Evan Knoll, former owner of Torco Racing Fuels, has pleaded guilty to a total of nine charges that include eight counts of making a false claim against the government and one count of bank fraud. When the sentence is handed down it could mean up to 30 years in jail for Knoll and having to pay $100 million in restitution. Knoll has admitted that he created false documents that showed Torco sold high quantities of tax-exempt fuel for off-road purposes. Those records were then filed with the IRS to request refunds for fuel taxes that were supposedly previously paid.
Knoll first gained notoriety as an NHRA racer where he eventually worked his way to the Top Alcohol ranks before an accident behind the wheel of his street car brought and end to his driving career. From there, Knoll made a name for himself sponsoring high profile teams, first in lower tier ranks of Top Alcohol and Pro Modified. Teams carrying the banner included Marty Thacker, Dave Hirata, Mike Ashley and Matt Hagan, when Hagan competed in Pro Modified. Torco later soared entered several major and/or associate sponsorship agreements in the pinnacle of the sport, the Top Fuel and Funny Car divisions. Among them were Melanie Troxel, J.R. Todd, Ashley, Dale Creasy, Gary Densham, T.J. Zizzo, Dave Connolly in Pro Stock, and a long list of other professional and sportsman racers.
Torco, an entity of Knoll Gas, also joined with the title IHRA to sponsor multiple classes, including Pro Modified, in the years leading up to the demise of the category within the series. The NHRA also held a national event title sponsored by Torco Racing Fuels.
The trial against Knoll has continued for an extensive period after he underwent serious psychological tests to determine if he had a mental disability. The psychological tests were found to be in the range of a person suffering a mental disability, but the courts found that it was likely he was intentionally lowering his score. Knoll is currently free and awaiting a sentencing in November.