Series spotlight - Bill Evans

Pro Fuel's master of disaster Bill Evans relives terrifying ride, looking forward to setting records at MIR NORWALK, Ohio (August 20, 2010) -- At no point during Bill Evans' wild opening round pass against Mike Manners at the Northern Nitro ...

Pro Fuel's master of disaster Bill Evans relives terrifying ride, looking forward to setting records at MIR

NORWALK, Ohio (August 20, 2010) -- At no point during Bill Evans' wild opening round pass against Mike Manners at the Northern Nitro Jam earlier this month did he realize just how bad things could have been.

Evans knew he was in trouble and he certainly knew that the car didn't stay on four wheels, but as far as how bad it could have been, the thought never really crossed his mind.

"Honestly it didn't feel that bad in the car. I knew I was up on two wheels, I knew the car was out of shape, but I didn't know just how bad it was," Evans said.

But once he got back to his pit area and saw the dozens of photos and videos shot by local fans and his crew, Evans admits that his heart sank just a bit knowing how lucky he was to avoid any significant damage and walk away unharmed.

"When I looked at the video it didn't feel as bad as it looked," Evans said. "Honestly it happened so fast. Even when I got to the other end and got out I didn't think about it, no big deal really. Once I got to the pits, though, I found out just how spectacular it really was. Everyone said they couldn't believe I didn't flip it and when I saw the video I realized I almost rolled that thing."

Evans' wild ride took place during the opening round of the Northern Nitro Jam last week at Michigan's fastest track, U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin. Evans came off the line like any other run, but shortly after takeoff he lost traction and began to smoke the tires.

Within an instant Evans realized that his opponent, Mike Manners, was also having trouble and without giving it another thought Evans got back in the throttle and that is when things began to go terribly wrong.

Moments after hitting the throttle the car shot to the left and when Evans tried to correct it the car went up on two wheels, taking out the sensor at 660 feet and continuing to ride on just its left two wheels for a few seconds. When the car finally slammed back to the ground Evans said he accidentally hit the throttle again, launching the car toward the wall on his right side.

After a second save Evans said he had a moment to assess the situation and still did not see Manners, so he stabbed the throttle a third time sending the car on a wild ride to the finish and nearly scraping the wall again as he crossed the finish line.

All that and he still crossed the line first. However when he took out the sensor at halftrack he crossed the center line and Manners was awarded the opening round win.

"When I left the starting line I never saw Manners until the parachutes were out. When I left it smoked right away and I didn't see him so I thought he had the same problem, so I pedaled it. That is when the car basically left the ground," Evans said. "When it went up I had my arms crossed so when the car came down the car wasn't lined up. Plus I accidentally hit the accelerator again when I didn't mean to.

"When I finally came out of that mess I still didn't see him so I straightened it out as best as I could and went for it."

While the run was certainly terrifying for his crew, the standing ovation he received from the crowd in the losing effort was enough motivation to let him know that he made the right decision in keeping after it.

"Why not keep going and give it a try? I thought hey, they (the crowd) have to be loving it so why not give it my all," Evans said. "We are here to put on a show. We are here to race, yes, and of course go for the win, but we are also showman and that is what makes racing out here so much fun."

Even more fascinating is that less than two hours after making that run Evans returned for the consolation round and put on a show of a different kind, barreling down the track for the second quickest E.T. of the weekend at 5.359 seconds at nearly 250 miles-per-hour.

"We went up next round and we knocked on the door of the record. The reaction time was good and the run was good so clearly it didn't bother me that much," Evans said. "I mean it makes you think when something like that happens, but at the end of the day if you aren't comfortable in the car then you don't need to be out their racing."

Evans also unveiled his newest toy during his thrilling Friday debut at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park, a replica pirate flag flown on the back of his "Black Pearl" machine during each burnout.

Evans says that his crew came up with the idea to have a pirate flag on the back of the dragster to have a little fun and display their "take no prisoners" attitude. He also says that the crew has a little extra surprise when he returns to a final later this year.

"We want to run the car hard and we want to have a good performance, but we also want to have something the fans can take out of each run to make our passes more exciting," Evans said. "We added the flag because we thought it would be fun and different. To make it even more exciting the crew actually has two flags, one for regular runs and one only to be flown during the finals. We figure every final is special so why not make it fun for us and for the fans."

And Evans doesn't plan on waiting long to unveil the second flag as he hopes to make a statement at the upcoming Maryland Nitro Jam August 28-29 at Maryland International Raceway. Evans is in the thick of the Pro Fuel championship chase with Jeff Hamelink and Mike Manners and hopes that Maryland will be the springboard to launch him to the inaugural title.

Plus, Evans says, the Maryland track is the perfect place for him to reestablish himself as the fastest Pro Fuel car in the world.

"Obviously my plan is to go to Maryland and double-up again. Also, we are going there with the plan to reset the record and take the points lead," Evans said. "I know that sounds like a busy weekend, but I know we can do it. We have been the quickest car at nearly every event this year and if we can string together a few runs at Maryland I see no reason why we can't dominate the weekend."

-source: ihra

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