Bill Davis sells off majority of team, engine company
Bill Davis, struggling to keep his team afloat during a fruitless search for sponsorship, has sold majority ownership of both his race team and his engine company.
Mike Held, a California businessman, and Marty Gaunt, an executive with Bill Davis Racing, purchased majority interest from Davis. The duo said they’ve also taken control of Triad Racing Development, which supplied engines, chassis and bodies for all three of NASCAR’s top series.
The new company is named Triad Racing Technologies.
Davis, who has been in NASCAR for more than 20 years, won the 2002 Daytona 500 with Ward Burton and the Truck Series championship this season with Johnny Benson. But he lost his Cup team sponsor and has been unable to secure funding for 2009.
“This is an exciting time for us,” Gaunt said. “With the changing economic landscape, we see this as an opportunity to service existing Toyota teams and build the business by providing cost effective engine support and chassis production to all racing teams regardless of manufacturer association.”
With more than 40 years combined motorsports experience, including ownership, Gaunt and Held will immediately hold management roles. Gaunt, was a co-owner of Red Horse Racing in the Truck Series team before holding management positions with Red Bull Racing Team and BDR. Held, who has an engineering background, co-owned teams in Indy car and NASCAR with Robby Gordon.
Held also owns Co-Pilott, LLC, a marketing company that services a number of motorsports clients.
“We’ve known Marty and Mike for many years and wish them all the best in this new endeavor,” said Lee White, president and general manager of Toyota Racing Development, USA. “Of course, we’ve had a very good relationship with Bill Davis and everyone at Triad and we expect that relationship to continue with TRT.”
“We’re proud to be a support gear for all teams in the NASCAR arena and racing across the US,” Held said. “Triad Racing Technologies will provide services such as engine development, manufacturing and engineering services as well as chassis fabrication and design. Bill and Gail Davis have built strong companies and we intend to carry on the tradition. Clearly, Triad’s history of championship successes are proof that this brain trust led by Jon Dysinger and Todd Holbert will continue to be a force in the marketplace.”
In addition to the engine and chassis business, which will remain in High Point, N.C., TRT has opened a sales support office in Cornelius, N.C., to support all of TRT’s clients in NASCAR and across other potential racing series. Co-Pilott Motorsports Marketing will handle all of the marketing and public relations for the new company.
The attention, for now, is on Triad, where the new owners hope to expand the engine leasing program beyond its current Nationwide and Truck Series customers and into the Cup Series. The chassis program already services all three series.
“With the constricting economy ... program managers are having to reevaluate their budget,” Held said. “They are going to take a real hard look, for example, whether they should have their own chassis program. Our guess is, once they start to look, that process plus their engine department -- two huge line items -- they may say ’Hmm, we may need to rethink this.’ ”
The goal, they said, is to increase Triad’s engine business by 20 percent during the next season.
The new owners of BDR want to have competition details finalized by late January, but are hoping to have both the Cup program and all the Truck Series teams on track in February in Daytona. Held said much of it is dependent on sponsorship, and they are unlikely to field the Cup team without funding.
Davis will have nothing to do with Triad moving forward, Gaunt and held said, and any participation in the race team will be in a “godfatherly way.”
Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Toyota in the Cup Series since 2006, had two top-10 finishes in 35 starts in 2008. He finished 30th in points.
In the Truck Series, Benson, Mike Skinner and Scott Speed combined to win seven races and Davis’ first championship. Benson left BDR at season’s end and will drive for Red Horse Racing next year in the Truck Series. Speed will drive for Red Bull Racing Team in the Cup Series in 2009.
Davis, a native of Arkansas, broke into NASCAR with Mark Martin, who finished fourth in the No. 06 Ford in the Nationwide Series’ Goody’s 300 on Feb. 13, 1988. Martin also had been the driver for Davis’ ASA team in the Midwest.
In 1991, Davis signed Jeff Gordon to drive in the Nationwide Series. He posted five top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in the No. 1 car. The next year, Ray Evernham came on board and Gordon won three races with 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s and finished fourth in points. It proved to be the springboard to a Cup Series career for Gordon, now a four-time series champion.
Davis made the leap to the Cup Series in 1993 with another future series champion, Bobby Labonte. He raced two seasons with Davis in the No. 22, posting one top-five finish and eight top-10s in 61 starts.
Burton gave the team its first Cup Series victory on Oct. 22, 1995, at Rockingham. Burton also provided Bill Davis Racing with its benchmark Cup Series win -- the 2002 Daytona 500 -- among his five victories with the team from 1995-2003.
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