Untitled Document

BMR LEGEND SERIES

National Hot Rod #932 - Davy Evans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davy started racing in the banger class at Aghadowey Stadium in the early seventies before moving into the production ranks soon after. It was here that Davy's committed attitude and stylish driving soon marked him out as a driver to watch and it wasn't long before his battles with the Robinson brothers, Stevie Morrison, Norman Woolsey and Jimmy Stewart were a regular highlight at race meetings. The Irish Championship however eluded him for a number of years, as first Noel and then Robert Robinson denied him the crown in consecutive years. Finally in 1979, armed with a new Vauxhall Chevette, Davy laid that bogey to rest and secured a long overdue production crown.

With all the loose ends tied up in the productions, it was time for Davy to step up into the hot rod division and onto the international stage. Easter 1980 saw an immaculate red and white Vauxhall Chevette hit the tracks and with it began one of the greatest rivalries in local oval racing. Undisputed star man on the local rod scene was Ormond Christie, the reigning British and Irish champion at that time, but here, finally, was another Ulsterman with the talent to challenge Ormond on equal terms. Their styles were totally different, Christie the epitome of coolness, never a wrong move, relentlessly quick and smooth, whilst Davy was more spectacular in his driving style, willing to try the impossible, harrying here, hassling there. Sure it didn’t always come off and the #932 car sometimes ended up clipping the fence or tangling with another car, but that was all part and parcel of supporting Davy. His legion of fans bore testimony to the excitement he created on track and they were only too happy to go along for the ride. The combination of Christie and Evans went together like bacon and eggs as their battles propelled hot rod racing to the number one attraction on the local oval scene. A hard season of racing climaxed with a tense Irish Championship battle at Ballymena Raceway which Davy edged to claim his first major title in hot rod racing.

That domestic success confirmed Davy’s reputation as a top local racer and the following year the wider hot rod racing fraternity would soon become aware of his talents as well. Davy qualified along with Ormond to represent the province in the World finals at Ipswich and the pair would leave the event as number one and two in the World. That simple statement only tells half the story of course and doesn’t explain the drama that unfolded in the closing laps. After an early battle with defending champion Duffy Collard it was Christie who looked set to cruise home well clear of the field, but he hadn’t allowed for Davy staging a tremendous late fight back that brought him right onto the rear bumper of the #962 machine in the closing laps. As the pair took the final lap board his trademark determination forced Davy to find some way of snatching the win and as the entered turn one the #932 car took to the speedway shale and moved into the lead. A black cross as well as the chequered flag greeted Davy at the finish line, but it says a lot about the character of the man that he accepted his fate with good grace and dignity, as first on the road became second in the official result. Any hot rod fan who had never heard of Davy Evans before that day was left in no doubt after this showing, his first ever race at Foxhall remember, that the Templepatrick man would soon be back to claim the gold roof for good. Unfortunately for Davy his opportunities to impress on the mainland were limited for the rest of the season, but the Irish Open crown was captured on home soil at Aghadowey to underline his growing reputation.

Another Vauxhall Chevette was built in readiness for the 1982 season and once again it was Christie and Evans who travelled to Ipswich carrying the hopes of the province at the World final. This time nothing was going to prevent Davy from capturing that World crown and after an early battle with Barry Lee the #932 car eased further and further away from the pack to secure a dominant victory. Before the end of the that year the British title was added with a brilliant round the outside drive at Buxton, the Irish Open title was retained and the Irish Closed recaptured at Raceway during a success laden second half of the season. The honours continued to arrive in 1983, with an Irish Grand Prix win added in May, before Davy was selected as captain of the Northern Ireland hot rod team that contested an international challenge against an English team headed by Lee. The event was staged at Raceway in June and recorded for national television coverage by the World of Sport cameras. Despite some awful weather conditions the drivers put on a tremendous show and Davy was immensely proud to be captain of his country and thrilled to be a central figure in an event which showcased the sport he loved so much. With the World final rapidly approaching Davy sprung a surprise on his fans by forsaking his usual Vauxhall Chevette for the Toyota Starlet model more readily associated with his great rival Christie. Davy's new mount, decked out in his traditional red and white colours, carried him to a fine third place finish in defence of his World title and many more good results were recorded in the majors during the second half of the season. On the domestic scene however the relentless pressure of non-stop, two or three times a week racing had began to take its toll on the drivers and the falling car turnouts coincided with a dip in Davy’s own enthusiasm for the sport. Passing cars and working through traffic was the part of racing that excited him the most, but with fewer cars on track that challenge was reduced. Davy started to cast his eyes towards other forms of motorsport and during the winter the hot rod was adapted to compete in rallycross events at Boyd’s Quarry and Mondello Park with some success.

Another Toyota Starlet was prepared for the 1984 season, this time in an unfamiliar blue and white colour scheme, but a link-up with Fred Kane’s Autotune rally hire business, which Davy would subsequently run, provided him with an opportunity to try his hand at rallying and his outings on the ovals became less and less frequent. Davy being Davy of course his first rally would not be a clubman’s rally or a single venue event, but the biggest on the Irish rallying calendar, the Circuit of Ireland! This was a time when ‘The Circuit’ was indeed that, a five day, six hundred mile examination of both man and machinery. Starting in Belfast on Good Friday the event snaked its way via Dublin to Waterford for a loop of stages on Easter Sunday, before returning via the West coast, through Donegal to Belfast again on Tuesday. Some in the organising committee sneered at the suggestion of a stock car driver being allowed to enter the event at all without any previous rallying experience and even more eyebrows were raised when Davy was seeded number 17 in an entry list that read like a who’s who of rallying. The top ten included no less than five works supported Opel Mantas for Jimmy McRae, Russell Brookes, Bertie Fisher, Billy Coleman and Austin McHale, a works Audi Quattro for German star Harald Demuth, the Rothmans Porsche of flying Finn Henri Toivonen, not to mention top privateers such as John Price and Kenny McKinstry. This was the calibre of opposition Davy faced as he pulled his Nissan 240RS up to the starting line on stage one to contest his first ever rally stage in anger. By the end of that Hamilton’s Folly test he had proved all the doubters wrong in no uncertain fashion by setting the seventh fastest time recorded by anyone. Oval racing fans swapped the stands and terracing of the raceways for the hedgerows of Ireland to offer their support and Davy’s performance created a great sense of pride within the oval racing community. Here was one of our guys sticking it up to the motorsport establishment and proving, yet again, what we all know; if you can drive on the short ovals, you can drive anywhere. At the end of five days of fierce competition Davy and co-driver Roy Kernohan had hauled the Nissan home in an astonishing third place. A top six finish on the Manx International, coupled with a fourth place at the Cork ‘20’ rally propelled him to third overall in the STP Irish Tarmac Series by the end of the year.

With his rallying commitments taking up more of his time 1984 proved to be a quiet season for Davy on the ovals. A heavy smash at Aghadowey on May Day did little for his enthusiasm for hot rodding. The car was rapidly repaired just in time to participate in the British Championship later that same week where Davy brought the patched up machine home in sixth place at the Raceway staged final. Despite a restricted schedule Davy still managed to qualify for the World final where he finished in the top eight once again. Little did we realise then that we would never see #932 race at Ipswich again, and the rod was sold on shortly afterwards as Davy concentrated on his rally exploits.

As 1985 approached it looked as if Davy’s career was set to blossom even further. His exploits in rallying had brought him to the attention of a wider motorsport audience and the prospect of realising his ambition to become a works driver was now surely within touching distance. Like his friend and great rival Ormond Christie, Davy’s racing career had been built on hard graft rather than hard cash and perhaps ahead lay an opportunity to get paid for doing what he loved and did best – driving cars quicker than anybody else. No one could quite comprehend it then when the shocking news filtered through just before Christmas that Davy and his brother Kenny had lost their lives in a road accident while testing a rally car for a customer. For some supporters a little piece of the magic in hot rod racing died that day with Davy, but it was of course in the family home where he was missed most, as immediate relatives strived to cope with the loss of a son, brother, husband and father. The massive turnout attending the funeral service from both the oval racing and rallying world underlined what a highly regarded and popular figure Davy had become, especially amongst his army of fans for whom he always made time. Maybe they just wanted a chat, or an autograph signed or perhaps a picture taken. Whatever the reason, Davy had always been happy to oblige.

What might have been, of course we’ll never know. Davy’s talent would undoubtedly have taken him on to greater honours in the future and maybe, just maybe, we might even have been lucky enough to see the one thing we all wished for more than anything else; #932 back on the ovals some day. What we do know is that Davy packed more into his short career than most drivers could achieve in twice that time. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten, #932 Davy Evans.

MAJOR HONOURS

Production Cars

Irish Champion 1979

National Hot Rods

World Champion 1982

British Champion 1982

Irish Open Champion 1981 - 1982

Irish Grand Prix winner 1982

Irish Closed Champion 1980 - 1982

Rallying

3rd overall Circuit of Ireland International Rally 1984

6th overall Manx International Rally 1984

4th overall Cork ‘20’ International Rally 1984

 

 

 

 

 

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