Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In the Rearview Mirror: Richie Evans, the “King” of modifieds

Continuing this spotlight on the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees for 2012, Richie Evans holds the honor to become the first driver outside of stockcars to enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Join me in looking back In the Rearview Mirror at the life and career of Richie Evans.

NWMT 60 Richie Evans 02
Credit: Howie Hodge
Richard Petty is known as “The King” of NASCAR but expanding upon that moniker, Richie Evans was the “King” of the modified racing circuit.

Evans, a native of Rome, New York, began racing in 1962 entering hobby stocks before later moving up to the modifieds he became known for.

Right off the bat, Evans was successful in the modified division, winning his very first feature in the season's final night in 1965. From there, Evans never stopped winning.

Claiming his first championship in 1973, Evans was a dominate driver in the modified division, matched only by his rival Jerry Cook. Cook would win six NASCAR national Modified titles in his driving career but Evans won a record-setting nine titles, including eight consecutive from 1978-1985.

The Evans vs. Cook battles became legendary; both drivers were from Rome and would drive by one another’s race shop. With multiple modified races being run in a week, a game of cat and mouse ensued between both drivers. Using “dummy trucks,” decoys would drive by each shop headed in the opposite direction of the intended travel. Cook and Evans usually ended up at the same races and competing against one another.
Credit: Howie Hodge
Evans’ accomplishments were numerous throughout his career. During the 1978-1981 seasons, Evans competed in more than 300 races and won more than half of those races. By 1985 Evans had collected a total of 18 individual track championships.

1985 marked the dawn of the modern era for racing in the modified division with the creation of the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Evans continued his reign and won the first ever Whelen Championship, having the title clenched in the second to last race of the season.

Heading into Martinsville, the final race of the season – Evans was already the champion. Tragically, Evans would be killed in a practice session crash and never get to celebrate that final championship.

Evans may have been lost on Oct. 24,1985 but his memory has not been forgotten. In fact, Evans' impact on NASCAR was such that he will become the first non-stockcar driver inducted into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame in January.



Amanda Ebersole offers Skirts and Scuffs readers a look back at NASCAR history 13923424986_nJZQNIn the Rearview Mirror. The great sport we enjoy today has glorious roots and is full of wonderful history, so join Amanda each Wednesday as she reminisces. What is your favorite memory of the golden days of NASCAR? Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter or e-mail.

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