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Friday, March 21, 2003 - 11:16:31 AM PST

by Phil Burgess, NHRA.COM

NHRA TV personality Steve Evans passes away


110300b1.jpg (5731 bytes)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 relations director.

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 ambassadors.

"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 workers.

"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 Steve."

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 ones."

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 be forgotten."

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 and friend."


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