Q and A With... Johnny Davis
Photo by Paul Strickland Jr. / TheRacingExperts.Com
The JD Motorsports No. 01 car at New Hampshire this past weekend. Johnny Davis, owner
of the No. 01 car opens up about his team and running in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
By Dominic Aragon
TheRacingExperts.Com: You have been an owner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series since 2002. How did your journey to ownership begin?
Johnny Davis: “My journey started in 81, it was the Sportsman Series and I built some cars because I wanted to go racing… I had those Sportsman cars for years then I went to work for a team and went through some family issues and needed to be home raising my kids. Did that, then I started a go-kart business—I built and manufactured go-karts for many years, then got back into the NASCAR world, which is where I’ve been for a while, it’s all I know to do, really.”
TheRacingExperts.Com: Right off the bat, your first start produced a top-5 finish with Tim Fedewa. Describe the feeling to debut with such a strong finish.
Johnny Davis: “Well, I can’t really take all the credit for that. That was Fred Biagi’s car. I know on the record book it looks like it was a good deal for me, but being honest, that was [his] car and they ran my number that race.”
TheRacingExperts.Com: Your son drove many races for your race team, and when he scored a top-10 at Talladega in 2005. What was the first thing you told him after the race?
Johnny Davis: “He told me ‘dad, I told you we could do this, we just need to find the right amount of money to buy all the right parts.’ We spent the most money that year to try to run good, and it showed.”
TheRacingExperts.Com: Your team has shown muscle and has gambled on the race track from time to time. What was the feeling like at the 2010 Kansas race where Mike almost pulled off an upset win?
Johnny Davis: “We had a decent car, we didn’t have a car that was going to win a race without proper strategy, and luckily we pitted there and we gas and go the whole way, and everybody else didn’t pit, and it wound up biting them. But fortunate for them, and unfortunate for us, they had a caution there with just a few laps to go. We had no option but to come down pit road and put on tires and gas. But we had a decent finish (12th).”
TheRacingExperts.Com: Last year, Hollywood movie Cowboys and Aliens sponsored your car during the summer months. How did that deal come together?
Johnny Davis: “We have an in-house marketing department. Tony Priscaro is vice-president of sales and marketing for our race team. He actually co-called them and he had an idea to do something, he sold them on the idea and it worked. They made it work and they were very pleased. Unfortunately they haven’t had anything they want to market within that realm with us in motorsports. We stay in touch with them.
“We are a small race team, but were not to be taken for granted. We’re here for the long haul, we’re here to try to make this thing a Richard Childress type or a Hendrick type of organization at some point in time. The people that are here believe in me and [driver] Mike [Wallace].”
Fast forwarding to this year, the team
has had sponsorship for every race. How is funding looking down the road?
Johnny Davis: “Still plenty of sponsorship opportunities. We’re searching every day, Tony’s searching trying to find marketing partners, Mike’s searching, we hired another guy fresh out of college [who started Monday]. We have nothing sold right now but the Indy race, everything else is open.”
TheRacingExperts.Com: What is a typical week like for you as you prepare for the race weekend?
Johnny Davis: “Too many hours. The No.4 car deal is maintained out of our shop also. We bought into Rusty Wallace [Inc.] at the beginning of the year. We have not enough employees to do one team, we’re doing two. Everybody I’ve got here puts a lot of hours in. I can’t do this without the dedication of all these people.”
TheRacingExperts.Com: As of right now, what races are you most looking forward to on the schedule?
Johnny Davis: “We look forward to all of them because we’re racing, but we have high expectations for Indy, we have some people that have come on board, Barry Smith from Smith Transport, and Mr. Willard at Willard Asphalt out of Lebanon, Missouri came on board to help us at Daytona and Indy, and they leased us an engine from RCR for those two events. ”
TheRacingExperts.Com: What is the likelihood of seeing you field a Cup car?
Johnny Davis: “I’m a racer, I’m not a person that would ever want to start and park. I would love to go the Cup level and race in that garage, but I only want to do it if I can do it properly. I don’t feel like we can attract the money [to go Cup racing at this time]. I don’t ever want to do a start and park effort in the Cup garage.”