RACING LOSES A FRIEND WITH DEATH OF REV. PAT EVANS by Mike Twist
Founder of Racing with Jesus Ministries Passes After Battle With Cancer
Members of the Northeastern racing community were saddened this weekend to learn that the man who helped comfort so many through tragedy and also guide their lives through good times with spiritual advice was now gone. Reverend Pat Evans passed away Sunday after a long fight with cancer.
“It was 25 years ago when he had the personality to start this ministry and Don and I don’t,” said Rev. Dan Petfield. “We have the personality to keep it going and we will keep it going with the Lord’s help. It’s going to work and we’re going to keep it going no matter what. We’ll see it through.”
More important though than his legacy was the type of human being that Evans was. He was a true friend to everyone in the garage area.
Evans founded the Racing with Jesus Ministries and was a fixture in the pit areas throughout the region. He grew up around racing and even drove racecars himself in his younger years. In the late 1970’s, he started RWJM.
“Pat thought forward,” said Rev. Don Rivers of RWJM. “He started this ministry and didn’t listen to the naysayers. He knew that it was something that needed to be done and he did it. That didn’t make a lot of people happy sometimes, but it was because of his tenacity that 25 years ago this ministry got started. Today, you can ask the people on the Busch North Tour and on the Modified Tour and they appreciate us here and they want us here.”
And because of the groundwork that he laid and the people that Evans put his trust in, RWJM will continue as his legacy.
“Pat’s wish to us was don’t let this die,” said Rev. Rivers. “He wants us to keep it going.”
“Pat was a good guy,” said Rev. Petfield. “He loved each and every competitor. He prayed for them and cared for them. He gave his all. He not only gave his life, but he gave his money and finances. He gave up a lot, maybe even his health, for this ministry.”
"Rev. Pat was always someone who would take the time to shake your hand and talk with you,” said Speed51.com’s Matt Dillner. “It didn't matter if you were a fan, a driver or anyone. Emailing him during his illness, he always kept a great outlook on life. And even throughout his battle, he always asked how YOU were doing. He was a great guy who I shared a lot of good talks and laughs with."
Flemke ran $ as a number many times. Here he is winning at Plainville Speedway (CT) in 1964. (Vintage Modfieds Photo)
“He will be missed,” said Eddie Flemke after learning of Evans’ death. “He’ll be genuinely missed. But you learn by example and go on. What else can you do?”
Evans wasn’t just a friend because of his words, he was also a friend because of his actions.
“I hurt myself once at Waterford,” said NASCAR Modified driver Donny Lia. “I wasn’t racing, I just cut my head open getting out of the car. It wasn’t a big deal, but he went to the hospital and was right there sitting with me. It thought that was really nice. He really cared about everyone in the pit area.”
He’ll be greatly missed, but those who knew Evans take comfort in knowing that he has now passed on to someplace better.
“Right now Pat is rejoicing in heaven,” said Rev. Petfield. “He’s is in a lot better place.”
“Pat Evans isn’t suffering anymore,” said Eddie Flemke.
Evans was also well known to many who he never even met through his years of work as a columnist for Speedway Scene and Area Auto Racing News.
Possibly nothing can describe Evans’ effect on the racing community better than what was posted by someone on the neracing.com message forum.
Speed51.com's Matt Dillner talks with Rev. Evans at last season's North vs. South Shootout. (51 Photo)
Rev. Pat Evans (Ken Spring Photo)
“Our community will always be better because of him but it will never be the same without him,” said the words of the posting.
Evans leaves behind his wife Betty and two children. He was 57 years old.
Calling hours for Evans will be at the Dougherty Brothers Funeral Home, 595 Norwich Road, Rt. 12, Plainfield, CT 06374, 860-564-2296 on Wednesday evening from 6-9 pm. A Memorial service will be at the Quinabaug Valley Alliance Church, Rt. 169, Canterbury, CT. on Thursday at 10:00 am with a service at the Griswold Cemetery to follow. A reception will follow at the VFW Hall in Jewett City, CT.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made for the continued support of the ministry Rev. Pat started, Racing with Jesus Ministries.
Cards or donations may be sent to:
Racing With Jesus Ministries
20 Good Win Road,
Canterbury, CT 06331
Rev. Pat Evans at the now closed Riverside Park Speedway (MA) (Leif Tillotson Photo)