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New Podcast: From Challenge to Champion, Meet ORMHOF Inductee Evan Evans

New Podcast: From Challenge to Champion, Meet ORMHOF Inductee Evan Evans

In this episode of the Conversations with Big Rich podcast sponsored by the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, we hear from ORMHOF Class of 2023 inductee Evan Evans, who turned challenges into championships, setting a course to the Hall of Fame.  (Scroll down for show notes and podcast link.)

Evan was racing for his father’s off-road team Walker Evans Racing in 1989 and had won four races in a row, driving a Jeep Cherokee in Class 6 during the SCORE/HDRA season.

On July 13, 1989, a motorcycle accident significantly changed Evan’s life. He was thrown from the bike when he hit an unmarked ditch at a construction project near his home. He was paralyzed from the chest down.

"When the doctors told me my spinal cord had been severed, it was my worst nightmare come true," said Evan. "But I decided then and there, I was not going to give up."  

Father and son:  Walker and Evan Evans in the shop, shortly after Evan's accident.

Evan spent the next year in rehabilitation, while also working tirelessly to build his first race vehicle equipped with hand controls out of a Chevy Blazer that his mother had been using for trips to the grocery store.

Evan continued to race off-road before finding his niche in short-course racing, where he went on to become one of the winningest drivers in short-course history. 

In the winner's circle: Evan takes another checkered flag.

1996 was a banner year for Evan. He raced his way to the SODA Series World Championship in Class 13, was the SODA Heavy Metal Challenge Winner at Bark River SODA Series, was named the SODA Series Driver of the Year -- in his rookie season -- and set a SODA Series record for wins in a season, winning 7 of 8 races, including 6 races in a row. He also won the SODA Winter Series Championship at Glen Helen Raceway with 3 wins in 4 races. 

That same year, Evan was named to the prestigious All-American team by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, the first off-road short-course driver ever named to the team. He joined the Chevy Thunder Manufacturer Team earning 10 wins and became a spokesperson for the GM Mobility Program.  

Riding high:  Evan is a true champion on and off the track.

Evan teamed with the GM Mobility Program to build a covered viewing platform at Bark River International Raceway for handicapped patrons, which is still in use to this day.  With help from sponsor Chevrolet, Evan also organized the construction of a handicapped spectator terrace at Crandon International Raceway.

Evan Evans was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2023.  On the left is Evan's longtime sponsor and friend Spencer Mackenzie, and on the right is Evan's father and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Walker Evans.

During his professional off-road career of more than 20 years, Evan has 57 wins and 6 championships in the United States, and 26 wins and 8 championships in Baja. This year he joins his father, Walker Evans, as a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Evan was nominated for the Hall of Fame by Jeff Renick. “I am also in a wheelchair,” Jeff told ORMHOF. “After meeting Evan in 1991 he inspired me to give off-road racing a try myself. I never got to Evan’s level, but I’m very glad to have given it a shot. Evan would be an ideal inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame!”


5:40 – when we stayed in Ensenada as a kid, I would use stickers like money

7:50 – it was John Nelson who gave me my shot at racing                                

12:31 – “you driving this pre-runner Datsun, which isn’t even a real race truck, is like you winning overall” 

20:15 – I went through rehab in four months…two days later I was in the race truck at the Baja 1000 starting line

26:34 – I needed a hell of a brake system to get enough power to stop the vehicle with my arms

30:35 – I only had $8K to go back and race a full season

37:33 – at this point, only myself and Dale Earnhardt, Sr had two contracts with Chevrolet as spokespersons and race car drivers

47:07 – all my heroes are in ORMHOF; to be included is a huge honor



Rich Klein has recorded more than 170 episodes of his popular podcast series, Conversations with Big Rich, which is available on major streaming services.  Rich is also the publisher of 4LOW Magazine and promoter of the W.E. Rock rock crawling series.  He was recently appointed to the board of directors of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. 


ORMHOF is a proud sponsor of the Conversations with Big Rich podcast series.  We invite you to support the mission of the Hall of Fame to educate and inspire present and future generations of the off-road community by preserving the history of those who came before. ORMHOF has earned a Gold Seal of Transparency from the non-profit rating service Guidestar.  Join, partner, or donate today.  Thank you.