June 25, 2021
By David Kennedy
In an age where activation is the force multiplier of marketing partnerships, David H. Davies is not only sponsoring the Factory Stock Showdown class—he’s also campaigning its newest car.
Check writing. It’s one of the fundamentals of racing and business. Competitors and company owners spend money every single day, but it’s essential for them to spend money in the areas that will net the greatest return. When each dollar spent creates multiple positive outcomes for a race program or a business, they are on the path to success.
David H. Davies, is not only the principle behind the Constant Aviation sponsorship of the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class, but he’s also its newest racer. Why? Because he understands there’s already an intrinsic connection between his corporate goals, and NHRA drag racing. We caught up with him as he unloaded his 2021 Dodge//SRT Drag Pak Showdown car before his first qualifying session to hear more about his goals in drag racing.
NHRA: What’s your background in drag racing?
David H. Davies: For the last three years we’ve been all over the country racing a bone-stock Dodge Demon. We’ve done really, really well with that car. It’s a good bracket car, it just runs too fast. Before that, I did some Super Gas racing back in the day, just very briefly, nothing dramatic. When the Drag Pak was announced in 2019 at SEMA, I called and talked to the people at SRT that afternoon. I was like, ‘I’ll take one. Tell me where to sign. Tell me where to send the bag of cash and tell me when to pick it up. Just go.’
NHRA: Then obviously it got delayed.
Davies: My plan was always to take that car and go and jumping into the Factory Stock Showdown racing. That was the plan, but it got delayed and delayed and delayed. I kept talking to Dodge, and they did a great job of communicating with me because they’d call out of the blue and give me an update. And everybody knew why [the 2021 Drag Pak] was delayed, and it was logical and there was no reason to be aggravated. I told them, ‘You gotta do something.’ Cause if they didn’t build one, I was going to go build an outlaw car, and there’s no way in hell I can run two.
NHRA: So you got one of the first Drag Pak’s?
Davies: It’s not because of me, I’m sure, but the timing worked right. [Dodge] gave me a little bit of a heads up about the dates and the timing. And I said, okay, I’ll hold off. I’ll stand down on the outlaw car. And then we got this thing [the 2021 Dodge Drag Pak], and this, this was what I always wanted to do. This Showdown class, the Factory Stock class, the way [NHRA] has it set up is a bridge between the pros and the sportsman. It’s a hell of a good bridge. I’ve had some pretty strong ideas about the class over the years, just from the outside looking in. And then when I took over Constant Aviation [the new sponsor of the Factory Stock Showdown class], believe it or not in January of 2020 of all times, right?
NHRA: What’s the aviation industry’s connection to drag racing cars?
Davies: Well, Constant Aviation is one company inside of a family of companies owned and managed by a couple of private equity firms. So I ran Flex Jet for three or four years and I’ve been moved around to the other companies. My specialty seems to be going and fixing stuff that’s broken. That’s kinda, that’ my lot in life. That’s kinda what I do. So Flex Jet, as an example, sponsors a polo team. Another one of our companies, Sentient Jet, they do a lot of stuff with the thoroughbreds. They do Breakfast at the Derby and they do stuff with Pimlico and the Triple Crown stuff, that’s their cup of tea.
All of our brands found their little marketing niche. Their way to get out from inside of the industry bubble that we’re in. So I was looking for that for Constant Aviation. It was my goal last year was to find something, but last year was last year. Right? NHRA sounded like the right fit for Constant Aviation. Cause my guys and gals work in the hangers, we get our hands dirty. We’re fixing private jets. So it just seemed to make sense.
[When the opportunity to sponsor the series came up] it took three or four days and we had the deal points done and then the attorneys had it for a week, and then, bam, we were done. So it went really well and really quickly—it’s a perfect fit. We have technicians in our hangers that are fans of motorsports. We have technicians in our hangers that go home and wrench on cars. We have technicians in our hangers that are here at Summit Motorsports park working on other teams’ cars.
[Constant Aviation and NHRA racers] do the same things We have a huge fabrication shop, a huge composite shop in our aerospace engineering division. We do wiring harnesses and electronic engineering for the Air Force. We build components. My guys and gals in our hangers could build one of these cars. They have the same skillset. They do the same things. And by the way, they’re fans, and by the way, I happen to have had a car.
So that’s how all this matured and came together. I’ve always looked at this class and liked it because it’s a hell of a good bridge. I’ve always thought there’s more we could do with this class to shine a spotlight on it. I.E., the Bounty Program. I pitched that to [NHRA] before I even signed the contract for the sponsorship, right. I mean, that’s something I thought would bring a lot of exposure and get getting a lot of people talking and it seems to work so far.
NHRA: So tell us about the Drag Pak.
Davies: Well, you could probably count on one hand the people are who are gonna make their first full-power pass in a brand new car at a national event. This kid’s going to be one.
NHRA: It’s that new, huh?
Davies: Yeah, I mean this thing hasn’t done the same thing twice. Every time we start it does something different. So it’s absolutely full of surprises. We had had a voltage issue on Tuesday night and were on a hub dyno until 9 p.m.. Then I drove seven hours back to my house with the car and then got three or four hours of sleep and then packed up the coach and the car and drove to here. I got it here so early so I could just relax and chill out for the night.
NHRA: That’s your de facto design freeze right there.
Davies: Exactly. We’re done. It’s going to do what it’s going to do. I want three good passes. That’s all I’m looking for. So we can collect data. We got the Racepack all wired in. We think we’ll get everything settled. We’re collecting good data. It’s all we’re looking for this weekend. Norwalk is an hour and a half from the house and two hours from my corporate headquarters. I’ve got 175+ employees who are going to be on the ground every day this week. That’s fantastic.
NHRA: Who is helping you with the car?
Davies: I’m working with David Barton. He’s tuning it and doing the work. I’m pretty much a one-man show right now. I’ve got a handful of people but I don’t really have a structured crew. But it’s pretty much a one-man band with David helping on the engineering and the tech side.
NHRA: Barton’s return to the Drag Pak?
Davies: Yes. I find it hilarious, when I tell people I’ve got Barton working on the car and they look at me square in the eye and go, ‘What are you doing? That’s not a Mopar guy. That’s a COPO guy.”
NHRA: Sounds like you know the Bartons better than they do.
Davies: Yeah [laughing] I mean, Ray [Barton] was there with us late on Tuesday night watching us trying to get this car straightened out. I learned one valuable lesson over the weekend; I did not listen to Ray once. One time, one time, and 20 minutes later I realized I should have. So I went over to apologize to him and told him that will never happen again. The next time he tells me to do something, I’m just going to do it.