MEET KIM & JIM, TOP FUEL’S NEW TAG TEAM
“The Spirit of Texas” driver Scott Lumbert, the two-time Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series Top Fuel Hydro champion who’s considered “the fastest man on water” at 275 mph, is recovering from the Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, crash that caused traumatic brain injury and initially left him a coma for two months. He is mending, too, from compression fractures in his neck and back he sustained in the 262-mph crash at Marble Falls, Texas. With hours and hours of guidance from a personal trainer, Lumbert is making progress in regaining his speech, walking, balance, and daily functioning.
About 200 miles northeast of Marble Falls is Ennis, Texas, home of the Texas Motorplex. That’s where 14 months later – Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 – NHRA Top Fuel racer Steve Torrence rode out a nasty crash of his own. His Capco Contractors Dragster experienced damage to the left rear tire. That caused his car, which a split-second before had won the quarterfinal race at 302.62 mph, to smash into the guard wall in his left lane. The chassis broke in two, and the rear end of the car, with Torrence in it, darted across the track and hit the right-lane wall. As the crowd held its breath, remembering John Force’s horrifying accident 10 years before in the second round of Funny Car eliminations, Torrence emerged unhurt. In a back-up dragster, he returned for the semifinals and lost.
But Torrence was unscathed.
And that didn’t go unnoticed by Kim and Michelle Davidson, of Leander, Texas.
Kim Davidson raced the Top Fuel Hydro drag boat “Disorderly Conduct” but already had elected to stay off the water. He still had that need for speed, so he had immersed himself in drag racing.
“We decided at the end of ’16 to go in a different direction,” he said, including wife Michelle.“We had kind of seen where boat racing was going. We knew that Lucas was on the verge of pulling out. And our buddy, Scotty Lumbert, was in that bad crash. And so we finished out the end of the season and made a decision that’s let go do something else.”
Kim Davidson echoed her husband, with whom she owns Diesel Tech, an automotive repair business.
“You’ve got a better chance of walking away if you crash one of these cars than you do a boat. We’ve watched it happen so many times,” she said. “Right after we watched [Lumbert’s] accident on the water, we watched Steve Torrence walk away and race the next round. When he crashed at [300-mph-plus] going through the traps in Dallas and he walked right out . . .
“I didn’t know how tough it was until he put his helmet on and put him in the boat,” Michelle Davidson said. “I’m happy to have him on the asphalt.”
Kim Davidson said that convinced his wife more than himself to make the switch. He had committed to racing a Murf McKinney-crafted dragster. He has partnered with Jim Maroney, last year’s NHRA rookie of the year candidate, and the two plan to split driving duties.
The car’s next appearance will be at the April 12-14 Mopar Express Lane Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park. Davidson will make his NHRA debut then, if he has completed his Top Fuel licensing process. If he hasn’t by that time, Maroney will drive the Diesel Tech Services / American Flowtech / Integrated Metal Products, Inc. Dragster.
According to Kim Davidson, “The way we’ll look at it is the West Coast races, Jim will handle. He’ll run everything on the West and then everything, Texas and all that, we’ll wind up running on that side.”
He said, “We’re excited to get the car out here. We’re trying to make headway right now, getting our funding. Funding for every team out here right now is a hard thing. So we get our funding in order and we’ll go from there. We’re very fortunate we’ve got Integrated Metal Products, Robert Mills, that helps us a lot – a lot.”
Mills owns the custom precision sheet metal manufacturing company that also is based at Leander, Texas. And he owns the “Disorderly Conduct” race boat.
“We’re excited about everything,” Kim Davidson said, “and we’re going to run everything that we can possibly run, depending on our funding.”
He said he and his wife “have funded everything.”
She said, “We’re 100-percent self-funded, and now we’re to the point where we’re tapped out.”
Her husband said, “We’ve spent a quarter of a million dollars in the last 15 months. It takes a lot, but we didn’t want to go after any sponsors, either, until we had the product.”
Michelle Davidson said, “We didn’t want to sell a dream. We wanted to sell a product.”
She said they’re “flexible” when it comes to funding, willing to offer corporations the chance to partner with the team for one race, several races, or a full season.
“We’re very flexible. We own our own business, where we know how it is.”
Said Kim Davidson, “We understand where the money comes from.”
She proudly said, “We started in the bed of a truck, and now we have 12,000 square foot under roof.”
“Sixty-thousand square foot of parking,” he added.
“We built it with no debt to anyone else, either,” she said.
“No debt,” Kim Davidson backed her up. “We’re planning on doing the same thing here. It’s hard. You know, we’ve still got four girls at home.”
Michelle Davidson said they have their plans and their integrity.
“We want to come through with our promises that we make to our sponsors. That’s not always doable if you have a plan and get the money. It doesn’t always end up being enough. We don’t want to be that. We want to have everything ready to run and say, ‘If you do this, we’re going to do that.’ We’re not going to quit because we didn’t bring enough parts.”
“We have parts,” he reassured.
She said, “We’re going to race until we have to go back and rebuild.”
For Kim Davidson, foremost is the commitment to “maintain your integrity.” He said he looks to Top Fuel veteran Scott Palmer as a role model.
“We’re a very similar team to Scott Palmer’s. I’m looking to follow like Palmer has and built his stuff,” he said. “A handshake is more than a contract. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
In an instant, he took off his businessman’s hat and melted into an eager little boy, saying, “We’re very excited about everything. I’ll be more excited when I’m in the driver’s seat.”
They got an important piece of advice from two of NHRA drag racing’s smartest individuals. And they said they’re truly thankful for it.
“We’re just trying to take the right steps. We almost rushed it at the end of last year. [Kim] was ready to take it to Vegas, and actually Don Schumacher and Todd Okuhara talked him down and said, ‘Man you’ve got really nice stuff. You’ve invested a lot of money. It would be a shame to see you go tear it up because you’re in a hurry,’” Michelle Davidson said. “He said let me help you.”
Kim Davidson had nothing but praise for Schumacher, who is working through sponsorship-procurement struggles for his headliner team with son Tony Schumacher but makes time to encourage them.
“Don Schumacher has been a blessing. And Todd Okuhara. It’s all, it’s contact with Don himself personally. Great man,” he said. “He’s been an awesome, awesome person. We’ve heard a lot of different stories, but I’m going to tell you right now, don’t nobody need to be talking bad about that man, because he’s been 100-percent straight-up. He’s a businessman.”
“He is top notch,” Michelle Davidson said. “Can’t speak well enough of the man. Genuine.”
She said they struck up a friendship with him in Colorado “which originated on a handshake with two strangers.” She said she and her husband introduced themselves to Schumacher.
“We did,” she said. “Told him we were going to build a drag car.”
“And,” Kim Davidson said, “you know how many times he hears that a weekend?”
“And he didn’t treat us that way,” she said. ”He treated us like he’d never heard it before. And that was a year and a half ago, and he’s continued. The car wouldn’t be here without his help.”
“And that’s what it’s all about. We’re business people,” Kim Davidson said. “He’s been an amazing person, approachable that you could walk up to and shake his hand. Literally when I call him, he answers the phone and goes, ‘Hey, Kim, how are you?’ We run all DSR clutches, 100 percent.”
Michelle Davidson said, “The car wouldn’t be here without Jim Maroney’s help, either. It is a group effort. You can’t race alone. You can bring all your stuff and you still can’t race alone.”
“We wouldn’t be here either without Diesel Tech, our company. Our guys keep everything rolling,” Kim Davidson said. The group’s awesome, man. We’re blessed to be here. We have a dream, and we’re going to make it happen together.”
It’s not uncommon for racers to have value-based messages written on the back side of the dragster’s rear wing. And the Maroney-Davidson team took the chance to showcase a quote by a fellow named Blair Joscelyne (a/k/a “Moog”), from the Australian video series “Mighty Car Mods.” Fillin out most f its rear-wing space is Joscelyne’s sentiment: “I’d rather lose by a mile because I built my own car than win by an inch because someone built it for me. Your car is your story. Don’t let someone else write the book.”
The Davidsons and Maroneys are writing each chapter carefully, thoughtfully, earnestly, eager themselves to see what they’ll write on every new page they turn.