story submitted by Lief Tilton
For Louis and Lisa Hallstrom and their sons Evan (driver) and Wil (crew member) racing is in their blood. Literally.
Louis is the nephew of legendary racer Norm Andrews and Lisa is the niece of legendary racer Clem Despault. “Louie began on my uncle’s race team as a crew member at the age of 13” says Lisa. “We actually met at Clem’s junkyard and that’s how we got to know each other. I had always gone to the races (back then it was Thunder Road and Catamount) and when Louis and I started dating we followed the racing circuit from Sanair to Catamount to Thunder Road.”
After spending years watching and helping others race, Louis and Lisa decided that they wanted to field their own team. “Louis began building our first car in 2007” Lisa says. “We started racing at Thunder Road and on the American Canadian Tour in 2008 with Tony Andrews.”
Hallstrom Motorsports enjoyed multiple wins in their first year competing, a major accomplishment for any team and especially a new one.
Andrews continued to drive for the team through the middle of the 2010 season, when Brett Wheeler took over driving duties for the next 3.5 seasons. Wheeler grabbed the checkers three times while with The Hallstroms and also had top 10 Thunder Road points finishes.
2014 saw 3-time champion and 14-time winner Flying Tiger driver Shawn Fleury move up to Late Models for Hallstrom Motorsports, winning two races and finishing 3rd in points in his first year with the team.
Fleury continued in the car during the 2015 season before Connecticut’s Devin O’Connell put his name above the driver’s door for the 2016 season.
O’Connell became the first driver to race for Hallstrom Motorsports as part of their Driver Development Program, designed to put young drivers behind the wheel in hopes of giving them experience to move up through the ranks to other racing series.
O’Connell was the 2016 American Canadian Tour Rookie of the Year before moving on to other racing series beginning in 2017.
In 2016 The Hallstroms also purchased a PASS (Pro All Star Series) Super Late Model car and tested it with Jeremy Davis of Davis Chassis Works.
After 9 seasons and 4 different drivers, Hallstrom Motorsports was finally able to put one of their own in the driver’s seat beginning with the 2017 season.
15-year old Evan Hallstrom, a 2016 multi-time Dare Devil winner and top 3 points finisher in his rookie year at Speedway 51 in New Hampshire made the leap to the heavier, faster Late Models starting this season.
Deemed too young to race at Thunder Road, Evan has instead raced at Devil’s Bowl in Fair Haven and Speedway 51 in New Hampshire. In just a handful of races this season Evan has finished as high as 2nd at Devils Bowl and has only top 10 finishes between his Devil’s Bowl and Speedway 51 races.
Like his parents, Evan has been around racing from a very young age. “Evan became involved at the age of 4-5 in the garage with his Dad” says Evan’s mother Lisa. “At the age of 13 he built and drove his first Dare Devil. He totaled that car in a practice session at Speedway 51 before the season started. That put him out for the 2015 season. Before that he was involved with R/C cars at Barre’s R/C track. Then Evan got involved in iRacing (“authentic online racing”) and he continues to iRace daily.”
Having one of their own in the driver’s seat has drawn The Hallstroms even closer together as a family. “The family involvement is everyone is all in” says family matriarch Lisa. “Louis and I have been involved in racing our whole lives and when we had the boys racing became a part of their life from helping in the shop, loading the trailer, going to the track, shopping for the team, etc. You name it and they have done it and still do. Evan builds the cars right along with his Dad.”
“Evan’s brother, Wil, is in college, but when he’s home and before he went to school he was/is involved in helping the team out as well” says Lisa. “He does a lot of the social media things, loading the trailer, etc.”
With his son as the driver, Louie Hallstrom has to take a different approach than he has in the past with his other drivers. “The biggest challenge is keeping myself calm” he says. “I don’t want to be that parent that says you’ve got to win, you’ve got to win, you’ve got to win so I stay off of the radio. I give him support in other ways and have surrounded him with a good team.”
The Hallstrom’s family business, Hallstrom Excavating, gives the team support. It also gave Evan a training ground on driving. “Evan has been helping in the business for years” says Lisa. “Although he is not old enough to drive on the road by himself, he can drive our Kenworth dump truck, our Peterbilt tractor, and all of the equipment including the excavator, bulldozer, skid-steer and plow trucks.”
Besides Hallstrom Excavating, it takes many other business and individuals to make the operation successful. “Randolph Auto Supply, Depot Square Pizzeria, ARbodies, Swift Springs, Design Engineering, Inc., Classic Ventures, Tri Star Racewear & Scotty B’s Trucking all help with the bills” says Lisa. “Hank Lavanway also has been a big help financially in both the Late Model and PASS cars. The sponsors are an integral part of our ability to make it to the track each week. They help out financially as well as with parts and supplies.”
Evan’s contributions go even beyond being a driver and crew member. “Evan is very active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat” says Lisa. “He has been working to attract marketing partners. He also has been involved in giving back to his community. He previously has raised money for Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a camp for kids with cancer. When he got his permit he approached The Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Program and now represents GHSP and Vermont Highway Safety Alliance traveling around the state promoting teen safe driving, the Click It Or Ticket initiative and distracted driving. He has attended a safety fair with his Late Model at Mount Abraham High School in Bristol, he’s been on the radio promoting teen safe driving, he was at Thunder Road with his Late Model speaking to kids/teens about driving safety and buckling up, and he attended the Ford Drive Safe for Life driving school. He has several other appearances scheduled throughout the summer and fall.”
Along with all of the work and the challenges there is also a lot of enjoyment with having a family member finally racing their car. “It has been a joy this year watching Evan on the track” says Lisa. “He has done so well and been smooth, fast and respectful. It has been great seeing veteran drivers and past champions approach Evan after racing him on the track, shaking his hand and telling him what a good job he did and how much respect he gained from them by racing them clean. Another joy has been watching him come from the rear in his heats and features since his father won’t let Evan take his handicap and wants him to learn to drive through traffic cleanly.”
A solid team consisting of Troy Wheeler as crew chief; Scott Guyette as tire specialist, Logan Powers as spotter and Steve Grandfield, Cameron Powers, Hank Lavanway and Wil Hallstrom as crew members is behind Evan, with his Dad, Louis, as car builder, head mechanic and fabricator. “He’s also the chief motivating officer and the glue that keeps the team together” says Lisa, discounting her own role in those capacities. “There are also other people beyond the team that have been helpful” she adds. “Joey Laquerre, owner of Speedway 51, provides track time for our Driver Development Program as well as giving Evan an opportunity to drive at a young age. Same goes for Mike Bruno with Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Jeff Taylor from Distance Chassis creates the ACT chassis and Jeremy Davis of Davis Chassis Works creates the PASS chassis. Annamarie Malfitana-Strawhand from Marketing at Full Speed.”
“The long-range plan is more seat time” says Lisa. “This fall Evan will be testing in the PASS car. The car was rebuilt over the winter and so far in 2017 Jeremy Davis has driven in 3 PASS races getting the car ready and dialed-in. For 2018, when Evan is 16, we want him to be in a touring series with the Late Model and also run some PASS races. The eventual goal is to get him into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and then see if he goes on from there.”
With a solid, family-run team behind him and a good head on his shoulders (with and without a helmet) young Evan Hallstrom is on his way to even bigger racing success.