Name:

Missy Davis

Age:

30

Region:

Great Lakes

Hometown:

Akron, Ohio

Racing Class:

PTF

Sponsors:

Graphic Detail

Day Job:

Marketing

Favorite Food:

Steak

Favorite TV show:

Australian V8 Supercars

Favorite Movie:

“Cool Runnings”

Favorite Book:

“The Art of Racing in the Rain”

Favorite Track:

Grattan Raceway

Dream Racecar:

Corvette C7R
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Being named a NASA region’s “Instructor of the Year” is an honor. Earning a regional points championship is an achievement. Great Lakes Region racer Missy Davis has done both. Twice.

Instructor of the year in 2012 and 2013 and Performance Touring F Champion in 2012 and 2014, Davis has come a long way since the days when she used to drag-race her Pontiac Firebird at the local strip. Her story of becoming involved with NASA follows a familiar path.

Looking for more track time than passes down the quarter mile, Davis began autocrossing her Dodge Neon. However, as anyone who ever has autocrossed can tell you, spending the majority of the day resetting toppled cones on a hot patch of asphalt in exchange for less than five minutes of time in the car wasn’t enough to feed her need for speed. A friend of hers bought her a track day, and once she got a taste of driving on a road course, she knew that was the place to be.

A couple of friends introduced her to NASA and she entered the HPDE program and was hooked. She loved the program and those same instructors are still her friends to this day. Davis went through levels one through four and into Time Trials, then got her competition license.

It didn’t take long for her to buy a racecar, another Neon that was an older, fully caged Showroom Stock C car that needed some love.

“My car ended up sitting in a field for about seven years,” she said. “I’ve kind of restored it back from something that was raced and sat for quite some time and now it’s back on the track. It had carpet and everything that a normal car would have, and had been sitting outside for seven years with no windows.”

She loves racing, she said, but she has come to enjoy instructing just as much.

“My degree in college was originally going to be secondary education, so I kind of have a aptitude for instruction as it is,” she said. “It just makes it more fulfilling for me, knowing that my car isn’t the best thing on the track or the fastest, there are also other reasons that I’m there.”

Davis has done some enduros and will be doing more this year, including a five-hour race at Autobahn with another female driver, Heather Clegg, whom Davis is mentoring in a driver-development program. She also has worked in supporting roles for some Pirelli World Challenge and Trans Am teams, spotting and even doing a little test driving at her home track, Mid-Ohio. She learned a lot from those experiences, including valuable insight into sponsorships and car preparation.

“I think the level of talent you see and the level of preparation in a bigger series really gives you the ambition to do that yourself,” she said. “They have cars up on jack stands between every single session. They have toe adjustments after every single time out on track.”

Even after the experiences in professional series, Davis’ passion still lies with racing her Neon and teaching HPDE students. It’s what drives her, and she said instructing is every bit as rewarding as racing, just for different reasons.

What’s her secret? She begins by taking time to get to know each student individually. Every student has a different attitude, skills, and a different goal in mind. By getting to know the student, she can teach them in the manner in which they need to be taught.

“It’s just behaviors. It’s talking to them before we get into the car to know where they’ve been and where they want to be,” Davis said. “Maybe they’re happy being in HPDE2 for the rest of their life. Maybe they want to be a racer by next year. You can’t take them out of their comfort level. If you’re pushing the HPDE2 driver and try to make him a racer, and you scare him, he’s going to regress instead of progress. It’s just knowing where they are and what they want.

“It can be terrifying. It can be exhilarating,” she added. “It just depends. I’ve had everything from brand new 5.0 Mustangs that they’re borrowing from their daddy, on slicks and they’ve never driven a car before, to being in a Honda Civic. It’s a rush every time for different reasons. Maybe it’s a car I can’t afford to be in, so riding in a Ferrari might be the entertainment value, in teaching someone how to drive a car I can only dream of owning. Or maybe it’s a Honda Civic, and I can show him how to be just as fast as the Corvette that’s next to us because of his driving skills not because of the car.”

finish line

Brett Becker

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Image courtesy of Brett Becker