Industry Leader Balances Interests in NASCAR with Racetrack Ownership, Driver Development, Racecar Engineering and Television Broadcasting
MOORESVILLE, NC (January 27, 2009) – Ray Evernham has been long known for his leadership atop the pit box of NASCAR stars like Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne, guidance of Dodge’s return to NASCAR racing and technological innovation that changed the sport.Evernham announced today that he officially is passing the torch on race team entrepreneurship to new team owners like Tony Stewart and Tommy Baldwin. He will now focus his attention on broadcasting, preserving racing venues for future generations, helping develop young drivers and setting new records.
“I’m proud of the accomplishments I’ve achieved with my colleagues and partners over more than two decades in racing, from the early days in IROC to the championship years with Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon to leading Dodge’s return to NASCAR as a team owner,” said Evernham. “It has been an amazing journey, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible people and gain invaluable experience throughout the years.”
Evernham is relinquishing his leadership role at Richard Petty Motorsports to pursue new opportunities in motorsports, from grassroots racing to NASCAR and beyond. He is focusing his short-term efforts on establishing Ray Evernham Enterprises, broadcasting races for ESPN, managing East Lincoln Speedway, opening a new museum and entertainment facility in Mooresville, NC, (shown at right), helping develop young drivers and designing racecars for several key events.
“I’m not retiring from racing or putting NASCAR on a back burner,” he noted. “I’m committed to the growth and success of the sport overall, and to building championship teams and organizations in many different levels of racing in the future. I spent my first decade in racing driving and working on racecars. My next decade I went from a rookie crew chief to a NASCAR champion. My third decade I had the opportunity to lead a manufacturer back into the sport and own a team.. Who knows what my fourth decade in the sport will hold?”
Evernham, whom motorsports media voted “The Greatest Crew Chief of All Time”, won three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships as Jeff Gordon’s crew chief and led Dodge in its re-entry into NASCAR.
Long term, Evernham is looking at long-term opportunities to contribute his technological expertise, operational excellence, innovation and racing business acumen to the NASCAR business community as it redefines itself in the current economy.
“I wish Richard Petty and the entire Petty organization success in their new partnership with George Gillett,” added Evernham. “I’m proud of what I accomplished there, and am proud to see the Petty name live on as part of that organization.”
Ray Evernham will retain select contractual obligations to Richard Petty Motorsports, including a minority ownership in the race team and a consulting agreement with the team.Evernham has several projects on his plate, with plans for many more in the future. While he has been competing at Daytona in some form since 1984, this year he isn’t as busy preparing for the start of the NASCAR season. But, certainly isn’t relaxing in his retirement nor has he ruled out future involvement in the Sprint Cup Series.
Evernham Purchases East Lincoln Speedway
Evernham recently purchased the East Lincoln Speedway, a 3/8 mile dirt track located on Mariposa Road in Lincoln County, NC. The facility was built by Ralph Nantz and opened for racing in 1990. The 2009 season will mark its 19th consecutive year of racing. The Speedway runs various classes of cars ranging from Micro-sprints to Late Model Modified-Sportsman.
“When I sold the majority interest in Evernham Motorsports to George Gilllett in 2007, one of my goals was to find ways to give back to the sport and help up-and-coming drivers find a safe, low-cost way to race,” said Evernham. “Unfortunately, rising property values and land development have taken away many of the great dirt tracks around the country. With the acquisition of the East Lincoln Speedway, I can make sure that racers in the Charlotte area will have access to a safe, low-cost, family friendly racing facility for many years to come.”
The transaction was negotiated by Bob Mack, who also will be a minority owner of the speedway.
Setting the Land Speed Record
Creating Racing Opportunities for Young Stars
“It’s hard to be able to afford to make the transition to a larger car and get the experience you need,” he said. “I want to give young people who have talent and a commitment to furthering their experience an affordable way to move to the next level.”
Evernham on ESPN
Rick Hendrick on Ray Evernham:
What attracted you to him?
What was one of the best moments you guys had together?
Some of the most heartfelt moments was when I walked into the hospital in New York when Ray J was diagnosed with Leukemia and he wasn’t expecting me. I walked down the hall and they were sitting on a bed. I remember the emotions we felt then, and then the day I had to tell him I had Leukemia. We’ve been through some real trauma in life, too.He got me my first championship, so that was real special. I never thought I would win one of those things.
If you had to pick a new career for him, what would it be?
Bill Elliott on Ray Evernham
What do you think he’ll pursue next?
What will he be doing?
Would you go back and drive for him?
What do you see as his contributions to the sport?
He’s done a lot. He’s been very innovative. But now that NASCAR has really changed the playing field. Innovation isn’t what racing is all about. It’s part of showing up and doing a race. Now, you go through inspection today, versus what it was 5, 10, 15 years ago it paid a premium on what you could innovate and come up with new ideas. Shoot, there’s nothing you can do today.
What is his lasting legacy to the sport?
What about that Daytona 500 when you won the pole in Dodge’s first season?
Ray fell into the deal perfectly when he got in and when he got out, because if he was still in it today trying to find that next sponsor, that next deal is so much harder, versus what it was two, three, five, 10 years ago.
If you had to pick the next career for Ray, what would it be?