Davis moving up from sportsman to modified

Published Jul 4, 2018 at 4:00pm

For a guy that started racing just seven years ago, Ronnie Davis III, also known as “RDIII”, has already accomplished more than a lot of drivers have in decades of racing.

Davis, 22, who lives in Memphis is the driver of the No. 32R small block modified. Since starting in the sportsman ranks in 2011 his driving career has gone vertical. To his credit he has 42 feature race wins and seven sportsman track championships between Brewerton and Fulton speedways— including back-to-back championships at both tracks in 2016 and 2017.

After dominating the sportsman division, “RDIII” was presented the opportunity to pilot a small block modified near the end of the 2017 season.

“We (Ronnie and his dad Ron Davis) had been helping out Joe Abbass with his racing (program),” pointed out “RDIII.” Abbass drives the No. 97 sportsman that looks like the twin of No. 32R.

Abbass decided to put a 358 motor in his Bicknell chassis and have “RDIII” take on the small block modified division. Solid runs with the small block at the end of 2017 made the decision really easy for Davis to move up from the sportsman division and go small block modified racing this season.

Abbass offered a new Bicknell chassis and a Gordon Racing Engines motor and the Davis team went to work.

The young driver is finding out that there is a lot of experience, top to bottom, in the modified division. Driving to the front of a sportsman feature is a whole lot different than trying to go forward in a modified.

“Experience is a big thing with top guys like Larry (Wight) and Jimmy (Phelps),” pointed out Davis.

Growing up and spending a lot of time at race tracks “RDIII” watched his racing hero Billy Decker slice through traffic. Decker is a multiple track champion all over DIRT tracks and multiple time winner of Super DIRT Week.

“I was always amazed at how super smooth Decker is,” stated Davis. “I always liked (Matt) Sheppard too. My dad raced sportsman in 1998 and 99. Won one race and got out.”

Since the start of the season it was very evident to me that he was going to win a race sooner than later. Talk about smooth, Davis runs the extreme low groove where “no one else can get to” and gets fantastic drive off leaping ahead of cars that have washed up the track. He does his work very quietly until there are about five laps left in the feature and suddenly you notice that he’s in the top five. 

Davis reminds me a lot of “The Natural” Dale Planck — smooth, smart and patient— most of the time.

“Be patient and know when to go,” echoed Davis. “I’m learning where to use the power.”

The learning curve for Davis has been pretty steady. To no ones surprise “RDIII” found victory lane at Fulton Speedway on May 26 winning his first modified feature.

Even after the win and the great runs they had put together, the set up guys, Ronnie and his dad, had to work on things. 

“We’re trying different stuff,” admitted “RDIII.” “It’s really nice when we can roll the bottom.” That means he places the car on the only spot of the track that has some grip left and when he gets in the throttle the car blasts off the corner.

One night at Brewerton during a feature race Davis tagged a yuke tire with his left nerf bar and when he hit it it set the car perfectly to get a great run off the corner. It actually made his drive off faster. I thought he did on purpose but “RDIII” totally denied that.

Davis, a technical consultant at Bibbens Sales & Service in Weedsport, has a fantastic team and support from his mom, Janet Terramiggi, girlfriend Tess Button, his brother Jake Davis and, of course, his dad Ron who oversees the racing of both “RDIII” and Jake who recently zipped off a couple sportsman novice wins of his own.

“RDIII” and Ron both “make the set up calls” at the track and both tirelessly maintain the car.

“RDIII” brought along his car sponsors on the immaculately prepared modified: Xtreme Auto Recovery, SJP+ Scott Jefferys Performance Plus, Mohawk Northeast, Amsterdam Trailer Repair, Bibbens Sales & Service, Superior Bearing & Supply, Danceography of Syracuse, Gordon Racing Engines, Bicknell Racing Products, Paradise Pools and, of course, Abbass.

The Davis team will definitely be at Super DIRT Week again at the end of the season and they are trying to put together a big block deal to race at the World Finals in Charlotte in November.

For now Brewerton and, RDIII’s favorite track, Fulton Speedway are his home on Friday and Saturday nights.

So get out there and enjoy the gift of our “grass roots” tracks and keep an eye out for the 32R.

See you at the races.