• Local driver evolves from legends to racing Legends

    By Larry Woody -

    Young Lebanon racer Davis Rochester’s racing roots run deep, and he’s determined to carry on the family tradition.

    Davis, 17, is interning with a race team in South Carolina this summer, absorbing all he can about the sport’s business and manufacturing aspects while also competing in the Atlanta Thursday Thunder Legends Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He leads the championship standings with seven races to go.

    “I’ve been around racing for as long as I can remember, and I love it,” says Davis, whose father David moved to Lebanon in 1998 to pursue a career in the electronic recording industry.

    “I like everything about the sport, from the technical aspects of building the cars to the excitement of racing them,” Davis says. “I’m blown away by NASCAR racing. It’s great.”

    That attraction could be genetic. Davis’ grandfather Gene worked with NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner Bud Moore for several years, fielding cars for some of the sport’s greatest drivers.

    Gene also owned a bob-tail truck that competed in the GATR Series. His number 97 “Junkyard Dog” won two national GATR championships and was featured in the Smokey and the Bandit II movie starring Burt Reynolds.

    “I never raced anything but go-karts,” David says, “but I was always interested in the sport from being around it with my father. I guess Davis inherited that same interest from me.”

    Davis won the most recent Atlanta Thunder Series race at the iconic Georgia track, boosting him into first place in the championship standings and attracting the attention of Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark.

    “Davis is a smart, talented driver,” Clark says. “He’s got good equipment and he knows how to use it. I predict he’ll go far in this sport.”

    Davis is determined and dedicated, sacrificing his summer vacation to intern with the South Carolina race team that builds and maintains the Legends cars he drives.

    “I want learn all I can, and this internship is a great way to do it,” he says. “Everybody on the team is really helpful. It’s been a great learning experience and I hope to top it off with a championship.”

    Davis is mindful of his family’s racing tradition.

    “I’m too young to have been around any of those great drivers my grandfather worked with,” he says. “But I’ve heard the stories. It’s pretty awesome.”

    After completing his summer internship, Davis will return home to Lebanon to prepare for his senior year at Pope John Paul High School.

    After graduation, he’s not sure what his future holds.

    “Whether I go to college or something else, I definitely plan a career in racing,” he says. “It could be in engineering or it could be in driving. I’d like to be a professional driver, but realistically that’s hard to do. I’m almost too old.”

    Too old at 17?

    “Nowadays young drivers who race in NASCAR generally are connected to a team by that age,” Davis says. “By their standards, I’m getting a late start.”

    Davis’ impressive performances at Atlanta Motor Speedway are attracting wide-spread attention, he is poised and professional beyond his years, and he has some high-speed genetics going for him. He has plenty of time to catch up.

    Larry Woody is The Democrat’s motorsports writer. Email him at [email protected].

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