SPOTLIGHT: Richie Evans
NASCAR’s greatest Modified driver, Richie Evans, created a legacy that was formed around an extensive list of accomplishments. Evans accumulated nine NASCAR National Modified championships from 1973-1985, twenty-six track championships, six New Smyrna Speedway (FL) World Series of Racing championships, and 477 accounted feature victories.
Evans’ passion for motorsports started off in Rome, NY where he became known as one of the fastest street racers in the area before starting short track competition at the Utica-Rome Speedway (NY). Eventually, the Rapid Roman started competing for National Modified championships by traveling up and down the East Coast and collecting NASCAR points. His first National title came in 1973 and 1978 would start a streak of eight consecutive championships. Evans was able to secure the 1985 series title which was the first year of NASCAR’s modern points format for the Modifieds.
Evans’ most prestigious victories were the Race of Champions in 1973 (Trenton), 1979 (Pocono 2.5 mile), and 1980 (.75 mile). 1980 would be his winningest season with a final tally of 52 victories. Although the majority of his wins came at the short tracks of upstate New York, Evans became very well known at the Southern New England tracks such as Stafford Speedway (CT), Thompson Speedway (CT), and Riverside Park Speedway (MA). He was given the NASCAR Modified Most Popular Driver award nine times in his career. Though his racing years, Evans was most recognized behind the wheel of Gene DeWitt’s orange #61 with Billy Nacewicz as his main crew member.
On October 24, 1985 Richie Evans was practicing for the season ending Modified Tour race at Martinsville Speedway (VA) when his car collided with the wall resulting in his death. The 44-year old racer had already clinched the season points championship at the previous event at Thompson Speedway. Evans has earned many awards for his accomplishments with the most noteworthy being his NASCAR Hall of Fame induction in 2012. He also is member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame, and the New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame. Evans was placed 32nd on ESPN’s Top 50 North American Racers of the 20th Century.
(Howie Hodge Photo)
(Howie Hodge Photo)
1985 Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway (CT) (Howie Hodge Photo)
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