A Celebration of Richie Evans: A True NASCAR Legend
One of the beauties of NASCAR has been that a driver can make a name for themselves however they want. Some like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson made a name for themselves in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, while drivers like Todd Bodine have made their best showings in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. One driver made a name for himself in the NASCAR Modified Series and dominated the Modified Tour in his day – 2012 Inductee Richie Evans.
Evans sadly passed away at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 1985 but his legacy lives on. In recognition of his birthday today Hall historian Buz compiled a list of the Top 10 Richie Evans moments to share with you. Join in remembering Richie by adding your top Richie Evans moments too!
- Election into the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class: Richie Evans made history becoming the first non-Premier Series driver to be elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
- Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers: In 1998, Evans was selected during NASCAR’s 50th Anniversary as one of their 50 Greatest Drivers. This selection was special as he was only one of two Modified drivers on the list.
- Evans’ Ninth Championship 1985: Evans already had broken the record for most Modified Championships, but his ninth championship was sadly his last. Despite the sad end to his career, the championship was still his. His record stands to this day.
- Ritchie’s Good Ole 61: Most fans believe that NASCAR has no retired numbers. Even Dale Earnhardt’s iconic No. 3 and Richard Petty’s No. 43 aren’t retired. To this day, Evans’ No. 61 on the Whelen Modified Tour stands as the only retired number in NASCAR.
- Evans’ Seventh Championship 1983: Evans would become the most decorated Modified driver ever in 1983, when he broke Jerry Cook’s record of six Modified championships. 1983 would throw Evans into NASCAR history, tying him with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as seven-time major champions of their respective series.
- Greatest Modified Driver: in 2003, Evans was named the Greatest Modified Driver of All-Time by NASCAR in 2003. He is still recognized as the undisputed king of NASCAR Modified Racing.
- Most Popular Driver: Evans was voted Most Popular Driver of the NASCAR Modified series a record nine times.
- Evans’ First Championship 1973: Evans would finally prove his merit on the Modified Tour, winning his first championship in 1973.
- First Modified race in 1965: Evans grew up driving in a straight line as he was an avid drag strip fan. He eventually realized you could make more money driving on oval-shaped tracks. He tried his luck at a few oval tracks before deciding on the Modified Series. During the 1965 season, Evans won his first Modified race at the season’s final event.
- Martinsville race 1981: Evans dominated Martinsville Speedway, winning ten times. His 1981 victory could be the sweetest, as he crossed the finish line airborne due to a wreck. If there’s a spectacular way to win a race, Evans’ 1981 Martinsville triumph was the example.
Evans passing was far too soon and many wonder what he could have accomplished in the Sprint Cup Series. However, Evans knew what he wanted and the Modified Tour fit his plans, so he decided to stick to it. He was content running the series and became a true legend. We are proud Evans was announced as a member of the 2012 Inductee Class as his contributions to the sport, particularly the Modified Tour, are immense.
Despite his passing, it is wonderful to remember his many accomplishments and look back at his career and realize what a true superstar he was. Happy 71st birthday Richie Evans.