(born August 26, 1957 in Hazlet, New Jersey
) is currently a NASCAR
team owner for Gillett Evernham Motorsports
with drivers Kasey Kahne
, Patrick Carpentier
and Elliott Sadler
as well as development driver Kevin Swindell
. In 1999, Evernham won the NASCAR Winston Cup Illustrated “Person of the Year”.
Evernham was a modified
racer. When he was 26 years old, he was hired by the International Race of Champions
(IROC) as a chassis specialist. Drivers were impressed that he could translate what they were saying about the car's handling into technological adjustments.
He crashed at Flemington in the middle of 2001 season. He damaged his brain stem, which left depth perception impairment. He said, "When you wreck that bad, you don't remember anything about it." As a driver, he added, "I couldn't meet my own expectations, and that frustrated the hell out of me."
Evernham started working for NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki
at the end of 1991. Their personalities clashed, and Evernham stayed with Kulwicki for six weeks before quitting at Daytona
. As he was walking out of the garage area and NASCAR, Ford
engineers Lee Morse and Preston Miller stopped him. They had worked directly with the Ford teams, including Kulwicki's, and they were impressed with Evernham. They suggested that Ford might find Evernham another assignment outside of NASCAR's top division (Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup
). Jeff Gordon
had just become a Ford driver and he had mentioned that he would like to work with Evernham again. The two had worked briefly together in 1990, when Evernham had worked on some chassis setups for Gordon's Pontiac
team. Evernham thought back to that brief time with Gordon, remembering, "From the first day we ever worked together, boom! We hit it off. We had fun, we did good, he was what I wanted, and I was what he wanted." Gordon's owner, Bill Davis Racing
, didn't want to hire Evernham for their NASCAR Busch Series
team. "Bill Davis didn't want me," Evernham later recalled. "But Ford paid my salary to go and work for Bill Davis, because Jeff wanted me there so bad."
Evernham remained the crew chief for Gordon after he moved up into the Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) from the final race of the 1992 season to 1999. Gordon and Evernham won 47 Cup races, 3 Cup championships (1995, 1997, and 1998) and were the dominant team in NASCAR Cup competition at the time.
Then, Evernham left Hendrick Motorsports
and Gordon/Evernham Motorsports
in 1999 to form his own team Evernham Motorsports
. The team would also be the cornerstone for Dodge
's return to Winston Cup
racing in 2001.
Revival of Dodge
Founded in 1999, Evernham Motorsports was created to lead Dodge back into prominence in NASCAR’s elite racing series and field two competitive teams. Today, with the backing of nearly 3,000 Dodge Dealers and the Chrysler Group’s performance brand Dodge, Evernham is fielding cars in the NEXTEL Cup Series, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck Series, as well as in the ARCA, USAC and Dodge Weekly Racing series. Before the 2001 Winston Cup
season, a Dodge had not raced in the series since Phil Good at the Pocono Raceway
in June 1985. Evernham led Dodge's return to NASCAR
by fielding two full-time cars in the 2001 season. Bill Elliott
was named to drive the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge on March 10, 2000. The driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge was announced to be Casey Atwood
In 2002, Jeremy Mayfield was added to Evernham's program, taking over the No. 19 Dodge from Atwood. In 2002, Evernham found success with his new program by witnessing Mayfield win the Winston Open, as well as Bill Elliott winning the Pennsylvania 500. The following race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was also won by Bill Elliott.
In 2006, Jeremy Mayfield was fired for "lack of performance" and for comments deterimental to the team. In August 2006 Elliott Sadler was announced as the new driver of the 19 car.
During the 2006 season, former Evernham driver Jeremy Mayfield
was fired from the #19 car for 'lack of performance,' as stated by the Evernham team. Court documents reveal that Mayfield blames Evernham's personal life, included a claim that a "close personal relationship" had developed between the then-married Evernham and development driver Erin Crocker
, and "sub-par" equipment as the reasons he has not won a race in 2006.
Evernham recently admitted that he has an ongoing relationship with Crocker. Furthermore, he said about Crocker "The proper thing to do and something her and I would like to do is move her to another race team."
Evernham is also known for having been penalized with the 2nd largest fine in the history of NASCAR. The fine was for $60,000 and was imposed for using unapproved suspension parts on Jeff Gordon's car in May, 1995. It was originally the largest fine in NASCAR history, until being eclipsed by Michael Waltrip Racing.