S. Burlington Monday, June 22nd
Evan Alvanos always loved cars.
"He loved the roar of an engine.", says Sarah Alvanos, Evan's wife. "He loved everything about cars. We had to go to the car shows, you'd hear an engine and he would be looking for it."
Alvanos passed away in April after an illness caused by Covid-19. He was just twenty days shy of his 40th birthday. Evan spent close to two decades as an integral part of his family's businesses, first The Parkway Diner in South Burlington, then the Park Street Deli in Burlington and, since 2013, as the driving force behind The Guilty Plate Diner in Colchester.
"He was always a positive person and he was always someone who, no matter what adversity was thrown at him, he always persevered and he didn't get down.", says Sarah.
"Through the years, you get to know a lot of people and Evan had a reach that was far beyond just our little restaurant.", adds Evan's brother Michael Alvanos.
Tony Bove was one of those people. A childhood friend of the family who went to Burlington High School with Evan, Bove is the engine tuner on the Hendrick Motorsports #9 Car driven by Chase Elliot on the NASCAR Cup circuit.
With the help of the Hendrick public relations department, Bove was able to have a memorial photo of Evan placed on the #9 car for a recent Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.
"Their family and our family and basically everyone in the neighborhood were all very close.", says Tony. "Burlington, Vermont is a small place. I just thought it would be a cool thing to do."
"Evan really thought a lot of him (Tony) because he knows how much work goes into something to be at that level.", says Sarah. "So it was just really heartwarming for me when Tony contacted me and wanted to do something for him. It really was touching."
That day, Elliot had one of the best cars in the field, and held the lead for much of the race.
"He would've loved it. He would have been beaming and so proud and so honored to be there. My kids and I watched that and my kids said, 'That's our dad on TV'".
In the final laps, Elliot was going for the lead, but, while attempting to pass the leader, Joey Logano, Elliot made contact with Logano and both cars went into the wall, knocking them out of contention. Even though the day ended shy of victory lane, Sarah says that moment was still perfect.
"My daughter at first said, 'Oh man, it was so close.' And I said, 'You know what? Your dad would've totally done that move'", says Sarah.
"Sarah said to me that the move Chase made at the end, trying to get the lead back, was something Evan would do. So that meant a lot.", says Tony. "'Go big or go home', that's what she said."
And the memories made that day have helped provide the fuel as the Alvanos family begins the process of moving forward, with Evan always in their hearts.
"That weekend I could talk to people, I could message people, I could FaceTime people and we were all rooting for one thing. And it definitely brought us together.", says Sarah.
"So what Tony did was sort of supply us with a lot of air in our sails, to try to get the boat to lean forward again and get going.", adds Michael. "It was good for us, really good for us."