In memory of Rick Davis
- one of racing's all-time greats -
Written by M. Rosenwinkel
Rick had unparalleled success across the spectrum of model car racing at the highest levels. Rick was an engineer by education and was renowned for his meticulous craftsmanship in everything he did. He ran the storied Three-D's Bike & Hobby in Gross Pointe, MI, taking his generational family business into the stratosphere of big-time slot car racing, hosting some of the largest and well-attended HO races of the late 1970s into the 1990s. He hosted many regular-season HOPRA races on the Michigan circuit, but his "Winter Nationals" became second only to the HOPRA Nationals in stature and prestige, annually attracting an international crowd.
Rick cut his teeth in 1/32 slot car racing in and around the Detroit metropolitan area. He quickly was dominating the local scene and moved into 1/24 racing. During the NCC National Championship six-race series, he participated in several events, placing on the podium in third place at the Louisiana Grand Prix at Model Car Raceways in Metairie, LA. Only Mike Steube and Lee Gilbert finished ahead of him, and he placed above Joel Montague, Tom Hansen, John Anderson, and many others.
When the first 1/24 Nationals took place in 1971 at Parma, there was effectively a warm-up race conducted only a few months prior. Rick beat all comers that day, including such iconic names as Jan Limpach (Nationals Champion in 1972, 1974, and 1978) and eventual inaugural champion Dan Bloodworth. Rick also won one of the most well-attended 1/24 races ever, with over 167 entries.
Rick discovered R/C racing that summer of 1971 and immediately switched from slot cars to 1/8 gas R/C racing. By 1980 he was the ROAR National Champion.
Besides hosting so many wonderful races in his shop, Rick was likely the pre-eminent HO track designer of his day. At the 1984 HOPRA Nationals, Rick finished again on the podium in third place.
Rick Davis was a pioneer, innovator, and master-craftsman. He was known throughout the racing community as always willing to help. Those who took his keen advice were always faster as a result.
In the tide of seasons in model car racing, one would struggle to come up with a name, across the span of scales and classes, to match the success of Rick Davis. A record that took Rick to the pinnacles of 1/32, 1/24, and HO scales of slot cars and a national championship in 1/8 gas R/C racing.
Rick was a true friend to many inside and outside of his model racing activities. When we last visited at his home in person only several months ago, I told him he was truly on the Mount Rushmore of scale racing. As always, he laughed as only he could.
Rest in peace, my friend. Our prayers are with you and your family.