25, 2008 --- The Don Davis Memorial will be run for the first time since 1971 with the American Sprint Car Series running on the half mile track and the Arizona Midget Racing Association on the short track Saturday night.
Second generation driver Casey Shuman scored his first ever main event win at Manzy last Saturday night and will be pulling double duty this weekend. He will again be at the wheel of the Rex Foster sprinter and will drive the same midget that he raced in the Chili Bowl.
Second year driver Jeremy Reagles hopes to be leading at the checkered flag after he led the most laps last time out but finished second to Shuman. Josh Pelkey ran strong as did Nathan High.
Two drivers who were disappointed with their finishes, Charles Davis, Jr. (5th) and Jeremy Sherman (6th) hope to get it put together in the first show on the half mile track for the AMSC this year. Sherman is still the points leader but he has company at the top of the standings. He is only four points up on High and R.J. Johnson is ten points out. Only 30 points separate the top 11 drivers.
The AMRA is expecting a competitive field that should have about 18 cars for their second race of the season.
This weekend is "Hot Dog Night" with hotdogs going for only $1.00 both Friday and Saturday night. It is also "Banner Night" with youngsters under 12 able to submit banners of their favorite car and driver. The winner will pick up the big prize and all banners will be displayed on the main concourse.
Factory Stocks, Bombers and Lady Stocks provide the action Friday night with Anthony Madrid seeking his 114th feature win and is favored to make it two in a row in the factory stocks. The Bombers figure to be a wide open affair and Becky Madrid going after her second win.
The Don Davis Memorial will run as a tribute to one of the most successful drivers to ever race at Manzanita Speedway
Davis, fresh out of high school and 18 years old started driving jalopies at Manzy in 1951 shortly after the track opened. He won is first main event on Manzy’s quarter mile track September 29 and won again December, 16. He finished the 1951 season ranked fourth in points. He won three more features in 1952 and then won the driving championship in ‘53 by making 13 trips to the winner’s circle. He won a total of 30 features but raced only part time in ‘55, 56, and 57. His last win came on January 5, 1958.
Donnie landed a ride in the ECCA sprinter owned by Kurt Purvis of Eloy that had propelled Roger McCluskey to the Indy 50 and he added more wins to his total on his way to the 1960 California Racing Association championship. Davis won eight feature races with three of those wins coming on the Manzanita half mile track. He also secured a USAC license and won a USAC race in Clovis, CA.
Davis finished ninth in his first USAC championship car race which was run at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.
He followed Bill Cheesbourg, Wayne Weiler and McCluskey to Indy where he raced twice. He was involved in an accident in 1961 and finished 29th. His star shined brightly in ‘62 as he drove the entire 500 miles and took the checkered flag in fourth. Later that year he died in a sprint car crash in New Breman, OH. His car hade mechanical problems and he secured another ride. Don had one superstition and that was that he would not have his picture taken before a race. However, the owner of the car pleaded with him to get a picture. He finally gave in. A car running just ahead of him blew a tire and the debris hit Davis in the head. He went over the wall and suffered injuries which proved to be fatal.
The Don Davis Memorial started in 1966 and was a 100 lap race on the 1/4 mile track. Johnny Capels led most of the race but with his throw it sideways style of driving a header pipe touched the track. It finally dug in and he spun out. Hall of Fame driver Bob Huebner took the win. The next year it became a two night event with the Friday night race on the 1/4 mile and the Saturday night race on the 1/2. Buddy Taylor won them both. It was back to a Saturday night only and Huebner again won the feature which was 50 laps. It was back to two nights in ‘69 and Gene Brown won on the short track and Bob Cleberg won on the big track. The same format in 1970 had Brown again prevailing on the 14 and Billy Wilkerson taking the half mile show. The final Davis Memorial ran in 1971 and was a 40 lapper on the short track. Brown won for the third time.
Race time each night is set for 7:00 PM
(History and stats from "Thunder in the Desert" by Windy McDonald and "California Hot Shoes" by Buzz Rose.)