While we might steer clear of a sport that took the life of our grandfather, race-car drivers Alex and Will Davison, brothers, and their younger cousin, James, have chosen to do just the opposite. In October the two brothers will once again attempt to conquer a mountainóMount Panorama in the New South Wales town of Bathurstódriving powerful V8 Supercars.
The boys’ love of motor-racing undoubtedly stemmed from their father and an uncle, who were raised in a family where motor-racing was synonymous with life, an everyday activity. Dad Richard and uncle Jon literally lived life in the fast lane, with both dabbling in motor racing, so little wonder their offspring followed in their footsteps.
Their Melbourne-born grandfather, the late Lex (Alexander) Davison, was a successful businessman whose diverse interests ranged from a General Motors dealership to an Aberdeen Angus stud and dairy, plus a profitable shoe business. Significantly, Lexís passion for motor-racing began after inheriting his fatherís magnificent collection of motor vehicles.
Cousin James, 24, is not involved with V8s, choosing open-wheelers on American circuits, and has already tasted success in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship.
Alex, 30, the elder Davison brother, has several notable achievements to his name after his initial go-kart racing introduction. He decided to race sports cars overseas, specifically in the Porsche Carrera Cup, chalking up several wins on famous tracks stretching from Hockenheim to Indianapolis. Another notable achievement was a second place in the GT2 class in the Le Mans Series, in 2008.
Back in Australia, he clinched the Australian Carrera Cup title in 2004, with a dominant performance. But V8 Supercars was always Alexís dream. However, disappointment was followed by frustration with an under-budget team, so he headed back to Germany and the more successful Porsche racing.
From 2005 he took the occasional opportunity of a V8 Supercar endurance drive, with pleasing results, which culminated in a full-time contract with the top-rated Stone Brothers Racing from 2009. In Darwin this year, Alex clinched his first-ever pole position, and with the Bathurst 1000 looming, he has high hopes of a good result.
“My confidence was knocked around by my V8 initiation. Iíve got a bit of a point to prove now,î he said. ìI want to show everyone that I havenít forgotten how to drive.”
Little brother Will, also a third-generation racer, spent his childhood karting with the likes of current V8 Supercar rival and reigning champion, Jamie Whincup, who, off the track, at least, is Willís best friend.
Will graduated to Formula Ford, winning the Australian Championship in 2001, before Europe beckoned and he entered the tough world of British Formula Three, where he competed against hotshots such as Lewis Hamilton, and fellow Aussies Ryan Briscoe and Will Power.
Despite strong parental support and encouragement, facing up to the harsh reality of life and becoming more and more disillusioned, he made the heartbreaking decision to return home at the end of 2004.
“I know I put my best foot forward when I raced over there, but I was controlled by lack of finance,î said Will. ìI waved goodbye to my dream of entering Formula 1.”
He returned to Australia, where after an uncertain start, fellow battler Dick Johnson threw the promising young talent a career lifeline in 2006.
“This is me!” said the new, enthusiastic V8 Supercars convert at the time. “I’m going to settle down and get into this. It looks like fun.”
He moved to the Gold Coast, where Johnsonís Ford team was based. Unfortunately, Johnson’s team was then struggling to stay at the front of the field, but after his pot-holed road in Europe, the rookie was determined to succeed. So with Dick Johnsonís blessing, he switched camps to the high-profile Holden Racing Team (HRT), filling the vacancy left by Mark Skaifeís departure.
Numerous podium placings with HRT throughout 2009 proved an enormous confidence boost for Will. His year culminated in the coveted victory at Bathurst, while he battled with best mate Whincup for overall V8 Supercar Championship honours.
ìIíd be very proud if I could win Bathurst again,î he said, ìboth for the team and as a tribute to my grandfather, who won a Grand Prix at Bathurst 52 years ago.î Itís a sentiment shared by both brothers.
But Bathurst is no walk in the park and a good year on the shorter circuits doesnít imply a Bathurst success. Winning any competition is tough, but this iconic event, steeped in tradition and always surrounded by turmoil and trauma, is the holy grail of motor sport in Australia. When the flag falls, on the track itís every man for himself, with family loyalties suppressed.
On the track, the boys keep up the traditional Holden versus Ford rivalry, and while brotherly love might appear to go out the window, they’re always supportive of one another.
“We’ve driven in the same team before, and now weíre definitely in opposition camps, but thereís a strong family bond that keeps us together,” explained Alex.
And while 2010 has been a difficult year on the track for the brothers Davison, theyíre determined to once again do their best for their teams and family name, in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. Defeat isnít part of the Davison make-up.