By Ryan Lengerich
In 1996, Jim Davis died of lung cancer only a year after seeing the Ned Houk Motor Sports Complex construction completed — a project in which he had a major stake.
To honor Davis, NHMSC board members are holding the Jim Davis Memorial Race at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night to benefit the American Cancer Society. Organizers will donate $1 of each gate receipt to the cancer society.
The annual event has raised as much as $800 in past years and about $300 last year, said NHMSC Board President Jim Phillips.
To boost attendance, an autographed motorcycle Davis’ son Frank purchased from late-night comedian Jay Leno will be on display at Ned Houk. Frank Davis, who drowned last summer, bought the Leno bike for more than $320,000 after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with proceeds benefiting 9/11 victims.
“It is real nice. It hasn’t been rode but one time and that was at my mom’s funeral,” said Jim’s other son Bill, who on Friday plans to race a car he built.
Phillips said the event will also have a $500 five-lap “dash for cash,” in which the top two drivers from each heat can compete. The number of heats depend how many drivers enter.
Phillips said Jim Davis was instrumental in constructing the complex. The Davis family owns Davis Pump and Drilling in Portales, where the family has lived since 1902. Phillips said Jim dug the well at the complex at no cost.
“I was very close to him when I was building the race track,” Phillips said. “He and I worked closely.”
The featured race Friday is in the modified class, which Phillips said honors Jim, who owned two modified cars.
More modified cars will enter Friday’s race than on an average week, which Philips said is because many drivers knew Jim Davis.
Bill said his father’s favorite NASCAR driver was Dale Earnhardt and he loved working at the track.
“It was his way to relax,” he said. “From go carts to NASCAR, he loved it all.”