Remembering Richie!


Staff member
Originally posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 6:27 am by Mark: 

New Smyrna runs the 21st Annual Richie Evans Memorial 100 for the Modifieds tonight. I wrote this up for my site last year and released it accordingly on October 24.....



October 24, 2005 marks the twenty year milestone of nine time NASCAR Modified National Champion Richie Evans being gone after his Martinsville practice accident. Last year's book on Richie by Bones Bourcier was a thorough view of the driver known by his "Rapid Roman" nickname. There is no denying the lasting effect the Rome, NY native had on the Modified division and racing in general. Many people will say his success didn't hurt his popularity either as his legion of fans was enormous.

Richie's passing at Martinsville came days before the final event on the 1985 NASCAR Modified Tour (now known as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour). When Tony Siscone reached the crashed #61 car's driver side, he knew it was very bad. Richie was gone at the age of 44 and much of the magic in the Modified class left with him. His funeral service being well attended was an understatement.

Richie had locked up the 1985 NASCAR Modified Tour title the week before at the Thompson Speedway in Connecticut with his sixth place finish. It became his eighth straight national Modified title since that string began in 1978 and ninth overall since his first title in 1973. Richie's stats on the 1985 NASCAR Modified Tour showed 12 victories, 17 top five finishes and 21 top ten finishes in the 28 events he ran that year. Mike McLaughlin, driving the Len Boehler #3 Chevrolet in all 29 events on the schedule, finished second in points to Richie and was 123 points behind without benefit of one win on the series. The 1985 NASCAR Winston Racing Series Northeast Region championship was claimed by the Rapid Roman for the fourth consecutive season. He finished 125 points ahead of Reggie Ruggiero with 16 wins in 33 starts, 27 top five finishes and 30 top ten finishes driving his orange #61 Chevrolet Cavalier. The 1985 Spencer Modified title was grabbed for the fourth time over his B.R. DeWitt teammate Doug Hewitt #52 by a margin of 80 points and on the strength of five victories. Richie's close friend George Kent beat out Richie for the 1985 Shangri-La (name changed to Tioga in 1992) Modified title by 48 points. Richie had eight wins to George's four features. His final season brought another outstanding season in terms of wins and titles.

His travels took him to asphalt Modified events that were held from New Hampshire to Florida. Over thirty track and series titles were on his list of accomplishments along with the area of 500 feature victories that even included a handful of dirt features. Whether he was finishing first under the checkered flag on the high banks at Daytona International Speedway or on a tight bullring like Islip Speedway on Long Island, Richie was a force to be reckoned with as the size or location of the track was never an issue once he started winning features in the late 1960s. He was also friendly with his fellow drivers offering advice and help to those that asked for guidance. When Tonawanda, NY native Tony Jankowiak moved up to the Modified class in 1983, Richie became a mentor to him as he saw some of the same characteristics of himself as a young driver in Tony.

The 1986 season was definitely different and felt strange without the presence of Richie and his "Big Orange" ride. Countless racers also had orange #61 stickers on the upper left hand corner of their roofs in his memory. I even had one of them on my passenger car. It also became the first time in fifteen years that the NASCAR Modified National Title went to a driver that didn't reside in Rome, NY. Jerry Cook and Richie had shared the title between themselves for fifteen consecutive seasons when Jerry started the domination of Rome as the hometown of the yearly champion in 1971. Jimmy Spencer of Berwick, PA was the man that became the first driver outside Rome to take the title since 1971 when he became the 1986 NASCAR Modified Tour champion. On the heels of Richie's passing, Doug Hewitt retired at the end of 1985 leaving B.R. DeWitt without any drivers racing asphalt Modifieds with his sponsorship. Gene DeWitt moved his sponsorship over to the yellow #26 ride of George Kent early in the 1986 season. Gene and George stood in victory lane after the September Pocono (PA) Race Of Champions 250. It was the same prestigious race that Richie had claimed at the one and a half mile Trenton Speedway (NJ) in 1973 and at Pocono in 1979 on the two and half mile big track plus the 1980 win on the inner three quarter mile Pocono track. Gene DeWitt passed away in February of 1987 after backing Richie's efforts and including other drivers like Hewitt, Kent and Dutch Hoag for many years and enjoying the many trips to victory lane with all of them.

Whether you witnessed one of Richie's victories at a local track like Lancaster, Spencer, Holland or even Oswego, Shangri-La, Islip or Utica-Rome in another part of New York state, you can say you have the memories of Richie showing many other drivers how it was done effectively with his machine in his quest for victory circle. Many drivers can say they looked at the bumper of his ride or followed him home in second place. Of course Richie didn't win every race. Most can say they honestly respected him whether they were someone like a fellow driver, a fan, a crewman, an acquaintance or a family member. While most people will connect him with the #61, many were there to see him in a #6, a #6x, a #109 or even a brief appearance in a #24. The great times and races that Richie thrilled us with in his racing career are over. What isn't over and probably never will be to anyone that met him or watched him compete are his unforgettable personality and what a very successful driver that he indeed showed us. Long live the memories of the man named the number one driver of all time on the list NASCAR released in recent years of Modified drivers.

Thanks for the memories Richie! I'll certainly never forget you. I'm glad I had the chance to witness you race with your #61 that brought so much success and victories. The word legendary is richly deserved for Richie and describes his lasting effect in the minds of many people.


An outstanding profile about Richie can be found here [Pete's Racing Site's Modified Legend Profile on Richie], and there are many more Richie pictures and stories around the internet.

Source: Mark Southcott/
Posted: October 24, 2005


Staff member
Originally posted by LeadFoot

Last week, I purchased the racing books, "Ritchie", "Bugsy", and "The Pine". Read "The Pine" first, and just finished "Ritchie". Both books were well written and very interesting. I'm sure that "Bugsy" will be just as good.

Every east coast race fan should have a copy of each in their personal library.


Staff member
Posted on Thursday, July 20, 2006 - 11:26 am by Mark: 

Richie's 65th birthday would have been on Sunday, July 23, 2006.


Staff member
Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 8:23 pm by No74falcon: 

I wished I could share all my memories of Richie with everyone. I remember telling my father that Richie died that day at Martinsville. It was the only time I ever saw my dad cry.
they are some great photos, thank you for sharing, brings back memories


Greatest Mod driver ever!!!Loved watching him race the best of the best at Shangrila Speedway every Sat nt!!!R.I.P.Richie