"Holy Toledo!"

June 30, 2007

Steve Evans, The Greatest Racing Announcer I’ve Ever Known

Filed under: NHRA — Bill @ 8:26 pm

Almost every afternoon I take about an hour and a half editing and putting on DVD my father’s vintage collection of NHRA Drag Racing videos.  You might remember the Diamond P footage on American Sports Cavalcade on TNN, USA Network, NBC, ABC.  It is a labor of love as I not only get to watch the films of the good old days of drag racing, I also am preserving it for future generations to enjoy.

My “other family” is the family I grew up with in the world of the NHRA.  As a kid I had two favorite announcers, the two men who brought me some of the most exciting and cherished moments of my sporting life.  One is Bill King, the man I named this site after, the man I consider one of the greatest announcers of alltime.

There is another voice I grew up with, a man who I love.

If you grew up as a racing fan than you might know the name Steve Evans.  If you grew up a drag racing fan than you definitely know the name Steve Evans.  Even those who don’t know the name know his most famous coined phrase,
“Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!” which was often heard on many radio stations advertising the next upcoming drag racing event.

Sadly Steve Evans passed away in 2000, ending one of the most unheralded announcing careers in sports history.  He isn’t given enough credit for what he accomplished, and much more needs to be told about the greatest racing announcer the world has ever known.

Rather than detailing the long history of Steve Evan’s announcing career, I prefer to share a much more personal moment that occurred in the fall of 1986.

My best friend Roy Kunz & I were standing at the staring line at the World Finals in Pomona, CA when we decided to take a trek to the end of the quarter mile in order to seek out Steve Evans.  Keep in mind my buddy Roy had terribly bad ankles and every step was a sharp pain for him.  As we walked around the huge grandstands we started to reminisce about our earliest
memories we had listening to Steve.

I recalled all the radio commercials played on the FM rock stations, Roy remembered watching him on American Sports Cavalcade, our favorite TV show in those days.  I told Roy how Steve had been only 19 when he first became an
announcer in Southern California at such tracks as San Gabriel & Fontana.

We remembered that Evans later managed all three of Southern California’s famed tracks Lions Dragstrip, Orange County Int’l Raceway, and Irwindale Raceway.  As we rounded the grandstands and headed out past the finish line we both became more excited at the thought of meeting this man we grew up listening to.

The loud voice of the track announcer began to fade and so did the volume of spectators.  Soon we arrived at the shutdown area, about a half a mile from where we had begun.  Roy’s ankles were killing him but suddenly he pointed and his face lit up, “Over there!”

As we walked up, there sitting on a golf cart with his camera man was none other than the great Steve Evans.  The first round of racing had just ended (yes we gave up watching racing to see Steve).  He was just about to leave on his way to the pits to record interviews, but he stopped  We introduced
ourselves.  He could of (he had a very reasonable excuse) left and brushed us off.  Instead he stayed and talked, laughed, and I must say was just like one of the boys.  We not only enjoyed meeting him, we felt like he enjoyed meeting us.

It may have only lasted 5 minutes but it seemed like it lasted an hour.  We all talked about old memories, as well as the current happenings, even the subject of rent-a-cars came up.  It was great.
Much later that afternoon Roy & I were walking through the pits as everyone was preparing for the final round.  Pressure was in the air, it was the final round of the ’86 season.

He saw us, he made a point to say hello and ask us how we were doing.  It spoke volumes about Steve Evans.

As I watch the old films of drag racing what I realize that is missing from today’s coverage is what Steve Evans gave us, the inside look.  He would show us Dick Lahaie’s clutch and explain what was going on.  He would explain Gary Beck dual fuel pump system, or Gene Snow’s high gear only clutch. 

He was a star yet he took time for a couple of boys who grew up learning from what he told us.

I grew up listening to him, I am better for knowing him, but the world of drag racing is better for learning him.

In 1995 my friend Roy passed away.  Five years later Steve Evans passed away.

I miss them both.

“Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!”

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7 Comments »

  1. >I just read this articale, I am a long time drag racing fan and remember steve evans very well. the other golden voice of the day was steves co announcer dave mclellend [ sorry if i spelt that wrong].

    Comment by rick hoffmeier — December 23, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

  2. I grew up watching Evans & Dave McClelland.

    Their words described Big Daddy, Shirley, The Greek, The Snake, The Mongoose, Gary Beck, Bob Glidden, Lee Sheppard, all my favorites from the early days.

    Recently I was editing an old American Sports Cavalcade drag racing show and was overjoyed to hear those two again.

    I’m sure I’m not alone when I say how much I miss them.

    Bill

    Comment by Bill — December 23, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

  3. i was born in 1987, and steve evans was my idol, i grew up LOVING and they walked away, always wanting to announce drag races. I never realized that dream, but i hope steve is living his dreams in heaven

    Comment by charlie macnichol — February 6, 2011 @ 4:16 am

  4. I too used to watch the Cavalcade just to hear Steve Evans…and whn he and Brock Yates called an IMSA race or a Swamp Buggy race, it was so well done and just seemed to be off-the-cuff…it was good stuff, and they liked racing, not just being the guys who yell at the screen about the FORTY SIX COR…

    Never one to insult anyone’s intelligence, but he actually used his own intelligence to help us get into the race and find out more about the drivers and cars…

    I have pulled a few torrents from back then and you always got an interview or wo with the guys who were racing the Light category or lesser forumla, qith euqal respect as the “big guys”…I miss those days.

    Dave McLelleand was another professional announcer who, to me, also seemed to be a bit of an intellectal, in the Sam Posey mold, but perhaps not afraid to get in bed with those evil rag racers.

    I think these days are over, Speed’s F1 team is pretty good in the old school sense…but no one compares to Steve Evans, really.

    Comment by LangMick — March 26, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

  5. Watching “Heart Like a Wheel” and really thought to myself, why had I not heard Steve in any kind of motorsports…now I know. Sadly, time marches on. I appreciate your reflections and share in missing this great man.

    Comment by Doc Lawson — September 5, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  6. There are certain voice’s in RACING …that you never for get .. Or you miss …. Steve Evans was one of them … You are missed ….. Another one is …Dave Mc Lelland

    Comment by Joe Lusko — November 21, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

    • Thanks for writing about Steve, I remember him fondly as a young boy watching Diamond P sports. I was very sad to hear of his passing. Tonight I shared swamp buggy racing with my boys, and there was Steve really miss hearing his voice.

      Comment by John — November 6, 2014 @ 4:55 pm


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