Evans, who tragically lost his life in a 1985 practice crash at Martinsville (VA) Speedway, was famous locally for his 33 wins and four track titles in a 13 year career at the popular Vernon, NY oval. Amassing nearly 500 wins at 38 different speedways including 26 track championships at 11 different tracks, Evans was a local hero. The nine time NASCAR Modified champion and his famous “Big Orange” hauler were known throughout the country and family members and friends gathered to pay him tribute.
That tribute to Richie Ev ans included running a 61 lap Race of Champions Modified special event paying a whopping $6161.61 and retiring his famous number, 61, from competition.
Decker immediately opened a sizable lead with Billy Van Pelt in hot pursuit from his third starting spot. Before the first caution flag flew on lap 11 for a flat tire on the Chad Phelps, Haun Welding Supply car, the leader had already begun lapping the rear of the 28 car field.
While Decker was establishing a new track record of 18.5 sec. on the half mile oval, there was plenty of position swapping happening with Pat Ward moving into second on the lap 11 restart. Ward’s fine run was stalled on lap 17 as the fourth caution came out when Ward suffered a flat right rear tire. At that same time Ronnie Johnson and Ryan Phelps also headed to the pits to replace flat tires as well.
The caution was out again on lap 37 when multi-time track feature winner and current track champion Stewart Friesen lost a motor in his Teo-Pro car .
With Jimmy Phelps aboard the J & B Installations sponsored Troyer car, the main contender from the midpoint of the event, he very nearly got the break he was looking for when Decker slid over the turn two banking. Decker managed to execute a great save, coming back on the track and holding the lead.
In a post-race interview Decker joked he was “out picking worms and I’m not even going fishing tomorrow.”
Late in the race Alan Johnson, driving the Andy’s Service sponsored, Jake Spraker owned #1J, made a strong charge to move into the top three. Early in the race Johnson had been hampered by vision problems as a tear off got stuck on the window screening and his visor had fogged up.
As the checkered flag waved as the 61 green flag laps were completed it was Billy Decker, Jimmy Phelps, Alan Johnson, Willy Decker and Brett Hearn making the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Steve Hulsizer, Pat Ward, Steve Paine, Bobby Varin and Brian Weaver.
The Pro Stocks were the first feature event on the “Richie Evans Remembered” card with 21 cars going to the initial green flag. A. J. Digsby grabbed the early lead from the pole with Joe Palmer contending for the lead from the onset.
By lap 5 Brett Belden had moved from the eighth starting spot to the runner-up position and quickly jumped into the lead on a restart caused by the Dave Meeks mount erupting in smoke.
With Belden comfortable in front, Rob Seavy moved into the second spot while division point leader Jim Normoyle was on the charge from his 11th starting position.
After losing several positions in a turn 4 tangle, Normoyle recovered to finish third behind winner Brett Belden and second20place finisher Rob Seavy. Shawn Frost and Bill Knapp rounded out the top five.

RACE OF CHAMPIONS DART DIRT MODIFIED SERIES FEATURE FINISH (61 LAPS)- BILLY DECKER, Jimmy Phelps, Alan Johnson, Willy Decker, Bret Hearn, Steve Hulsizer, Pat Ward, Steve Paine, Bobby Varin, Brian Weaver, Jeff Rudalavage, Alan Barker, Jim Davis, Larry Wight, Paul Kinney, Billy VanPelt, Gus Schmidt, Chad Phelps, Mike Colsten, Paul Jensen, Jackie Brown Jr., Billy Shantel Jr., Mitch Gibbs, Ryan Phelps, Stewart Friesen, Jamie Christian, Ronnie Johnson, and Bob Henry Jr.
DNQ- Tony Steiner, Darwin Greene, Jeff Kotary, Mike Ward, Jeremy Vunk, John Ramsey, Mike Ricci, John Ramsey, Brian Murphy, Bill Trexler, Tim Nye, John Lutes Jr., and Ted Lamb.

PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS)- BRET BELDEN, Rob Seavy, Jim Normoyle, Shawn Frost, Bill Knapp, Tom Denton, Dan Ody, Jack Terrell, Jerry Holmes, Matt Shadic, Ivan Joslin, Ed Ostrander, Joe Palmer, AJ Digsby, Rich Dauenhauer, Rick Trexler, Dave Moyer, Chris Mackey, Jim Grippin, Dave Meeks, and Mark Effner.
Billy Decker Dominates Richie Evans Remembered Event at Utica-Rome
By Don and Jo Ann Davies
VERNON, NY - The once postponed “Richie Evans Remembered” 61 laps Race of Champions Dart Dirt Modified Series event was all Billy Decker as he cruised home to victory at Utica-Rome Speedway driving the LJL Racing #91 big block powered Bicknell mount.
Decker took the lead immediately at the drop of the green and added another win to his impressive string of victories scored to date in 2008.
Richie Evans, who began his racing career at Utica-Rome Speedway in201962 at the track drag strip, made the switch to Modifieds in 1965. That marked the beginning of his legendary career.
“Just like Babe Ruth is synonymous with the New York Yankees,” stated track owner Gene Cole, “Richie Evans is synonymous with Utica-Rome. Retiring his number, the famous black and orange 61, is how we chose to recognize his great career.”
VERNON, NY- The legendary Richie Evans from Rome, NY is the greatest NASCAR Modified driver of all-time who tragically lost his life in a 1985 crash at Martinsville (VA) Speedway. Evans began his racing career in 1962 at Utica-Rome Speedway in a drag car, moving to the Modifieds in 1965 winning the final event of the season.
On Wednesday August 13th, Utica-Rome Speedway will remember Evans as its greatest and most popular driver ever as it hosts the Race of Champions Dart Dirt Modified Series in a special “Richie Evans Memorial” 61-lap feature event paying $6,161.61 to win. The entire evening’s events will be a fitting tribute to “The Rapid Roman” at his hometown track where it all began. Joining the Big Block/Small Block Modifieds in will be the Pro Stocks. Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m.
When Utica-Rome Speedway was one of the premier asphalt Modified tracks in the late 60’s and 70’s, Evans collected 33 wins in a 13 year span at the track while collecting four track titles along the way. What makes Evans’ record stand out at Utica-Rome was the fact that he won against some of the stiffest competition that ever competed in the NASCAR Modified division, with names like Jerry Cook, Maynard Troyer, Geoff Bodine, Ed Flemke, Rene Charland, Bill Wimble, Lou Lazzaro, Sonny Seamon, just to name a few.
Evans’ success reached out far beyond his home track as his “Big Orange 61” would be seen hauling to any track that would be staging a Modified event on the East Coast. Overall, Evans collected nearly 500 wins during his career at 38 different venues, spread across 14 states and provinces en route to his unprecedented nine NASCAR National Modified Championship, his first coming in 1973 with his final title being awarded posthumously after his tragic 1985 crash at Martinsville Speedway. Evan’s name can also be found in the record books as track champion at 11 different speedways on 26 different occasions, including three at nearby Fulton Speedway and one at Oswego Speedway.
Evan though Evans’ career was cut short, he left his mark on the national racing scene that is still quite evident today. He was inducted into numerous Hall of Fames, including the National Motorsports Press Association (1986), FOAR Score (1986), International Motorsports (1988), New England Auto Racers (1998), New York Stock Car Association, and Oswego Speedway (2000). In 1999, he was named one NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers on all time and number one on NASCAR’s Modified Top 10 list. During his career, Evans was voted as NASCAR’s Modified Most Popular Driver a record nine times, an important distinction for any driver who repeatedly parks in victory lane.
To celebrate the stellar career of its greatest driver, Utica-Rome Speedway will host the “Richie Evans Remembered” night with an event featuring the Race of Champions Dart Dirt Series for the Dirt Modifieds. The race distance will be 61 laps, commemorating the number made famous and used by Evans for most of his career. The Pro Stock division will also be in race action. Numerous items will be on display from Evans’ career, including cars, trophies, and apparel.
In a special pre race tribute, friends and family will help Utica-Rome Speedway pay their respects to Evans with a full color guard. All of Richie’s children are expected to be on hand to participate. The number 61 will be retired from use at the speedway in the Modified division forever, with a permanent flag which will fly above the speedway infield. The 61 is already retired on the NASCAR Modified tour and it is long overdue at Evans’ home.
Wednesday August 13th 2008
Late Utica-Rome champion Richie Evans to be inducted to NASCAR Hall of Fame
By DAVID M. JOHNSON, Dispatch Sports Staff
Next week, Rome native Richie Evans and four others will receive racing’s highest honor when they are inducted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
It’s an event many central New York racing fans will watch on television and one Wampsville resident Doug Zupan wouldn’t miss for the world.
Zupan, the historian at Utica-Rome Speedway, will join track owner Gene Cole, former owner Dick Waterman and seven others for the January 20 induction in Charlotte, N.C.
“Even though I never personally knew him, he’s always been my life hero, my racing hero,” Zupan said. “There will never be a bigger hero in my life.”
Evans won four titles at U-R in his orange No. 61 then went on to win nine NASCAR Modified championships - including eight in a row from 1978-85.
His final title was awarded posthumously after a fatal crash during a practice session for the final event of the 1985 season at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. He was 44 years old.
Zupan saw the “Rapid Roman” win a modified race at his first trip to the racetrack as a six-year-old and he’s been a fan ever since.
Later that year, Zupan remembers exactly where he was when he learned of Evans’ death.
“I was riding in my dad’s 1973 olive-green El Camino,” Zupan said. “It was my dad, my brother and I. We were listening to WMCR radio and it came on.”
NASCAR’s class of 2012 is the third to be inducted since the Hall of Fame opened in 2010. Drivers Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman and Darrell Waltrip will join Evans and owner Glen Wood as the other members being honored. Continued...
Evans will not only be one of the first 15 entrants to the Hall of Fame, but will be the first modified series driver to be inducted.
“It is such an honor,” U-R track manager Barb Clark said. “We’re very proud to be part of it. We’re not part of the Evans family, but Utica-Rome was his home track. Utica-Rome is where everything started.”
Because of Evans’ local significance, Cole decided to take a group down to attend the ceremony in person.
“It’s very simple,” Cole said. “Richie raced his first race at Utica-Rome Speedway. I thought it was proper for Utica-Rome Speedway to have a representation there.
“Richie is hitting a home run. Yankee Stadium (is) the house that Ruth built as Utica-Rome is the track that Richie built.”
Fans can still see Evans’ orange and black No. 61 car at the Rome Sports Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame and the number 61 has been retired at Utica-Rome and NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour.

“In racing, you have drivers that win a lot that get booed and nobody likes them,” Zupan said. “Richie was loved by everybody. If you were a modified driver at that time, he was the guy to beat.”
NASCAR Hall of Fame inducts Rome NY’s Richie Evans
By John Tiff

Charlotte, NC- If you are from Rome NY and you were in wandering around the Charlotte area this past weekend, there was a pretty good chance that you ran into someone you knew.  Hundreds of race fans, most proudly wearing the color orange in a show of support of Richie Evans being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, made the pilgrimage to from Upstate New York to the Queen City to witness the occasion.  In fact, fellow inductee Darrell Waltrip and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion took notice when he stated, “I know that somewhere up in Rome NY that there is a men's shop that is missing a whole bunch of orange ties.”
Joining Evans and Waltrip as 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees were Cale Yarbrough, Dale Inman, and Glen Wood.  Evans is the first driver in the Hall of Fame that did not come from NASCAR’s premier Sprint Cup Series.  Also, Evans is the only driver to have his number retired by NASCAR as well as at Utica-Rome Speedway.
Evans, whose race operation was based out of Rome NY, started his stock car career at Utica-Rome Speedway in 1962.  During his 23 year career which ended tragically in a practice crash at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 1985, Evans had amassed 478 wins, 28 track championships, and a record nine National Modified Championships.  He raced against the best drivers in the division’s greatest era, beating them all wherever he went.  Evans’ won at 38 different tracks in 14 states or provinces.
During his acceptance speech for his own induction, Waltrip praised his fellow inductee Evans and his skill behind the wheel of asphalt Modified.  “I watched Richie win race after race after race at Martinsville.  In my world it’s what I call a wheelman, and he was the best wheelman I ever saw,” said Waltrip.
Tim Brown, a Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver and star of History Channel’s Madhouse series on racing at Bowman-Gray Stadium, also had something to say about Evans. “Richie Evans is the whole reason why I race.  Richie and Jerry Cook (another Rome native who captured six titles himself) used to come down here and beat the locals.  It was an inspiration to watch him.”
Accepting Evans’ induction was his wife Lynn, who thanked his many fans for keeping his legacy alive while looking over the crowd with many sporting the familiar Evans orange.  Much of Evans family was on hand including most of his children and grandchildren plus former crew members and friends.   Evans’ crew chief Billy Nacewicz gave a brief speech and introduced Lynn on stage to officially induct Evans into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Utica-Rome Speedway had a large presence on hand as well with a party of 10 on hand for the weekend’s festivities including current track owner Gene Cole and the track owner during Evans’ greatest years at the track, Dick Waterman.
Evans not only affected the sport’s biggest names to the local racers, but he had a huge following of fans that carry on his legacy to this day.  In fact, his legacy seems to continue to grow as fans learn about the man played hard but raced even harder.  That was never more evident than when going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame gift shop where one employee stated, “I think the whole state of New York is here for this event.” 
By Sunday, the gift shop was out of Richie Evans Hall of Fame merchandise while the other four inductees still had plenty on hand.
NASCAR claims that millions of people watch it product every week on television with all it glamour, corporate sponsorships, and sleek race cars but it is a local short track racer from Rome NY that still is capturing the hearts of race fans everywhere despite being gone for 26 years.

VERNON, NY- One of the biggest events in local short track racing is rapidly approaching as Utica-Rome Speedway and the Carbone Auto Group team up to present the Richie Evans NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Celebration.  An action packed night is planned, highlighted by the Race of Champions Modified Series which will pay $10,000 to the winner of the 100 lap main event.  The Race of Champion Sportsman Series will also be in competition as they battle for 30 laps that will be worth $1,000 to the victor.  In addition to the racing action, there will be activities planned to keep everyone entertained all night long.

The Carbone Auto Group 100 will be part of the Race of Champions Series North Region, which current Utica-Rome Speedway Modified point leader Stewart Friesen is also leading and he is looking to pad his point lead with a top finish in the special midweek event.  However, he will have to defeat talent field to do so as Jimmy Phelps, Billy Decker, Danny Johnson, Ryan Godown, Jimmy Horton, Matt Sheppard and Kevin Bates are just some of the drivers that follow the RoC North Series, then you add in some of the top weekly drivers like Pat Ward, Mike Mahaney, Alan Johnson, Ryan Phelps, Larry Wight, Ronnie Johnson, Jimmy Davis, Steve Hulsizer, Jason Rood, Casey Williams, and more you have a star studded field of drivers.  On top of that, add in the likes of possible entries of Brett Hearn, Tim McCreadie, Bobby Varin, Rob Bellinger, and plus more and it the $10,000 winner’s check can go to just about anyone.

Defending track champion Matt Janczuk plus Jeremy Vunk, AJ Filbeck, Steve Way, Claude Hutchings, Jr., and more will be looking to defend home turf against the traveling band of invaders which includes Jeff Crambo, Danny Tyler, Anthony Perrego, Eddie White, Nick Petrilak, and a host of others.  In June, over 30 teams were checked in to do battle for the $1,000 top prize in an earlier RoC Sportsman date until the rains came and cancelled the event.

The fun starts at 3:30 p.m. when the gates open, and first the first hour until 4:30 p.m., early attendees will be treated to free hot dogs while a Jumbotron in the midway area will play videos highlighting Richie Evans’ career and NASCAR Hall of Fame induction.  Another video of another local legend, Jack Johnson, will also be played which will cover his career and induction into the Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame this past spring.  The videos will be replayed several times throughout the evening.

An assortment of vintage stock cars will also be on display all evening long, giving some of the younger fans a glimpse at the past while some of the more experienced fans can relive the good old days.

Five lucky contestants will be picked to have a chance to “roll the dice”, possibly winning a 2012 Dodge Challenger courtesy of the Carbone Auto Group.  In order to be eligible, all you have to do is purchase a grandstand ticket or pit pass, 18 years of age or older, and not employed by the Carbone Auto Group.  They is no guaranteed winner and only one grand prize.

Racing action will begin at 7 p.m. with a full slate of heats, consolations, and main events with the night being capped off by a huge fireworks display.

The whole night’s activities are being held to celebrate the induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this past January of Utica-Rome Speedway’s most famous driver, Richie Evans.  A nine time NASCAR Modified Tour Champion, including eight in a row, Evans’ amassed over 400 wins during his impressive career including 33 at Utica-Rome Speedway.  His tales of his and fellow Rome NY native and future NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Jerry Cook’s battles up and down the east coast are legendary as they fought for valuable NASCAR points.  Evans' came to an abrupt halt during a practice crash in Martinsville in 1985.  To this day, Evans is revered by fans and drivers alike, many whom have never seen him race or competed against him.

A special thanks goes out to the Carbone Auto Group for their support in this event.  From their humble beginnings in 1929 when a 19 year old kid from East Utica named Joe Carbone started his own business to the award winning dealership that it is today, the Carbone Auto Group continues to be a leader in the auto industry as well in the community.  The Carbone Auto Group serves the Utica, Albany NY area and southern Vermont with their outstanding customer service and more information about the award winning Auto Group can be found at www.carboncars.com.