Brazilian native follows family tradition in winning races, titles
SHELTON, Conn. – Growing up in his native Brazil, Elivan Goulart was like most youngsters in the country. He liked football (soccer) and auto racing.
In fact, auto racing was a way of life for the Goularts as Elivan’s grandfather was a racer, as was his step-father who drove in karting, FIA Rally and other cars.
So Elivan, the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car A series champion, was focused on and surrounded by motorsports at a young age.
“I played a little soccer in Brazil but I was always interested in racing,” said the 35-year-old driver from Shelton, Conn. “I was 11 when my family moved from Brazil to Connecticut and I wasn’t sure if I could race or not in the United States.”
At the time, Goulart did not know one word of English when he started elementary school in the U.S.
“I had to learn English and we had some bilingual programs in school as well as I was watching television and other things,” said Elivan. “It wasn’t easy but my family wanted to live in the United States and we had to make adjustments.”
Amidst all the changes, the one thing that was constant for the young Goulart was racing. Like his family members, he was fast. He ran his first U.S. karting race in 1993, finishing third in the Norwalk (Conn.) Karting Association. He was named “Rookie of the Year” in 1993 and he went on to capture multiple karting championships.
“My step-dad (Ademir Fedumenti, team owner) drove in the Formula 500 cars in the SCCA and that is what I wanted to do as a teenager,” Elivan explains. “I finally got the chance and made the most of it by winning the 2001 Formula 500 national championship. It was a big thrill.”
The next year at the SCCA Runoffs Goulart made it two in a row but in a much more dramatic fashion.
“It’s my most memorable racing moment,” he said. “I was battling for the lead and my car made contact with the leader’s car which launched my car in the air, with all four wheels in the air. I landed in the lead and went on to take the win. That incident happened on lap 10 of 19 and my car’s lower A-arm was like a pretzel after the race!”
Goulart has been successful in many divisions since that unique event including SCCA national titles in 2004 (Pro-F), 2011 (Spec Miata) and 2013 (STU).
Elivan continued his impressive runs around the country including setting track records at Lime Rock, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Monticello, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Sebring International Raceway.
But Goulart has had his ups-and-downs behind the wheel of a race car too including a wild multiple flip at 120 miles per hour at Nelson Ledges when an upper A-Arm rod end broke on his car.
“I wanted to get into the Pirelli World Challenge series in 2015 and we made a three-race weekend in TCA at Mosport (CTMP),” he said. “It was a way to check out things before a full season in 2016.”
Goulart made a big splash in his opening 2016 race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in March with a last lap pass for the victory in his No. 70 S.A.C. Racing/SCDA1.com Mazda MX-5 Cup. He then went on to win four more events and finished second four times in the 12-round PWC Touring Car A campaign.
“That initial win at COTA was one of the highlights of the season,” Goulart said. “Getting to the checkered flag for the win on the last corner pass was very exciting. And we won four more races in the first five. After that, we were playing a little bit of a points game as we wanted to win the championship in our first full season in Pirelli World Challenge.”
Goulart, owner of the Sports Car Driving Association and an automotive sales instructor when not competing in PWC, felt his team (S.A.C. Racing) was the reason he was able to claim the title.
“We had a little better preparation than some of the other teams,” Elivan said. “We did go into a defense mode later in the season with the large point lead early. I wasn’t going to make a mistake that could cost us the title. We had a braking issue at Road America and an electrical problem at Utah. We made some changes including swapping an engine and the car was very good at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the finale. And taking the championship was exciting.”
The Goulart family tradition has continued with Elivan’s seven-year-old son, Ethan, already a karting champion. He won the title at age six.
“I think Ethan has some talent and we will see how he goes in the future,” said Elivan. “Racing has been in the Goulart family for a long time and it would fun to continue it with Ethan.”
But Goulart isn’t finished with his racing career either as he currently works to move into the Touring Car division in 2017.
“We are celebrating the TCA championship right now, but we are concentrating on 2017 already,” said Goulart.