It has been more than 20 years...
It has been more than 20 years since Richie Evans died. His marks will likely stand up well through the test of time.
The world was shocked and saddened when the news came from Martinsville, Virginia, on October 24, 1985. While practicing for a season-ending race, one of the all-time greats was killed in a crash. Richie Evans was dead at age 44.
In his career, which spanned half of his life, Evans made his marks in a big way. A native of the Rome, New York, area, Evans became known as the "Rapid Roman" in the Modified ranks. While his career in racing started on the dragstrip, the straight-line experience was one that was rather short-lived. He became a service station mechanic as a teenager, and a local driver enticed him to build a Hobby car for the local Utica-Rome track. Evans did, but he eventually found his true calling in the Modifieds.
In 1970, he logged his first of three track championships at Fulton Speedway. The second title came in 1971, with the final honor in 1974. He added track titles at Spencer-Williamson Speedway with a trio scored in 1976, 1977, and 1983. He tallied 49 wins at Spencer-Williamson, 40 at Fulton, and added 22 at Lancaster for good measure.
His prowess extended beyond the weekly wars. Evans claimed a NASCAR Modified series title in 1973 at the wheel of a Gene Dewitt-backed entry. Evans and Dewitt would form a powerful team. This combination rolled to eight straight NASCAR Modified titles between 1978 and 1983. They were virtually unstoppable. In 1979, Evans had 60 NASCAR starts. He won 37 and finished out of the Top 5 on only six occasions. It may have been his best year, but 1983 wasn't bad. In that year, he rolled out for 68 starts, gathering 31 wins and an amazing 57 Top-5 runs.
There are plenty of other highlights in his racing career. He had three wins in the prestigious Race of Champions, and one of those victories occurred at the venerable Trenton track. The other two wins came at Pocono: one on the superspeedway and one on the 31/44-mile inner track.
Evans raced at Daytona in the Modifieds and scored back-to-back wins in 1979 and 1980.
After his death, Evans' name began to appear on various halls of fame for the sport. The National Motorsports Press Association included him in the class of 1986. Ten years later, he became the first (and to date only) Modified driver to be enshrined in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. There are many memorial races held in his honor, including the main event of the New Smyrna (Florida) Speedway World Series of Asphalt Racing every February.
It seems that no one celebrates...
It seems that no one celebrates like this anymore. Darrell Waltrip in Victory Lane at Daytona in 1989.
Victory at Last Does anyone remember how to do the Ickey Shuffle? It was a dance made popular by Cincinnati Bengals running back Elbert "Ickey" Woods, who celebrated his 15 touchdowns in 1988 with the distinct dance. Woods, a second-round draft choice from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, rushed for over 1,000 yards in his rookie season, but never gained more than 200 yards in a season after that. His brush with fame was a swift one.
The racing world got a firsthand view of the Ickey Shuffle in Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway in February 1989. As a way of celebrating his first Daytona 500 win, Darrell Waltrip broke into the dance, then spiked his helmet, symbolic of Woods spiking the football at the end of his celebration.
Unlike Woods, Waltrip would have great measures of success in his sport. His Daytona win was the 74th of his career and there would be 10 more to follow, including five more in the rest of the '89 season. Woods, on the other hand, gained 94 yards total in his '89 season. The '90 season was off for both as Waltrip was winless and Woods bowed out of the game after gaining 162 yards.
For Waltrip, the Daytona 500 win remains a highlight in a career that had plenty of high points. His first win came in the friendly confines of Nashville. As fate would have it, Waltrip, now an owner of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, saw his first win with that team in Nashville, though at a different track. Waltrip's win was at the Fairgrounds, now known as Music City Motorplex, while his driver David Reutimann scored the win at the Nashville Superspeedway.