BOB EVANS: A MISSED TALENT
In an age of explosive and tragic British talents which yielded James Hunt,Tony Brise andTom Pryce, Bob Evans was unlucky not to make the highest echelon of motorsport
Evans won the 1974 F5000 title before going on to drive for BRM, Lotus and a private Brabham in FI.Team boss Alan McKechnie, the man who gave Nigel Mansell his break in Formula Ford, won’t be drawn about who he rated more highly, but it’s clear where his sympathies lie.”We got on very well with Bob. I was surprised it didn’t work out for him, but he didn’t exactly choose wonderful F I teams!” But Evans has no regrets that he didn’t make it to Fl stardom. “Fl opportunities were so limited in those days,” he says.”Plenty of people were happy to pay to get in,so Brits always ended up in a BRM:’ That P201 ,which Evans drove in I 975,was a disaster. But he impressed many, especially with a stunning qualifying performance at Monza to get onto the 10th row. “The actual car was designed by Mike Pilbeam and was pretty good:’ he remembers,”it was just that by 75 it was using the same engine as Pedro Rodriguez had in 1968.1t was a lovely engine that revved beautifully, but it didn’t have the grunt” The eccentric team leadership of Louis Stanley didn’t go down well either. Evans was reunited this summer at Silverstone’s Coy’s Festival with fellow BRM old boys: “Everybody stood up and was totally rude about the cars,which was quite right About
time somebody told him [Stanley] the truth, but he wouldn’t have listened anyway.”
A short stint with Lotus in early ’76 didn’t lead anywhere, although Evans tested the Lotus 80 as late as 1979.”Unbeknown to me they’d done a deal with Andretti and were only looking for a fill-in.”
Then there was to be a brief association with theTechspeedThundersports squad in the mid-’80s and he now hankers after a comeback in the Thoroughbred Grand Prix series. There’s no doubt that Evans could have stayed in Fl for years if he’d got the breaks, but he doesn’t dwell on it.
“Maybe if I’d come along at the same time as Nigel the same thing would have happened to me, but on the other hand I could be dead like Ronnie [PetersonlYou can’t look back with regrets — I don’t have any at all. 1 had a wonderful time.”