Jon Evans — Inaugural Hall of Fame Member
Jon’s interest in motor sport originated through his father, who was incredibly passion
ate about it. “From the time I was in a pram, I was going to race meetings – Speedway at Tracey’s on a Saturday night, then school holidays anywhere on the East Coast with the Tasman Series, camping at Bathurst. He would just take me everywhere.”
The transition from race fan to journalist took place when he started as Editor of the Victorian Super Mini Series. Few people took notice, however then editor of Auto Action, Paul Harrington, handed over his media pass to Jon, went to visit friends in Monterey, and asked Jon to the write the race report on the Long Beach Grand Prix in 1976.
Jon then decided to leave the banking industry to follow his passion, but Jon noted some of those skills carried over “particularly the project management and planning – they have been my strength over the years”.
Jon recalled some of his early years working at Auto Action and the differences in how you would get your stories published. “Back in the good ol’ days, you just had a manual typewriter and pounded out a story in a Sunday night to post it away, or alternatively you’d go into Auto Action and type it directly in to the computer system – the old monochrome screen – it was quite a lengthy process in those days. I used to joke that it took ages to receive a small remuneration because you would want it instantly, and I don’t think things have changed in that respect.”
Along with Auto Action staffers, Michelle Jordison, Alan Edwards and Neville Wilkinson, Jon resolved to start his own Motor Sport Magazine. “We all had a similar dissatisfaction with the direction that the publication was going. We believed it wasn’t giving the audience what they wanted, and over a dinner one night, we decided to do something about it. Our impatience (Evans and Jordison) got the better of us and we started Oval Express, then Neville started V8X, and Alan got Motor Sport Legends going.”
Interestingly, before all going their own ways, Jon had been destined to become the Editor of Auto Action. “All we had to agree upon was a salary”. However in a twist of fate, Jon smashed up his legs and spent 7 or 8 months recuperating. During that time, Auto Action was sold and the new company decided to relocate. “When they moved it to Sydney, they put their own staff in, so I wouldn’t have lasted very long if I took the job of Editor of Auto Action” Evans joked.
Evans had always been a person to actively mentor the new journalist, particularly in Speedway circles and at Auto Action, introducing them to the officials and team members “One of my bug bears is that journalists don’t walk the beat enough, and meet and greet and get to know people behind the scenes. I try to explain to them that you don’t just get stories from the internet or social media, you have to go out and source them yourself – building up that mutual trust and respect.”
Certainly, there are few in pit lane that didn’t respect and trust that when they told Jon something on or off the record he would not misrepresent them or himself. The choice of the members of the V8MA to select him as one of the five inaugural inductees to the Hall of Fame shows that the same level of respect was shared by his peers.