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Monday, May 27, 2024


RICHARD Davison is one round away from sealing a fairytale title in the same car which helped kick-start the careers of his sons Alex and Will.

The 68-year-old moved two points clear atop the standings in the 1600 (Kent) class of the Victorian Formula Ford Championship with pole position, two wins and a second-place finish last weekend at Sandown.

Making his success all the more meaningful is the effort to return the car to its 1998 livery, in which Alex Davison competed with backing from the late Garry Dumbrell’s Wynn’s company.

At the end of 1997 Dumbrell, father of future Bathurst winner Paul, and Richard Davison went halves in the purchase of the Van Diemen that Garth Tander had driven to that year’s national title.

The Davison and Dumbrell families had come to know each other through their children’s school connections.

“It was at a period in my life where the family shoe business had shut down in 1993 and I was in the process of trying to rebuild my career,” Richard recalled to V8 Sleuth.

“I had just started a new business and quite frankly with two boys in private schools and other things, motor racing was the least thing I could afford to do – but I really wanted to try to further their careers and Formula Ford was the next step for us.

“I really didn’t have any idea how I was going to manage it, so in conversations with Garry – and it wasn’t conversations relating to asking him for help, it was just conversations about life in general – he very kindly offered to purchase half of that Van Diemen and to assist me with the running costs of it.

“He was very, very keen to see Alex proceed and I think in his own way he probably saw it as helping him develop a pathway for Paul, should he continue in motorsport.

A tribute message carried on Richard Davison’s Formula Ford. Pic: Supplied

“I thought it was time with Garry’s passing to re-decal it exactly as it was back in ’98.”

The Davisons acquired the car from its owner Brett Lupton at the 1997 Formula Ford national finale at Oran Park, but not without a last-minute side deal to get it over the line.

“We had pre-agreed on the deal and Garry had paid me the money for his half and I had to pay Brett for the whole thing before he would transfer the car over, and at that moment in time, standing there at Oran Park, I still didn’t have my share of the money,” said Davison Sr.

“I still had a Formula Holden that I raced during 1990 and had Ken Smith from New Zealand on the other end of the phone, who was offering to buy it from me for an amount of money that was so small it was obscene, but we agreed upon a deal because that was the only way I was going to be able to get the Formula Ford over the line.

“Ken being a Kiwi and Brett Lupton being a Kiwi and they both knew each other, because this was a Sunday and long before you could easily do transfers to bank accounts via the internet, so I got Ken and Brett to speak to each other and Ken guaranteed to Brett that the money would be in his account on the Monday morning, so Brett agreed that he would let the car go.”

The car travelled back to Melbourne with the help of Garry Rogers Motorsport and its Supercars transporter, and Alex Davison would go on to take seventh in the 1998 national championship, and third the following year in an upgraded model, before heading to Germany.

Alex and Will Davison, with Anton De Pasquale and Tony D’Alberto at the 2021 Bathurst 1000. Pic: Shell V-Power Racing Team

The car was then passed down to Will, who drove it to the 2000 Victorian Formula Ford Championship title, and it was later raced by future NASCAR and IndyCar driver James Davison (Richard’s nephew).

“The car has got a good history,” said Richard, who did subsequently buy back Dumbrell’s share of the car.

“I sort of set myself this little goal while I can still put one foot in front of the other, to see if I can win a series, so I decided this year that I would start the year in the state series and see how I went and I would make the decision race-by-race if it was worth continuing.

“We’re now leading the points series going into the final round at Phillip Island.

“That would be just a big buzz for me to sort of emulate the success that the boys have had in that car.”

The Phillip Island decider will take place across September 23-25.

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