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Garrett Van Camp, who rebuilt the Davis Special, talks with Joyce Davis (middle) and Kathy Davis at the unveiling of the racecar at Mack Brown Chevrolet Saturday. Photo by Steve Behr

Originally published: 2013-05-18 17:30:57
Last modified: 2013-05-18 17:31:40

1951 Davis Special racecar rolls into town

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

It was a moment that Joyce Davis has waited for since 1997.

Friday night, the Davis Special finally returned to Boone -- in one piece.

Her husband, Bob Davis, built the racecar in 1951.

After stops in Waynesville, N.C., Memphis, Phoenix and Michigan, the car was brought back to Boone by Garrett Van Camp, who restored the roadster.

Van Camp brought the car to the Davis' house Friday night.

It was put on display at Mack Brown's Chevrolet dealership on Saturday.

An estimated 100 people visited the Davis family at Mack Brown's to remember the car and the man who originally built it.

"This is well worth it bringing it down," Van Camp said. "We came down here in 1997, two years after we bought the car, we spent about two or three hours with Joyce when we got pictures of the car.
We stayed in town and had a really nice time."

The Davis family was first to see the car at their house on Friday.

The restoration job done by Van Camp was everything they anticipated.

"I cried," Joyce Davis said. "He got here just before that rain and my whole family was there. We were just delighted. He was so good to us. He opened it up and we were able to get in there and see, and it was overwhelming."

Kathy Davis, a teacher at Watauga High School and the daughter of Bob and Joyce Davis, said seeing the car was better than what she anticipated.

"It is more than I expected," Kathy Davis said. "It's been absolutely fabulous. What a passionate work that Garrett has put into it. All of the stories about my dad have been absolutely incredible about this piece of machinery."

Bob Davis built the Davis Special shortly after he returned from the navy in World War II. He was stationed in California at the start of the war and liked the cars that were raced out west.

Davis used parts from several different cars available to him, and put together a racecar that was a fixture at nearby tracks and mountain climbs.

Tom Lawrence, a former reporter and manager at WBT in Charlotte and WRAL in Raleigh, remembered watching Davis build the car.

Lawrence did not drive the car since he did not have a license, but he remembers riding in it when his friend Dicky was allowed to drive it.

"We would go over there and watch Bob work on the car," Lawrence said. "He had so much faith in us that once he got it running, he actually let us take it out one day on Blowing Rock Road. It's a ride I'll never forget."

Van Camp and his wife, Maggie, will visit his daughter, Allison, in Mooresville for a week before heading back to Michigan.