Mark Evans is back in hydroplane racingPosted: Updated:
Mark Evans of Chelan, Washington, has come onboard as co-driver for the UL-12 Unlimited Light hydroplane owned by Bob Schellhase.
Evans will be sharing the ride with Greg Hopp who with 17 wins, is the winningest driver in UL racing.
"I've got my Drivers physical; I'm updating my capsule training, and I guess I will be hanging out with you guys this season," said Evans.
Mark Evans, the older of the two 'Evans brothers' was first introduced into the world of racing by his Unlimited Hydroplane driving father, Norm Evans. Going fast and turning left all started for Mark in 1965, at the age of 8 in rural Eastern Washington riding snowmobiles, then four years later on an oval ice track.
Mark's first unlimited hydroplane ride came in 1979, but opportunities were few and far between. Finally in 1991 he got the call he was waiting for. Ron Jones, Jr. wanted Mark to drive the U-50 American Spirit .
"We went to the Indiana Governor's cup in Madison and won our first race", said Evans. "Not bad for a couple of goof balls". Evans was finally getting to do what he called some "serious racing" and continued with the America 's Spirit team until the end of the 1992 season. Mark went on to drive the famous Miss Budweiser in 1995 and 1996, before moving to the Pico American Dream in 1997, racking up 9 impressive race wins, including the famous "flip & win". Never before in the history of Unlimited racing had a driver flipped a boat upside down and come back to win the race, all on the same day.
Mark's great sense of humor and charismatic personality landed him the position of race commentator for ESPN's 2001-2002 coverage of the racing season. In 2002 Evans provided color commentary for Seafair coverage by the CBS affiliate, KIRO-TV, and at ULHRA races in Issaquah, Kamsack, Saskatchewan and Tricities, Washington.
Mark Evans finished second in the Indiana Governor's Cup and first in the Tri-Cities Columbia Cup in 2003 in the Miss Llumar.
Then it appeared the racing career of Mark Evans might end unhappily. While competing for the APBA Gold Cup at Detroit in 2003, LLUMAR WINDOW FILM did a 360-degree flip on the backstretch of lap-two during Heat 3-A. Mark's injuries were quite serious.
He suffered a broken right leg, a fractured vertebra, and blood clots. From his hospital bed, he learned that brother Mitch had won the race. In the years since his accident, Mark had kept his options open about returning to competition.
Still a fan favorite with demonstrated skill in front of a camera (including providing KNDO/KNDU-TV viewers with commentary on hydro broadcasts in the Tri-Cities), with a microphone, or sponsor's representative, Mark remained one of racing's best ambassadors.
Bob Schellhase, owner of the UL-12 Unlimited Light Hydroplane said: "Greg Hopp has done a fantastic job of consistently putting my boat into the Winner's Circle, but as he continues to also drive for a turbine team, Greg isn't always available. Mark Evans brings that same level of expertise in his driving ability and understanding of the racing equipment. Plus with Evans' announcing, spokesperson and on-camera experience, Mark brings a new dimension to our ability to serve our sponsors on and off the water."
Source: ULHRA news release