was like 10 or 11 and I started doing regional and national races in the WKA Manufacturers Cup and what at that time was the Great Lakes Sprint Series, which was the regional series. We did that until last year when I was doing karting and F4 both last year."
Eves' success caught the eye of Howard, an IndyCar driver since 2008 who also coaches drivers on his eponymous development team. Two of his former drivers, Spencer Pigot and Juan Manuel Correa, have advanced from F4. Pigot is racing on the IndyCar circuit and Correa is racing in the GP3 Series in Europe.
"I started talking to Braden when he was in Juniors and I thought he was quite a good little driver, but he wasn't getting the results he deserved," said Howard, who finished 24th in the Indianapolis 500 on May 27. "He was fast, but he wasn't winning races. I knew that he had the ability but wasn't getting the job done. We fine-tuned his driving just a little bit and helped him build his confidence and things started changing."
Eves said karting helped him make the transition to F4. His first experience in F4 was a trial run last June.
"The level of competition in karting is extremely high," Eves said. "Everyone who races IndyCar or Formula One started out karting. They learn all of race craft there before moving to cars because it's so much more affordable.
"I had the opportunity to do a two-day test in F4 last year and, at that point, (Howard) said to my dad, 'We need to do Indy because we can win it.' It was only two days (last June), but we got that together and entered the race."
In last year's circuit stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Eves was runner-up in the opening race and placed third in the second race and fourth in the third.
The format of racing weekends in F4 consists of six events -- two 30-minute practice sessions, qualifying and three races. The races count toward season points, and a season is comprised of 20 total races in seven events.
"After Indianapolis, I had to take a break because we were looking for some sponsorship," said Eves, who also is sponsored by Zero Error Racing and Addison Holdings, LLC. "Karting is so cheap that we could afford it as a family, but the step up in money is so much that you can't do that in F4.
"I was able to get back in the car for the last two races (last season) at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The first weekend at COTA, I got third in the first race, second in the second and I won the third race. That was only my second (weekend event) in cars."
Eves ranks 10th in points with 24 through two events (six races) this season. Danish racer Benjamin Peterson leads the circuit with 99 points after events in Alton, Virginia, on April 27-29 and Braselton, Georgia, on May 10-12. The circuit did not have a stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this season.
"Braden has natural ability to drive fast and I was able to guide him down the right path," Howard said. "I would say he needs to work on understanding the business side of the sport, understanding how relationships work from politics to the business end.
"There is so much more to driving than showing up and racing. Driving is the least of all that we do. I've been working on the business side of things 12 years and I'm still learning. He has a lot to learn, as does everyone at that level."
Eves admitted the business end of the sport is challenging.
"The most difficult thing for me is not the racing side of it, but the fundraising side," said Eves, who graduated from Gahanna with a 3.9 GPA despite "probably missing 20 to 25 days per year" because of his race schedule. "It's tough trying to raise money to be able to go out and do what you love to do.
"This is like my education. The end result is Indy(Car). But before that, you have F4, Mazda Road to Indy and you have to learn what you need to get there. This is a bit like going to college for me, and I need to raise the money to do that. Eventually, I will be making a salary in IndyCar, but for now, it's really hard to raise the money."