Ray Evernham

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Raymond Evernham
Born (1957-08-26) August 26, 1957 (age 56)
Hazlet, New Jersey
Residence Cornelius, North Carolina
Occupation Consultant
Known for
Spouse(s) Erin Crocker
Children 1
Website
Ray Evernham Enterprises

Ray Evernham (born August 26, 1957) is an American consultant for Hendrick Companies. In 1999, Evernham won the NASCAR Winston Cup Illustrated “Person of the Year”.

Racer[edit]

Evernham was a modified racer. When he was 26 years old, he was hired by the International Race of Champions (IROC) as a chassis specialist. Drivers were impressed that he could translate what they were saying about the car's handling into technological adjustments.[1]

He crashed at Flemington in the middle of the 1993 season.[1] He damaged his brain stem, which left depth perception impairment.[1] He said, "When you wreck that bad, you don't remember anything about it."[1] As a driver, he added, "I couldn't meet my own expectations, and that frustrated the hell out of me." His accident prompted officials to put foam blocks in the corners to lessen impacts.[1]

Crew chief[edit]

Evernham started working for NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki at the end of 1991. Their personalities clashed, and Evernham stayed with Kulwicki for six weeks before quitting at Daytona.[1] As he was walking out of the garage area and NASCAR, Ford engineers Lee Morse and Preston Miller stopped him.[1] They had worked directly with the Ford teams, including Kulwicki's, and they were impressed with Evernham.[1] They suggested that Ford might find Evernham another assignment outside of NASCAR's top division (Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup). Jeff Gordon had just become a Ford driver and he had mentioned that he would like to work with Evernham again. The two had worked briefly together in 1990, when Evernham had worked on some chassis setups for Gordon's Pontiac team.[1] Evernham thought back to that brief time with Gordon, remembering, "From the first day we ever worked together, boom! We hit it off. We had fun, we did good, he was what I wanted, and I was what he wanted."[1] Gordon's owner, Bill Davis Racing, did not want to hire Evernham for their NASCAR Busch Series team. "Bill Davis didn't want me," Evernham later recalled. "But Ford paid my salary to go and work for Bill Davis, because Jeff wanted me there so bad."[1]

Evernham remained the crew chief for Gordon after he moved up into the Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) from the final race of the 1992 season to 1999. Gordon and Evernham won 47 Cup races, 3 Cup championships (1995, 1997, and 1998) and were the dominant team in NASCAR Cup competition at the time.

Car owner[edit]

Evernham left Hendrick Motorsports and Gordon/Evernham Motorsports in 1999 to form his own team, Evernham Motorsports, which in 2000 announced Bill Elliott would drive for him as well as Casey Atwood. The team ran in 2000 out of Elliott's race shop and Atwood ran a limited schedule in 2000. The team would also be the cornerstone for Dodge's return to Winston Cup racing in 2001. On August 6, 2007, it was announced that George N. Gillett, Jr. had purchased a majority share in the team, and that the name had been changed to Gillett Evernham Motorsports. The transaction was similar to the creation of Roush Fenway Racing. On January 9, 2009, GEM then completed a merger with Petty Enterprises and brought the team's famous #43 car into the fold.[2] Owner George N. Gillett, Jr. told reporters that the team would change names to reflect the merger, with Richard Petty Motorsports or Gillett Petty Motorsports being two of the potential names. The team finally decided on the former name on January 19, 2009. Late in the 2009 season, RPM announced that it was to merge with Yates Racing. In late 2010, Evernham sold his remaining share in the operation.

Revival of Dodge[edit]

Founded in 1999, Evernham Motorsports was created to lead Dodge back into prominence in NASCAR’s elite racing series and field two competitive teams. With the backing of nearly 3,000 Dodge Dealers and the Chrysler Group’s performance brand Dodge, Evernham was fielding cars in the NEXTEL Cup Series, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck Series, as well as in the ARCA, USAC and Dodge Weekly Racing series. Before the 2001 Winston Cup season, a Dodge had not raced in the series since Phil Good at the Pocono Raceway in June 1985. Evernham led Dodge's return to NASCAR by fielding two full-time cars in the 2001 season. Bill Elliott was named to drive the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge on March 10, 2000. The driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge was announced to be Casey Atwood. In the last race of the year Bill Elliott claimed Evernham Motorsports first win in the Homestead 400.

In 2002, Jeremy Mayfield was added to Evernham's program, taking over the No. 19 Dodge from Atwood. In 2002, Evernham found success with his new program by witnessing Mayfield win the Winston Open, as well as Bill Elliott winning back to back in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono and The Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In 2003, Elliott ran strong with several 2nd place finishes and won the next to last race at North Carolina Motor Speedway at Rockingham and nearly won the season finale at Homestead, cutting a tire while leading on the last lap, surrendering the lead and win to Bobby Labonte in Elliott's last full time race.

In 2004, Kasey Kahne took over the 9 car with Elliott running part time in a third car, number 91 and Mayfield in the 19.

In 2006, Jeremy Mayfield was fired for "lack of performance" and for comments deterimental to the team. In August 2006 Elliott Sadler was announced as the new driver of the 19 car.

Television career[edit]

Evernham has dipped into television several times as an analyst. He has worked three separate stints for ESPN/ABC: in 2000, 2008-2010, and 2012-2013. He has worked both race coverage and studio coverage at various points.

Evernham is host of the show AmeriCARna on Velocity channel.

Controversy[edit]

During the 2006 season, former Evernham driver Jeremy Mayfield was fired from the #19 car for 'lack of performance,' as stated by the Evernham team. Court documents reveal that Mayfield blames Evernham's personal life, included a claim that a "close personal relationship" had developed between the then-married Evernham and development driver Erin Crocker, and "sub-par" equipment as the reasons he has not won a race in 2006.[3] Evernham admitted that he had an ongoing relationship with Crocker. Furthermore, he said about Crocker, "The proper thing to do and something her and I would like to do is move her to another race team."[4] Evernham and Crocker eventually were married at a private ceremony in Las Vegas on August 26, 2009.[5]

Evernham is also known for having been penalized with one of the largest fines in the history of NASCAR. The fine was for $60,000 and was imposed for using unapproved suspension parts on Jeff Gordon's car in May, 1995. It was originally the largest fine in NASCAR history, until being eclipsed by Michael Waltrip Racing's $100,000 fine in February 2007 and $300,000 fine in September 2013 for the infamous Richmond controversy involving drivers Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex, Jr. and Brian Vickers, Carl Long's $200,000 fine in May 2009.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hinton, Ed (2001). Daytona: from the Birth of Speed to the Death of the Man in Black. Warner Books. pp. 267–269. ISBN 9780446611787. 
  2. ^ David Newton (2009-01-09). "Petty Enterprises and Gillett Evernham Motorsports merge - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  3. ^ "NASCAR - Sporting News". Scenedaily.com. 2012-09-25. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  4. ^ David Newton (2007-07-28). "Evernham admits relationship hurt driver's career - Racing - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  5. ^ "Ray Evernham and Erin Crocker Evernham live happily ever after - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 

External links[edit]