Every Christmas Day, no matter how cold or how much snow was on the ground, Richie Evans would drive his race car over to The Rusty Nail, the Rome, N.Y., bar that also sponsored his famous orange and black No. 61, to celebrate the holiday. For Evans was never far from his roots.
This week, short-track fans up and down the East Coast were celebrating the announcement that Evans would be one of five people inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Evans made his name with eye-popping statistics from his career in a Modified.
But Evans cemented his legend a long time ago with the stories that surrounded his career.
"He was just about huge entertainment and great racing. People don't forget that," said Mike Stefanik, himself a seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. "They remember guys like Richie. They remember him bouncing off the wall at Martinsville with his foot still in the gas.
"Those are memorable moments that never people never forget. I certainly haven't forgotten them."
Evans won a total of nine NASCAR Modified national championships, and he was named No. 1 on NASCAR's All-Time Top-10 Modified Drivers in 2003. He won an amazing eight consecutive Modified titles, including one in 1979 when he won 37 of 60 starts that season.
In a career that spanned more than 1,400 races, Evans won more than 475 feature events – everywhere from Thompson, Conn., to Daytona International Speedway.
In the intense culture of Modified racing, any career will always be measured against Evans.