Art Evans, 1934-2021

We pause to give some sad recognition to a guy who really cared about the history of road racing in the United States, and especially during its glorious formative years in Southern California. Art Evans was the founding presence who established the Fabulous Fifties non-group, as he liked to call it, of worthies who took part in the great California sports car boom that roared into existence during the 1950s. Art, who passed on last week, lived the era as few others did. Before he got into research and publishing, Art and his dad allied with Bill Devin to create and market Devin’s line of sports car kits, which launched the careers of numerous star drivers. A West Point graduate, Art began racing his MG in 1955 against the likes of Phil Hill, Ken Miles and even James Dean, during the latter’s brief racing career and even briefer lifetime.

Art teamed with California sports car icons Johnny Von Neumann and Vasek Polak to organize an early Southern California vintage festival for historic racing cars, and their drivers, at Palm Springs in 1985. His enduring legacy, however, will be as a journalist and historian, which is how I got to know the guy during my Hemmings stint. His 2001 book, Fabulous Fifties, illustrated by his own photography, was a person recounting of the people who brought road racing to life in California. Art continued to write throughout his life, one of his final titles being a respected, and necessary, review of the contributions that World War II veterans provided to American motorsport. Art was a good guy who genuinely cared about the world he introduced to the masses through his journalism, and he will be missed.

One thought on “Art Evans, 1934-2021

  1. A great loss, but a great life that we should all subscribe to.

    Art’s enthusiasm for motorsports when the “sport” part really mattered was something that all of us marveled at and admired. His gift to the sport was his unbending celebration of those days and the people (himself included) that truly made the ’50s as fabulous as they were.

    His contributions to the history of West Coast sports car racing are his legacy. For me (smart-ass that I’ve always been) some of the mock set-to’s that we had over the years were far more fun (and informative) than the polite, metered conversations I had with others who remembered the era.

    He did the movement good.

    Please give the family my condolences and thanks for letting us have the guy.

    Proud Non-Member: Doug Stokes


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