He can put you behind any wheel | NevadaAppeal.com

He can put you behind any wheel

Roger Diez

Have you ever been stricken with the fantasy that you could be a NASCAR driver? There’s a company right here in northern Nevada that could help you fulfill that dream. No, they’re not going to magically turn you into Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Tony Stewart, but they can put you together with a car that your favorite driver once raced.

I met Richard Davis of Davis Motorsports a couple of weeks ago in downtown Reno, where he had a stock car on display. We struck up a conversation and he invited me to his facility in Golden Valley, and last week I was able to visit him there.

Davis has been in the racing business for 42 years, and moved from San Jose, Calif., to Reno in late 2000. He started out working with his father, who had a BMW motorcycle dealership in San Jose, with a race car parts sideline. After Davis took over the operation, the race car parts side of the business flourished. Currently he stocks and sells race car parts, safety gear, and equipment, from springs to jacks to HANS devices and everything in between. Ninety-five percent of his business is done outside Nevada via the Internet, with 75 percent of that east of the Mississippi.

It was through his contacts with race teams, car owners, sponsors and drivers that Davis began dabbling in used race cars.

“It was really my late wife Sandy’s project, and after she passed away two years ago, I put more effort into it and it took off,” said Davis.

He even acquired a 48-foot hauler to transport the cars. The nice thing about the old NASCAR cars is that they are strong, well-built, relatively simple to maintain, and not all that expensive. Davis told me that he could put a car in someone’s hands for as little as $10,000, or in excess of $100,000, depending on the use. A car to be used as a show car would be at the lower end of the scale, whereas a car that someone actually wanted to race would be more expensive. There is a growing group of organizations that accept retired NASCAR stock cars for vintage racing, as evidenced by the group that ran at the Reno Historic races at Reno-Fernley Raceway two weeks ago. Davis says he restores cars for that type of vintage racing, but recommends using a crate engine with 400-500 horsepower rather than a full-race 700 horsepower version.

Yes, you can drive a car that Rusty Wallace once raced, but odds are you don’t quite have ol’ Rusty’s skills, so a little less horsepower will keep you out of trouble.

Through his contacts, Davis can find the exact car a customer wants . . . for instance, if you just have to have a 1993 Dale Earnhardt No. 3 Chevy in authentic Mr. Goodwrench paint and decals, he can come up with one and prepare it to your specifications; show car, restoration, driving school, vintage racing, whatever. Just be prepared to pay the price. When I visited last week, he had an ex-Terry Labonte No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy being prepared for a customer, and a No. 27 McDonald’s Ford Thunderbird last driven by Jimmy Spencer.

One of the things that I discussed with Davis was the fact that literally hundreds of Nextel Cup cars will be available in the next year or two as NASCAR phases in the Car of Tomorrow. Of course, ARCA and some other feeder series will absorb some of these, but if you want to pick up a race car reasonably cheap, you’re in good shape.

Another thing I discovered visiting the Davis Motorsports shop was that there used to be a race track right near his property in Golden Valley. He had some old photos from the early to mid 1960’s showing USAC cars racing at Lemmon Valley Speedway. Racing legends like A.J. Foyt and J.C. Agajanian were racing in Reno forty years ago. You learn something new every day.

If you want more information on retired NASCAR stock cars, check out http://www.nascarcars4sale.com/, and for information on the wide variety of racecar parts, tools, and safety equipment Davis Motorsports provides, go to http://www.goracin.com.