Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series Spotlight: Iconic owner Nancy Davis going strong with War Party
Corona, CA (August 2, 2018) – When friends invited Nancy Davis to a drag boat race in 1978, she had little idea that it was the beginning of a 40-year love affair with the sport – and it’s still going.
“That was it,” Davis said of her first experience of going to a drag boat race. “I’ve been in racing ever since. It’s thrilling, it’s exciting, it’s hard work. You just have to feel it, hear it, see it. It’s just an incredible experience at every race.”
Davis, 73, remains one of the sport’s iconic team owners in the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series. Her Top Alcohol Flat “War Party” driven by Bill Diez is running strong, currently fourth in the championship standings after a runner-up finish in 2017.
“The season is going great,” Davis said recently from her home in Montgomery, Texas. “Every time we go out, we improve. Each race, we improve. That’s what you want. It’s just awesome to see the boat and the team move forward.”
War Party is one of the best-known boats in the sport, going back to the days when Nancy and Jerry Davis met at a race in Liberty, Texas, in 1986. Prior to that, Nancy was part of the original National Debt Racing Team running the Unblown Gas Jet Class with the Southern Drag Boat Association.
That team won numerous championships as Nancy built an extensive knowledge about race boats, motors and all about the business.
The Nancy and Jerry Davis duo was a force to be reckoned with, winning championships in various boat series with Jerry driving and Nancy involved in literally every aspect of the team – working on the motor, coordinating travel, handling design of team apparel and public relations.
Nancy Davis’ involvement in the sport went beyond the water. She also was the banquet chair for the Southern Drag Boat Association for several years along with serving on the board of directors for the Racers Emergency Support Program starting in 1991. She maintains her close ties with RESP.
But Nancy’s story is not without heartache. Jerry Davis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009. While he was able to finish that season, Jerry passed away in January of 2010.
“Jerry’s desire at the time he passed was to try and keep the boat running,” Nancy Davis said. “After he passed away, it wasn’t possible to put it out (on the water) at that time.”
Nancy Davis said she and Diez, who was a top Top Alcohol Flat competitor and often raced against Jerry Davis and War Party, had known each other for years. They held conversations between Jerry’s passing up until 2015 about teaming up to campaign War Party. While Nancy had a hand in some Top Fuel Hydro team ownership during that time, her heart was with War Party and honoring Jerry’s legacy.
“It was in storage,” Nancy Davis said of the boat. “In 2015, we had awesome meetings and put together a team. For me, it was either, ‘I’ve got to sell it or run it and if you’ll drive it, we’ll run it.’ So that’s how our team came about.
“It was a prayer answered.”
Diez said the team meshed beautifully from the beginning.
“I had known Nancy for years and years when Jerry was racing and I used to race against them. So it’s pretty cool to race with them now,” Diez said. “Everybody hit it off. We’re all here for the same reason. We all want to go racing, we all want to have fun and we want to do the best we can. The whole group is focused that we’re safe and as fast as we can be.”
War Party’s first race after returning was a runner-up at the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series Showdown in San Angelo, Texas. The team ran four races that year in the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series and then the entire schedule in 2016, finishing fifth in points.
Then came the breakthrough 2017 season when War Party was Top Alcohol Flat Championship runner-up.
“That was exciting,” Davis said. “I was so proud of the team.”
Davis, who received the Heart of Drag Boat Racing Award in 2015 that is awarded only to women involved in drag boat racing, still gets her hands dirty in the pit area. She laughs when asked about onlookers, who don’t know her story, exhibit surprised looks they see her working in the pits.
“They are surprised,” she said. “Especially because of my age. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, really?’ Then of course, they find out that it’s a true story. But it’s fun.”
Diez said Nancy Davis “lives this deal. She’s probably one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Her heart is really into the sport. If there’s anybody who puts their whole heart into it, it would be her.”
Davis said she especially enjoys seeing the youngsters getting involved in the sport, both male and female, in the entry-level divisions.
“You see these young kids in jet skis or starting out and stepping up into higher classes, and you see the women who are doing the driving now, and it is so uplifting,” she said.
As she continues living in the boat-racing fast lane, Davis also remains committed to the Racers Emergency Support Program. The non-profit organization helps racers and their families in times of need, such as bad crashes.
“It is so rewarding to be able to be able to step in and help these people at a time when they don’t even know where to turn,” Davis said. “The wife may be at home, she may need a flight. Just getting them to the hospital if they’re at the track. It’s just those things that mean so much.
“I’ve experienced that because Jerry had crashed before, at Fort Worth, and it was a major situation. I had the support and I know what it’s like to have somebody there who can take care of things that you are not thinking about or don’t know what to do.
“It’s comforting to racers to know that we’re there. If something does go wrong, and it can, there is somebody there to help.”
Next up for War Party is the 8th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway’s “Lake Lucas” in Wheatland, Missouri. Nancy Davis encourages fans to stop by and see the team in the pit area, especially youngsters.
“I cannot wait to get back to Wheatland,” Davis said. “That is one of the most awesome drag boat racing courses in the country.”
Championship chases on the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series will resume Aug. 31-Sept. 2, with the 9th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Advance tickets are on sale for the Diamond Drag Boat Nationals at by contacting Lucas Oil Speedway Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or my email at [email protected]. Fans also can go online to purchase tickets.
Friday and Saturday7 a.m. – Registration opens8 a.m. – Spectator gates open9 a.m. – Round 1 Qualifying (Sportsman session)10:30 a.m. – Round 1 Qualifying (Pro session)12:30 p.m. – Round 2 Qualifying (Sportsman session)
2 p.m. – Round 2 Qualifying (Pro session)
Sunday8 a.m. – Spectator gates open
9 a.m. – Eliminations
***All times are tentative and subject to change without notice.
Ticket prices (All tickets include access to Drag Boat pit area):
Friday General admission (6 and over) $10 Kids (5 and under) FREE 3-day general admission $50 3-day seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
3-day youth (ages 6-15) $20
Saturday (includes admission to dirt-track racing on Saturday night) Adults (16 and over) $25 Seniors (62 and over)/Military $22 Youth (ages 6-15) $10 Kids (5 and under) FREE 3-day general admission (16 and over) $50 3-day Seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
3-day youth (ages 6-15) $20
Sunday Adults (16 and over) $25 Seniors (62 and over)/Military $22 Youth (ages 6-15) $10 Kids (5 and under) FREE 3-day general admission (16 and over) $50 3-day Seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
Kids (5 and under) FREE
For more information and to buy tickets please visit the 8th Annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals event detail page.