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Drivers Profile: Evan Lingle

By David Lingle

Evan was a born mechanic like his older brother Melvin, so he had a role model from the start. Fords were his favorite, starting with the model T's. When Evan was 18, he went off to serve in WWII. When he returned he went to work for the Montana State Highway. Later, he went to work for Berg Ford Motor in Circle, MT. There he had the opportunity to do what he really enjoyed, working on cars.

Berg Motors sponsored him in the first Montana 500 race in 1961. He took first place. Evan with the help of his son John, took a 1922 touring, cut the back off, put on two coats of black paint and called her good. "Pretty doesn't win races" Evan was heard to say. He was a terrific, but fair competitor. Many of the other drivers teased him (good naturedly) about the T using more oil than gas. It used 23 quarts of oil. At one point in the race, a Montana Highway Patrol officer clocked him at 72 miles per hour (this is according to my mother Ruby Lingle). He was featured on the cover of Hemmings Motor News shortly after the race.

He entered several shorter races around Montana, many of them sponsored by the VFW of Jordan, MT. I remember when he borrowed my dad's (Melvin Lingle) T for the 1972 Montana 500. Over the years he received many trophies, which his daughter, LaWanna of Billings MT. still cherishes. He donated the last T he restored to the museum in Circle, MT. Evan passed away November 15, 1993.


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