"Steve Evans drove hard:
as hard as anybody who ever bolted themselves into a race car.
Weekend after weekend, year after year, for three grueling decades
he risked it all in front of a microphone. He won most of the
time, but like all mortals, was bound to lose in the end.
It came not with a big crash
as we would have expected, but due to the grinding life; the
endless travel, the red eye flights, the fast food, the lumpy
motel beds, the marathon marches through a thousand pits and
paddocks in search of stories and, most of all, the incessant
pressure to inform and entertain a vast television audience...
it came silently in the night.
It was there, microphone in hand,
that Steve Evans scored his victories. No one will ever be able
to measure his contributions to the popularity of motorsports,
but thanks to his consummate professionalism, his encylopdeic
knowledge and his pure, boyish enthusiasm, his influence was
huge in scope and relevance. I consider myself doubly honored
to have known him both as a fellow journalist and a close and
loyal friend for much of my adult life. Already I miss him terribly."
I too miss Steve. I'll never
be able to watch another drag race -- or a sprint car race --
or a mud buggy race... you get the point... without thinking
that "Steve could do is so much better". I met Steve
when he was learning the ropes of drag racing at Fremont Dragway
in 1968. In 1970, when he replaced my hero and mentor (C.J. "Pappy"
Hart) as the manager of Lions Drag Strip, I was at first... "not
happy". But it didn't take long to not only like Steve,
but trust him. By the time he took over Irwindale Raceway we
were, and I don't use the term loosely, friends.
Over the last 30+ years, both
of us went through triumph and tragedy in our personal lives,
and severe twists and turns in our professional lives. We socialized
and commiserated... we partied and we griped. When the smoke
cleared, Steve did better than I... and that was okay with me.
I was unable to take my drag racing talents to another level...
he took his to the stars.
The photo above is very special
to me. Having never won a national event, winning the 1975 "Irwindale
Grand Prix" was a big deal for us. Everybody who was anybody
was there and we owned the race. Qualified #1 for the 32 car
show and won every round convincingly... setting low ET of the
meet twice. When all was said and done, I think Steve was happier
that I was. We had blown off ALL the heavy hitters and if there
was anything Steve Evans rooted for, it was the underdog. The
party that night was....... well, memorable.
Goodbye, Steve. We'll all be
together sooner or later and damnit, you better be there to do
the finish line interview! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday - BE
American Scene: Hard To Believe
That It's Been Five Years
November 30, 2005
By Dave Argabright
FISHERS, Ind. -- November is
the time of long shadows, gray days and thoughts of summers past.
The leaves are gone, the mornings are cold and the sun runs away
and hides in the middle of the afternoon.
And November is the time, five
years ago, that we said goodbye to Steve Evans.
He was interesting, he was outrageous
and he was memorable. To use one of his own phrases, he was "a
one-off." Nobody, in all the days past or all the days coming,
was anything like Steve Evans.
He was a pioneer announcer and
broadcaster, and he loved drag racing so passionately that he
allowed it to consume his entire life. Along the way he built
a prolific broadcasting career, and surfing the dial on a summer
night you might hear his voice calling the action at a drag race,
a sprint-car race, a demo derby, or a swamp-buggy meet.
For those who knew him only as
the voice through the speaker, you might have lamented his passing
because you admired his work. But for those of us who knew him
personally, it was so much more. He made us laugh, he made us
think, he made us shake our head, and, at least for many of us,
he made us better.
The first live television broadcast
of my career was at Las Vegas in early 2000 on TNN, joining Steve
and Bobby Gerould as a pit reporter. The first time they came
to me for a report, my microphone wouldn't work. For most of
the night I was tormented with electrical gremlins, and as you
might imagine I was extremely frustrated. But as soon as the
show was over Steve was right there to offer encouragement.
"Chin up, dude," he
said. "You'll never work another one like tonight."
He was right, of course. Things
got better, and it wasn't long before working with Steve was
one of the things I looked forward to. Actually, socializing
with Steve was even more fun than working with him. After the
show, I would sit there laughing while he entertained us with
great tales from a career that began before most of us were born.
I figure I've got a decent grasp
of racing history, but when it came to drag racing I quickly
realized that when Steve was around it would be best to keep
my mouth closed and listen, because I couldn't bring a dog to
this hunt, if you get my drift.
Early on I figured that Steve
was just another guy holding a microphone; boy, I couldn't have
been more wrong. His depth of experience was enormous. He promoted
races, he operated race tracks, he did publicity, and he recorded
about a million of those wonderful, "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!!!!"
drag-racing commercials on the radio.
He never claimed credit for inventing
that fabulous style, but he certainly elevated it to an art form.
In his later years he compiled a terrific CD called "Be
There!", which featured dozens of those great old commercials.
Steve was kind enough to give me a copy during that summer we
worked together, and at the time I didn't think much about it.
In due course, however, it would become one of the most special
and meaningful discs in my carrying case.
It's sad when I think of the
last few days with Steve. We were in Greenwood, Nebraska, for
a World of Outlaws broadcast, and they informed Steve that due
to cutbacks he wouldn't be back on our show the following season.
He was deeply disappointed, but I'll never forget how mature
and professional he was. No whining or name-calling; just acceptance
and moving on.
We had a few drinks that night
after the show at a small hotel bar in Omaha. The entire crew
was there, and it was a blast. Evans was in rare form, reeling
off jokes and stories and making us laugh out loud with his wry,
A few weeks later we were in
Las Vegas for our last show of the year. When we assembled that
afternoon for our production meeting, and Steve wasn't there,
I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, he had died in his sleep
of an apparent heart attack back at the hotel.
You'd have to go a long way to
find a darker night in Las Vegas, I can assure you.
I still pop that CD into the
player every now and then, and that powerful, charismatic voice
still makes me smile.
I often think about something
Steve told me on that long-ago night in Nebraska, when the whiskey
flowed and the night grew late and things got kind of blurry.
I told him how much I would miss working with him the following
season, and that it just wasn't going to be the same without
him roaming the pits with us.
He shook his head. "Nah,"
he said, with a wry, knowing smile. "That's the way this
business is, man. They forget about you in two weeks."
You're a long way from forgotten,
Steve. Five years later, we still love to hear that voice.