Biography - N. Mark Evans
N. Mark Evans, the older of the two 'Evans Brothers' was first introduced into the world of racing by his father, Norm Evans. Going Fast and turning left all started in 1965, at the age of 8 in rural Eastern Washington first just riding snowmobiles, then four years later racing on an oval ice track.
The boat racing story begins at a yacht club on Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington. In1970 Norm Evans, an unlimited hydroplane driver, was participating in a home town pleasure boat race with his oldest son Mark, then 13 yrs old. After the first heat, Norm decided it was time for Mark, even though underage, to drive solo. Much to everyone's surprise, except maybe his dad, Mark won the race.
Mark's first unlimited hydroplane ride came in 1979. Norm paid Bill Wurster $3000 for a boat, motor and trailer and thus the U-10 Evergreen Roofing was ready for the Columbia Cup in Tri-Cities, WA. The boat was affectionately known as the "Green Bomb", not only for it's color, but for the fact that the engine kept blowing up and was never able to qualify for the race.
Evergreen Roofing attempted to qualify again in 1980 with the same results as the year before. Mark was preparing for the 1981 race season when tragedy struck the Evan's family. Norm Evan's was murdered.
For the next five years, Mark hung up the driving gloves and dealt with trying to hold together his dad's marina and construction businesses and wading through the legal issues of both the estate and murder trial. He was only able to keep his hands in the racing arena by sometimes crewing for younger brother Mitch's race teams and assisting Mitch in recruiting sponsors.
By 1985, Mark was ready to pursue his racing career again. He moved to Seattle and worked for teams that were in need of an extra hand, including helping to build the radically designed four point hydroplane that first brought the Ellstrom Family into the sport.
Opportunities to race were few and far between. Evans drove Chuck Hickling's Tempus at the 1988 Seattle and Tri-Cities Races. Mark also drove Brian Keough's dual automotive hydroplane, U9 Miss Sundeck, at the same races in 1989.
By 1990, while Mark was helping to build the infamous two-seat hydroplane owned by Bob Fendler, he finally got the call he was waiting for; Ron Jones Jr. had leased a boat from Steve Woomer and Ron wanted Mark to drive his U-50 American Spirit.
"We Went to the Indiana Governor's Cup in Madison and won the very first Race" said Evans. "Not bad for a couple of goof balls! Steve Woomer said he forgot to tell us not to win". Mark was finally getting to do what he called "serious racing" and continued with the American Spirit Team until the end of the 1992 season.
The 1993 season was the beginning of his racing relationship with Fred Leland and the U-99 hulls. In 1994 the Exide Battery Corporation decided to get back into Hydroplane racing with Mark piloting the U-9 Miss Exide. This was an incredible opportunity for Mark. Despite the very bright outlook, the Exide venture ran into corporate trouble and didn't even make it to the end of the season.
In 1995 it was back to Fred Leland's U-99 Miss KISW team. During that year, Mark's next big break came. The Miss Budweiser driver, Chip Hanauer, was injured during the Detroit Race and the owner, Bernie Little was temporarily in need of a driver. Mark still only had the one win from the American Spirit under his belt but his racing talent was recognized and well known. He was hired to drive the Miss Budweiser at the Evansville and the Madison races. The Ohio River was not kind to Mark and the Miss Budweiser literally fell apart before Mark could get across the finish line in either of the final heats. Mark finished the '95 season at the helm of Leland's U-99 Miss KISW, or better known as the "Rock Boat".
Hanauer was back in the Budweiser for the remainder of 1995. But, after an accident at the second race of the 1996 season in Detroit, he decided it was time to retire (temporarily). Mark again took over the duties for the Miss Budweiser for the remainder of the season and won both the San Diego and Hawaii Races.
In 1997, it was back to Fred Leland's team but this time not in the U-99. Mark was to drive the defending National Champion Pico American Dream for the 1997 and 1998 where he recorded career wins number 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9.
It looked like one of the sport's premiere and most charismatic drivers would be watching from the beach in 1999, but wanting to try something different with their team, the Ellstrom family hired Mark to drive the Miss E-Lam Plus for the West Coast half of the season.
In 2000, Evans won for the Ellstrom Family with the Miss E-Lam at the Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities. It was the Ellstrom's first win in the team's history.
In 2001, Mark decided to try on a different hat and was a dockside commentator for ESPN, covering the unlimited Hydro-Prop Tour. "It was tough being on the other side of the microphone" Mark said, "but then again, it was fun knowing what I know about the sport and using it to the best advantage".
In 2002, Mark combined his years of racing experience and his love of building boats to launch a 4-Seat Hydroplane to give fans the experience of the thrill of riding in a hydroplane. Together with his crew, they turned his famous Seafair "Flip & Win" hull into the "Worlds Fastest Pleasure Boat". The U-4 continues to give a unique hydro experience to fans, geeks and interested passengers and is based in Mark's home town, on Lake Chelan.
In 2003, in Bill Wurster's U-8 Llumar Window Films Mark again won the Columbia Cup at the Tri-Cities, WA. But, after crashing the U-8 at the Gold Cup in September 2003, needed to take off extended time to heal from his injuries and thought perhaps it was the time to retire from his unlimited racing career.
In 2004 Mark worked with Steve Montgomery and Rich Vogan as a commentator for the Speed Channel. While he was a "natural" behind the microphone, he found it hard to be around racing when he was not driving after being involved for so many years.
In 2005 the movie "Madison" staring Jim Caviezel was released. "Madison" was Mark's first real gig as a stunt driver. He spent time filming in Madison, Indiana and Los Angeles.
After 6 years "out of the seat" Mark drove Bob Schellase's GP-12 to two victories in 2009. Winning the San Diego Bay Fair and the Norm Evan's Memorial Race in his hometown of Lake Chelan!
2010 looks like the year of fun! Schellhase Racing has asked Mark to drive again and not only looking forward to winning some heats but hopefully heading to Australia to represent the USA in the World Championship Races.
Mark is now "pretty much" retired from the unlimited Hydro's and living and loving a "not so hectic" schedule of racing to enjoy home and family life. He works buying, building, repairing and selling vintage cars, trucks and boats and calls himself an "outside dog" and loves to dig in the dirt. Any spare time is spent playing and working outside digging, building and developing property. Mark has been "living the dream" taking fans and tourists for rides in his outboard powered Unlimited Hydro Plane.
Evans also has written a book called "Dancing with Disaster" about growing up a racer in a small town and dealing with troubled times like the murder of his father and all the crazy fun antics of a guy with energy! He has so many stories and the first book is such a hit that another book is in the works!
Go Fast - Turn Left