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Full Throttle: The Loss of Harry Davis a Huge Loss for NASCAR’s Diversity Movement

On January 21st, NASCAR lost a very dedicated man when Harry Davis passed away. Harry was the father of Marc Davis, a one-time developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing who has gone on his own to try and make it into the big leagues of stock car racing. Harry put everything he had into helping his son make it to the national levels of racing and was there until the very end making whatever he could available to his son and his team. The sport lost a true gentleman when Harry took his last breath.

Marc was a development driver in the Joe Gibbs development program in 2006 but lost that ride eventually when sponsorship dried up. Undeterred, the Davis family forged ahead on their own with Marc Davis Motorsports, which actually began when Marc was only 15 years old. The organization has run on a shoestring budget and fielded efforts for Marc in both the Truck and Nationwide series. Davis made his Nationwide debut as a driver/owner at Bristol in March of 2009.

Harry was a camera man for NBC who put his life savings into making Marc’s career a success. Anyone who ever met him knew that he loved his son and would do anything he could to make Marc a successful racecar driver. Harry never spoke of Marc as a minority or diversity driver. He simply wanted him to be a great driver. In the end, Marc’s drive and entrepreneurial spirit have resulted in a motorsports organization that fields cars in multiple levels of racing, offering rides to drivers who are trying to come up the same way he did.

Just this January, one week after the passing of Harry, Marc and his teammate Tiffany Daniels raced in an ASA race in South Africa, finishing third and seventh respectively while making motorsports history by placing two minority drivers in the top 10 of a major stock car race. There is no doubt Harry was smiling down at the success of his son.

With the announcement this week of this year’s Drive for Diversity class, it is interesting to see that the program has not yielded a single driver who has made it into a full-time ride in one of the three national touring series of NASCAR. Davis is the closest that any member of a D4D class has made it, but his success has come through the sacrifices of his father and family. While the program is giving people the opportunity to get exposure in developmental series, it is not doing anything to get them to the next level.

NASCAR maintains that it cannot do anything to get a driver or crew member to that next level because it would be a conflict of interest. They feel they cannot sponsor someone in one of the national series because they are the sanctioning body, and it would not be right if they actually put money into a given driver’s career. So, the people who make it into the program are forced to go it on their own to make it to the national level. Even though NASCAR has companies coming at them routinely with sponsorship money, they are not funneling any of it to their diversity drivers to help them get that big break into the big leagues.

Fortunately for Marc Davis and his fans, Harry Davis gave everything he had to make sure that Marc had the opportunity to advance his career to that next level, including some limited exposure in the Truck and Nationwide series. Here’s hoping that some company will recognize the talent Marc possesses and sponsor him for a full season so that Harry’s lifelong dream can finally be realized and his son can show off his talents to everyone on a national scale.

We’ll miss you Harry. Godspeed.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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