There aren't many open wheel drivers who have a business that matches their love for racing. Midget top-gun A.J. Davis, though, is one exception.
The 2001 ARCA Midget Champion runs his own business, Tune Tech Cut Tires in Indianapolis, which specializes in kart race tires, parts, speed services, and tire mounting, cutting, and balancing.
Davis knows the trade well. He started his racing career in karts, racing the mini-movers for some 13 years. He won more than 200 races on both dirt and pavement in four-cycle Briggs race cars.
"It was a great family deal, and they backed me 100 percent," Davis says. "Kart racing taught me just about everything about racing, including patience on the track, planned and smooth moves, looking ahead, and how to be aggressive, but smooth."
At age 18, Davis decided it was time to take the next step up, and he was presented with an excellent opportunity to do so.
"Pete Willoughby of kart-building Magnum Chassis decided to go midget racing, and he looked to me to be his driver," Davis says. "We started out with a Stealth midget that had been previously driven by Johnny Parsons Jr. That first season I started with the NAMARS series and had best finishes of third and seventh with that group. I also ran a USAC Midget race at Indianapolis Raceway Park and got a fifth. Things were moving along pretty good at the time."
Then Davis was involved in a horrendous crash at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway. He suffered a broken neck and pelvis. The recovery would last six months, but Davis wasn't finished with racing.
On his own for the 1997 season, Davis packed his bags and moved from his Spartanburg, South Carolina, home to Indy with basically no money in his pockets. "I had to live in a garage for a couple of months before getting things together," he says. "I bought a 15-year-old Edmunds midget, but didn't do anything. Then I met Margaret Owen, one of my current owners, who bought me a new Stealth car."
Davis ran that car to a win and a dozen Top 5s in USAC and NAMARS in 1998. The following year, he won at Toledo, posted several seconds, and a won a couple of poles. Last season he won the ARCA title racing for owner Rick Harold of KO Motorsports.
With Owen, Davis ran selected USAC races including South Boston, Virginia, where he led for 37 laps. "Then, in a crazy deal, I got run over by a push truck on a restart after a red flag," Davis says. "He rode up over me and took me out."
Also last year, Davis raced an ISMA Super Modified. He finished the season in the tough USAC Western Swing, finishing fourth in the Tucson race.
Davis has a ton of activities planned in 2002. "I plan to run all the USAC pavement races, along with selected NAMARS Midget and Super Modified races," he says. "I probably won't have time to defend my ARCA title, though."
Name: A.J. Davis
Dob: February 17, 1978
Hometown: Spartanburg, South Carolina (Now lives in Indianapolis)
Series: USAC, ARCA, NAMARS
Sponsors: Owen Racing, Mitchner Plating, Greg's Body Shop, Gaerte Engineering, Westar Development