|Steve Evans, the
man that every racer wanted to see when he or she climbed out of their race car at the end
of a quarter-mile pass at an NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national event, knowing that
an interview from the renowned broadcaster meant that they had done well, was discovered
dead in his hotel room Nov. 1 in Las Vegas. The cause of death is being reported as of
natural causes. He was 58.
Evans was in Las
Vegas to cover a World of Outlaws event, just one of the many racing series beyond drag
racing where his knowledge, expertise, and skill were valued.
Evans became a familiar face to drag race fans for more than
two decades of NHRA drag racing primarily as the top-end reporter, rushing to the scene to
inform racers of their record runs or congratulating them for their victories. Evans was
loved by the racers, who often opened up their emotions to the man behind the microphone.
Evans worked on NHRA's syndicated TV shows for more than two
decades working and for 18 years covered NHRA drag racing on TNN, ABC, and NBC. He was the
host of the weekly television newsmagazine NHRA Today, which aired more than 500
shows between 1990 and 1998.
Evans got started in drag racing early, announcing drag races
at age 19 at the fabled San Gabriel and Fontana tracks in California and later managed all
three of Southern California's famed tracks - Lions Dragstrip, Orange County Int'l
Raceway, and Irwindale Raceway.
He began announcing national events in 1966 and a year later
went to work full time for NHRA as editor of National DRAGSTER, and later as public
Evans also is remembered for an endless variety of
unforgettable and award-winning radio commercials hawking weekly events at the tracks that
he managed. In 1987, Evans released Be There, a cassette compilation of his
greatest hits, along with other memorable drag racing radio commercials. He recently
re-released the collection in CD format.
Evans is survived by his wife, Sandy, and three children.
Funeral services are pending.
A memorial fund has been set up in Evans' memory.
Contributions may be sent to the following address:
Steve Evans Memorial Fund
27422 Via Garcia
Mission Viejo, California 92692
Friends remember Steve:
NHRA founder Wally Parks: "Steve Evans was one of us. He was
family. I recall the day when his father, Jay, who was our concessionaire at Pomona
Raceway, came into my office at NHRA and told me about his kid, who had 'literally grown
up in a speed shop and needed a job.' When Jay asked if we could help to find a place for
Steve, I hired him as part of the National DRAGSTER staff.
"Steve later became a part of Bernie Partridge's national events
announcing team, along with Dave McClelland, and from that time has served an active and
impressive career as one of drag racing's most prominent and highly popular goodwill
"That Steve will be sorely missed is an understatement. He was a link that
connected us all, in our enthusiasm for what we do. He was a positive and colorful
presence that will long be remembered."
Dave McClelland, Evans' longtime broadcasting partner: "Steve and I
go back as friends and co-workers to the mid 60's. We had been together as track
announcers, both local and NHRA National events, track promoters and then television co
"Steve and I worked together on the NHRA Series alone for over 20 years.
We each watched the others children grow up and constantly compared notes on not only the
racing world and working climate but family and friends as well.
"While it has been a few years since we were split by the networks, Steve
to TNN, me to ESPN, we have stayed in constant contact, talking at least once a week about
the state of the worlds we live and work in.
"To call us best friends is probably the understatement of the century.
Steve had the depth of knowledge and skills in the racing world to relate to everyone who
watched and listened. There was no one like him."
Pro Stock Bike racer Terry Vance: "It was nearly 30 years ago that
I first 'met' Steve Evans. I was 17 years old and racing at the famed Lions Drag Strip on
my then street-legal motorcycle. Our meeting was not a common one. I can remember Steve
telling me if he caught me cutting in line one more time 'I'd never be able to return to
Lions.' Soon after those weekly encounters, we became friends. And even from those early
days Steve always encouraged me with knowledgeable direction and concern. Over the years I
was fortunate to work with Steve on a number of projects. When I think of Steve I realize
he was a man who truly loved the sport of drag racing. Now that Steve is gone, I think we
all will agree that the sport of drag racing loved him as well. We'll miss you
Brian Hughes, Senior Vice President, Sports and Outdoors, TNN: "We
are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague, Steve Evans. He has been an
integral part of our TNN Motorsports team for nearly two decades and will be sorely missed
by the entire TNN family. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and loved
Mark Kuchan, Director of Motorsports, TNN: "Steve was a true
professional and was dedicated to continually improving his craft. He made significant
contributions to TNN Motorsports and helped define and grow our franchise. Above all, he
was a true pleasure to work with and we will miss him dearly. His legacy at TNN will never
Cindy Harmon, former producer, NHRA Today:"Steve Evans rocked. He
embraced the sport, its fans and even its critics. He had an uncanny way of making all of
us involved in the television aspect of the sport look good. His passion for drag racing
was unparalleled and his knowledge, expertise and willingness to share that enthusiasm
with everyone was without equal. He loved the sport, he lived the sport and he helped make
the sport what it is today. I am so grateful for the many years I had to grow under his
tutelage, to marvel at his work, to watch him hone is craft, to laugh at his antics and to
come to love the sport he viewed as part of himself. He was one of a kind, and inspiration
to many and a dear friend to me. My thoughts and prayers are with Sandy and the kids. A
greater advocate for the sport of drag racing there will never be."
Kevin Kenworthy, former producer, NHRA Today: "I was not as
fortunate as some who got to work with Steve from his earliest broadcast days to the
present, but it was indeed a privilege to have served as his producer for "NHRA
Today." He was a consummate professional who turned his vast knowledge into
meaningful commentary week after week no matter which sport he was reporting on.
As for his drag racing family, I know that he will be sorely missed. His mere
arrival at a driver's pit between races seemed to inspire even the greatest underdog to
reach deeper for a strategy that would help them overcome the biggest giants in the sport.
And for the giants, he was a familiar friend that could help them shake off a difficult
run or celebrate a win.
"This week on NHRA Today... we are saddened by the loss of a great talent