Bill Davis was taken to court by DaimlerChrysler; He continued to run Dodge machines, without the stickers
In 2021, Bill Davis Racing made the switch to Dodge, fielding Intrepid machines in the NASCAR Cup Series. Petty Enterprises, Ray Evernham and Bill Davis Racing all welcomed Dodge in their famed return to the sport. Within a few years, Dodge disappeared from the sport.
“They had indications that Jeff Gordon was going to come [to Evernham Motorsports] as a driver. Then, that didn’t work out. Ray did a great job with the team,” Bill Davis stated via the Dale Jr Download.
Bill Davis Racing ran their debut season in 1993 with a Ford machine. They then made the switch to Pontiac which the team ran from 1994-2000. For 2001, the team welcomed Dodge with open arms.
“The Pontiac deal was good but it wasn’t great. Dodge came in and offered us more. The problem with the Dodge deal, their engineering wasn’t very deep. They hadn’t raced.”
In 2002, Bill Davis Racing won the Daytona 500. It was the biggest win in the history of the team.
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Dodge opens lawsuit against Bill Davis
Meanwhile, Toyota is looking to enter NASCAR at the NASCAR Truck Series level. Bill Davis operated a Truck team and he helped develop the truck for TRD ahead of their 2004 debut. That ended in a lawsuit…
“Separate company, separate building, separate staff developing the truck for Toyota.”
“They just felt like it was a conflict. I guess it was, they prevailed in court. It certainly could have been settled a lot easier.”
Dodge pulled their support in October 2003 and opened a lawsuit. However, Bill Davis Racing continued to run Dodge bodies and Dodge engines, with little support.
In that same year, the team cut back. They went from two full-time cars to just a single car. However, Davis continued to field Dodge powered machines until 2006, with some limits.
Davis noted that he was waiting, “Until Toyota got ready to go Cup race.”
“They’d cast the engine blocks, ship them in there and they’d crack on the floor.”
In 2006, the court ruled in favor of DaimlerChrysler.
Davis recalled, “We went to court and got whacked. I spent a month in Detroit.”
“It was $5,000,000. It was a whole lot of money. I needed it a lot worse than they did.”
Where did Davis come up with the money to pay that lawsuit?
“Actually, Toyota stepped up and helped us. I mean, we were responsible for it but they financed it.”
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Why didn’t Dodge deal work out in NASCAR?
In 2007, Bill Davis Racing made the switch to Toyotas. By 2008, the team was sold to Triad Racing Technologies who elected to close the team but the continued to manufacture parts for Toyota teams.
In 2012, Brad Keselowski drove his No. 2 Team Penske machine to the NASCAR Cup Series championship while driving a Dodge machine. However, that was the last year Dodge competed in the sport.
Davis explained of why the Dodge deal didn’t work, “Money, experience, understanding of the sport. Toyota, they were racers, Indycar and they had TRD. They were smart enough to come in and listen to how things work down here. Rather than, ‘We’re going to show y’all.’ “
“There was great expectations [for Dodge], coming back to the sport. It just didn’t work, I don’t know, maybe they didn’t have the right team.”
Yet, there’s always rumors of new manufacturers joining NASCAR. Dodge is regularly at the top of that list.
Davis says, “I can’t imagine it would. I’d be awfully surprised.”
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