Canadian drag racer Les Davenport continues to be a highly revered and guiding light for prominent drag racing teams…..
The 68-year old Alberta-based patriarch, whose tuning skills reached legendary status many seasons ago will continue to apply his finesse this season – albeit at his own pace.
Davenport has been inked to a contract extension to oversee the tuning of the potent California-based Napa-sponsored TAFC contender owned by Rick Jackson and driven by fast rising star driver John Lombardo. For Davenport, that gig is just the latest addition to his very long racing resume.
“I had been around their team for a little while before,” Davenport revealed. “Rick (Jackson) has been a friend and Buddy of mine for a long time and last year they were struggling a bit — so I began to give them a hand, part time. We started out together at the Joliet race and we made a lot of changes to the car there. As it turned out we ended up winning both the Jegs All Stars event and then the Route 66 Nationals.”
“My stance and goal has always been to help get a race team’s set-up right and to then provide a plan with regard to how to proceed,” Les added. “My objective is to simply be a teacher — get any team I’m associated with to a place where they can then run their own race car successfully. With Rick and John I’ll be around at many events this season – but the truth is I just don’t want to be on the road all the time — because I have some other interests.”
Les’s “other interests” includes his own A/FD which is driven by his son Ryan – a truly dominating class car within the NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series as well as a collaboration with fellow Canadian Jirka Kaplan’s TAFC (based from Calgary). But Les’s primary personal focus for 2015 is something very different and very fast.
He continues to trek forward with his much anticipated Bonneville land speed racer in conjunction with his partner Marlo Treit. If everything goes according to plan — in August of 2015 – they (with Les as the driver) will continue a goal of topping the 500 mph barrier (!) with their twin-engined supercharged on alcohol machine.
“The Bonneville attempt is going to take a lot of focus — so in fact I will be backing off our schedule this season for our A/F dragster,” he continued. “Our speed record car is nearly ready and it will take up a lot of my time. I’ve made four test runs in it so far and it went 280 mph. Our target is to go 500 mph – however I don’t expect that will happen this year, I think that 430-440 mph is more realistic. But on paper it should go over 500 mph — if we get everything right.”
While Davenport remains highly motivated he also is very realistic and calculated about his racing career.
“I’m getting older and everything in life has a timeline,” he laughed. “So this (speed record attempts) needs to happen sooner then later. Because of that this is something that is a personal priority.”
For more information on the Treit & Davenport speed record project visit: www.Target550.com
Post and photos by: Bruce Biegler