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011800a4.jpg (29995 bytes)INTERVIEW WITH BROCK DAVIDSON
Rider of the Team Suzuki Sport Superbike
Story by Marty Kane - Photos Matt Polito

Brock Davidson is a factory supported rider running under the Team Suzuki Sport banner for American Suzuki. In 1999 he finished off in the AMA/Prostar series third in Streetbike Shootout, tenth in Pro Superbike, and seventh in 600 SuperSport. He also grabbed the #1 plate in IDBA’s Pro Street East class, and topped off his season by grabbing the AMA/Prostar National Record for speed in the Pro Superbike category.

He’s been involved with motorcycles since age five, almost 30 years ago. His racing background includes NHRA Pro Stock, Prostar Pro Mod, Pro Superbike, 600 SuperSport, Streetbike Shootout, ET, and a myriad of other categories.

WHAT IS THE BEST YOU HAVE FINISHED IN YOUR ADULT RACING CAREER?

In 1996, I earned the number one plate in the AMA/Prostar Cycle World Magazine Unlimited Streetbike Shootout class aboard David Garner’s Suzuki Katana.

HOW DID YOU OBTAIN YOUR TEAM SUZUKI SPONSORSHIP?

I did something that no other competitor in the AMA/Prostar series had done up until that point; I asked. They responded by asking me to put something in writing to them, and I did. I simply outlined my desires, my plans and where I wanted to go in the sport. They liked it, and it started off small in the first year with a parts credit… it grew from there.

At that point, I had been the first drag racer to ever sign a contract with Suzuki, and to the best of my knowledge that includes all of the top name Pro Stockers over in NHRA who race under the Suzuki banner.

LET’S TALK ABOUT 1999…

In 1998 I finished #6 in 600 SuperSport, and #3 in Streetbike Shootout.

In 1999, Team Suzuki came aboard with greater support and we added a third bike to our campaign; a GSX-R750 Pro Superbike. I was very happy to be involved with Suzuki, and I’ve always been considered a "Suzuki" guy, so to be considered a true factory, is probably one of the most exciting things in my entire career.

The disqualification episode was unfortunate. It’s nobodies fault by my own… and it’s time people know the

011800a1.jpg (40105 bytes)
Davidson faces off with Billy Vose in Pro Superbike.
Note the backfire flames on Vose's bike under the bodywork!

truth as to what happened.

The three 600cc bikes we had in our camp last year (Ryan’s, Dustin’s and my own), were all performing all very well in Rockingham. I felt that I was right on the edge of a performance break through, with some cam timing changes that I had been making days before Indy. I went too far during a dyno run, and the valves collided with the pistons as the result.

I did not have any spare parts for the ’99 engine that would work and there was not enough time to get the parts sent out. Even if there was enough time, most of my parts credit had been burned up with my Superbike, and a matter of pride kept me from asking.

To compound the pressure, I knew that a Suzuki representative would be at the event, and I had to look good. So, I made one of the worst decisions of my entire life, and replaced the part with one from my 1997 bike. If anybody knows much about sportbikes, they will know that each year, these things get faster and more powerful, and that you do not pickup any performance advantage by retrofitting older parts onto the bike, and in Indy my performance was way off of my standard to prove that point.

Because my bike was slower, it made me ride better I ended up in the semi-final round where it came down to three motorcycles. Had I not accidentally deep staged against Rickey, I would have earned my way into my first 600 final round and who knows what might of happened.

I elected to tell the truth and not try to fool anybody when asked to tear down my bike for Prostar officials in the standard post race tear down. There is a good chance that I might have cruised right through – because the part looked and felt like what it should have been, but I did not want to be dishonest about it… and I simply admitted my sin and took my punishment.

011800a2.jpg (31148 bytes)
In 1999 Davidson suffered two major nitrous explosions
aboard his Pro Superbike entry

WHAT ARE THE HIGH AND LOW POINTS OF YOUR CAREER?

As I mentioned earlier, gaining a major factory sponsorship from Suzuki is no doubt my highlight thus far. The low point was when I experienced my second nitrous backfire of the season in Atco. My program went from jubilation and excitement (because I had figured out a majority of the challenges that I have been presented with thus far) and in one single pass it all went away because of a slight mechanical problem.

It caught me completely off guard, and was the closest to death I have ever been drag racing. Thus far, nothing but my feet had ever touched the drag strip surface… and in 1999 my rear end touched down twice [in starting line mishaps]. The Atco explosion was so severe, that the concussion of the blast knocked me out for a few moments, and it frightened me!

Another high point, is having Ryan Schnitz ride one of my spare bikes in ’99. He learned so well, and soaked up everything I taught him so perfectly. As the result, he’s now a factory supported racer (Kawasaki Team Green) for 2000, and has optimized every racers dream of coming into a class like 600 SuperSport, doing well right off the bat, and earning factory recognition.

WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO YOUR SUCCESS?

Ridiculous amounts of work, development, thought and practice.

The faster classes that I race (Superbike and Streetbike Shootout) have two parts; riding and bike performance.

In 600 SuperSport however, there is very little horsepower difference between the #1 and #30 qualifier, it all boils down to how good you are on race day. There are very few and very limited modifications that you can do to the bike itself, so it is all about my having to make a perfect pass – and our teams ability to make minute tuning changes.

Yoshimura gave us some assistance by sharing some road race technology with us, and the results worked very well.

I had three bikes run out of our camp for the 600’s; my own, Dustin Clark and Ryan Schnitz’, and as we saw with the Team Green camp, having more data to work with helps produce more consistency in the overall scheme of things.

DID JUMPING ON AND OFF THREE BIKES – IN THREE CATEGORIES – TAKE A TOLL ON YOU?

In some respects, it makes you a better rider. For example; for the past two years in Indy, in the amount of time it took me to ride back from the scales aboard my 600 SuperSport entry, my crewman had my Streetbike Shootout entry fired up and waiting for me in the water box. In 1998, I had to leave my bike on the return road, jump over the fence, and jump aboard in order to make my pass in time against Keith Dennis.

It is very hard to prepare yourself mentally, with that little time to focus between rounds. So yes, it is hard from the riders perspective.

From the mechanical standpoint, it causes massive confusion. I do all of my own engine building – though my crew does an incredible job at the events… the thought process all falls back to my shoulders eventually.

011800a5.jpg (34118 bytes)
Brock Davidson aboard his
1999 Suzuki GSX-R600 SuperSport

In Chicago, I actually damaged the engine in my Suzuki Bandit because I made a tuning change that I should have never made. I did not realize what I had done until the ride home – at which point I slapped myself in the head.

The three bikes are so different, there is no mechanical overlap which gives me any advantage. The 600cc bike in fact, is so different from the other two, that it actually complicates things too much… and that is one of the reasons I am not going to continue with that effort in 2000.

It is too hard to be consistent and competitive, when you have to look down to see what motorcycle you are on, and you have to focus yourself in a such a few short seconds.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 2000?

I will be running my Suzuki 1200 Bandit in the Streetbike Shootout class in Prostar, the Worlds Fastest Streetbike class NMCA, and will possibly attend several IDBA events because I really enjoy the atmosphere at those events.

I will be focusing intently on my GSX-R750 Pro Superbike, because I want the work that I did last year to prove itself in 2000. I also want to bring the #1 plate home to Suzuki, because they deserve it!

IN YOUR RACING CAREER, HAS THERE BEEN ANY MENTORS IN YOUR LIFE?

No, not really. I am in an interesting position because I do my own building, tuning and riding. There have been a number of people that I have a tremendous respect for in the industry, who I have worked with that I really feel are "tops".

From the mechanical standpoint, Ray Belushi is my "go to" guy, and his accomplishments in the street categories stand apart from any other. He’s forgotten more then I can ever hope to know, and I’m proud to have him as a friend.

Recently, because of my factory involvement, I have gained the assistance of Don Sakakura and Yoshimura. Their technology and expertise has become such a huge asset to our team, and the advice he has given us has allowed us to advance to a whole new level. I can not even begin to explain it, but believe me... it has really helped us.

Also, I think everybody would agree that Byron [Hines} is the guru and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for where our sport is today. I do not actually know him, but I do admire and respect him for what he has done.

From the rider point of view, I worked with Keith Dennis for several years in various capacities (tuner, engine builder, and friend), and I believe he has the most natural talent on a motorcycle without wheelie bars. His ability to control the clutch and ride the bike is unbelievable.

IT’S THE OFF SEASON… WHAT IS THIS TIME OF THE YEAR LIKE FOR YOU?

I try to make up for lost and missed time with my family. We are here in the midwest, it’s cold… and it’s snowing, so since I am not into snowmobiling… there is not much in the way of motorsports going on around here. I concentrate on engine development and making plans for the following season. My first priority though is doing anything I can with them [his family], and making sure they know that they are my priority.

I have been married to Dody since 1986, and we were actually high school sweethearts. We met in 1981, and have been together ever since. My daughter Tiffany [10 years old] has been riding since she was three, and my son Brody [5 years old] actually took me for a ride on a 50cc Suzuki 4 wheeler when he was 17 months old. I guess you can say we are the basic motorcycling family.

IS YOUR FAMILY INVOLVED WITH YOU IN RACING?

They are involved in every capacity that they can be, but because of sports and school obligations, they can only make it to a very limited number of races each year, but every other part of this thing they are involved in it with me.

If my wife did not put up with, or appreciate, my involvement in motorsports… I simply would not be, so it is all because of her grace and love for what is important to me that I am.

Our family vacation happened to fall the week before last year’s Chicago event. My bike was not ready for the race, so instead of throwing either aside, she agreed that I would drive the truck to our vacation spot - with her

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Brock Davidson aboard his Suzuki 1200 Bandit
in the Streetbike Shootout class.

and the kids following behind in the car. She allowed me to finish the bike while on vacation, so I could race at that event. It’s important to both of us, and that is why it works so well.

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WOULD LIKE RACE FANS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AWAY FROM THE RACES?

The only thing I can think of, is that I am very shy. Those who know me might chuckle, but I am a man of few words if I do not know you… and that can give people the wrong impression I think. Once I get started and loosen up though, it’s hard to keep me quiet so I think that impression rapidly changes.

WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

Obviously my family… but motorcycles are something that has intrigued me since my childhood.

When I was young, our family was not as well off as most families. Motorcycling was something which helped me to define myself. It was like my own erector set… some kids played with toys, I played with old bikes, which I hoped to make run someday. Eventually that happened… and so I started selling them, and upgrading to a better machine to repair.

It’s kind of funny… there is an old cliche, the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. I started out then with an old junk Bonanza mini bike which could not run, and now we’re playing with the latest high tech sportbikes!

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?

Until 1998 I worked in the special machining industry, and actually quit that job to go racing and build a business around racing. I have always been a problem solver, and if I could not purchase something that would fix a problem I had with my bikes… I would develop and make my own parts, and then sell them to anybody who needed them. Now that I am a factory supported racer, I want to help others via my Suzuki connection.

Though one of the reasons I sold them to others was to recoup some of my time and engineering costs, my main goal was to help the sport grow and help save other people money and broken parts. If I had a problem, that meant others would… and if I could possibly save one person a headache, that made it all worth while to me.

In 1998 I started Brock Davidson Enterprises (BDE), and I specialize in developing and manufacturing late model sportbike performance products. My focus stretches into all sections of the industry… and have actually helped develop many of the parts used and sold by major companies in the industry today.

Things like the Showerhead distribution block that Nitrous Express sells, the Hayabusa Clutch Mod that Schnitz sells, and many other parts in peoples catalogs today. If it is something that people need to be competitive… I want to have a hand in it. Occasionally, I get outrun by my own parts… but it’s better to help the sport grow and have a whole bunch of people to race against – then to have nobody there and have some really cool stuff on my bikes.

I have received some flack from others about giving new racers a shortcut, and having them "not paying their dues" by breaking parts and figuring it out themselves… but that thinking frustrates me.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF RACING?

I spend a bunch of time with my kids in their sporting events… but I am not really involved in anything else. I do run at least 3 to 5 miles at a time, every day in fact, to keep my sanity and to allow my to maintain my race weight of 140 lbs [his normal bodyweight is 175 lbs].

WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC DO YOU LIKE?

I like all types… believe it or not my favorite is hard rock. I consider Metallica "engine building music".

WHAT TYPE OF MOVIES DO YOU LIKE?

Whatever my family wants me to go see with them. I basically enjoy action and intrigue movies, and we are a horror movie "buff" family… which does not make me proud as a parent… but it’s what we like to do.

My wife and I are both known to run around during our daughters slumber parties, and being the "cool parents" who will put a small scare into the kids from time to time.

WHAT WAS YOUR BEST EVENT IN 1999?

Even though I had been disqualified in Indy [in the 600 SuperSport category], that was my best event because I ran my quickest pass of the year aboard my Suzuki 1200 Bandit, against Keith Dennis. Though he ran a national record 8.14-second run and beat me, I did everything right and I simply got out run… which I can davidson_brock_992.jpg (31512 bytes)handle because he earned his win light. It was the quickest side by side pass in the history of the class (8.14 to 8.21-seconds). Ironically, the Bandit is least on the race day lineup in my sponsorship agreement Suzuki, so the least of our focus goes into it!

A very close second, would be the World Finals in Gainesville, because I got my GSX-R750 Superbike to a level of being competitive in the class, and I grabbed the MPH record [166.45 MPH] away from Rickey [Gadson] and Rob Muzzy. Those guys are top dog, so being able to do that, was one of the most fulfilling moments I have ever had in the sport.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM BROCK DAVIDSON IN THE FUTURE?

Far more concentration on the bikes, better consistency and performance.

I got myself in trouble last year running so many motorcycles. This time last year, I did not have a truck or trailer, and our racing program basically did not exist. I worked my crew so hard getting ready for last season, that I felt bad all year long. This season, we are coming in ready for action, and are dedicating ourselves to simply being the best we can be, and are reaping the benefits of our hard work last season by starting on a great note.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE HIGH AND LOW POINTS OF THE PAST DECADE FOR THE SPORT?

Without a doubt… watching Elmer’s 6.06-second run at the Indy Prostar event was the best. Obviously… one of the lowest points was the loss of his life. Same said… how about John Myers, you could not have met a better guy… and the sport will always suffer without him.

The other high point in my mind would be the additional involvement in the sport from the OEM’s, Honda, Kawasaki especially, and Suzuki. To have Suzuki come into the sport was really notable to me, because if you go down the qualifying list at any event… they already have market domination in so many classes. They did not have to be here, they chose to, and we’re all going to be better because of it.

When I first got involved in the sport, one of the people who helped me [Marty Blades] was killed in a racing incident. That was the first time that the danger of the sport became real for me, because it hit so close to home. One week we were working on my bike together at his shop, the next I was attending his funeral – and it really made me question if I really wanted to continue in the sport.

Most recently, the loss of Scott [Grigaliunas] and his wife, just is such a hard one to swallow. He was the greatest guy, and I had nothing but respect for him. News of their deaths came as an absolute shock to everybody in the industry, because he was the nicest, and most humble person you would ever meet – both on and off of the track. He represented our sport the way I wish all of us could. His being the first to open a door with an OEM, gave me the reason I had enough nerve to ask Suzuki… so had it not been for him, I would possibly not be a factory rider today.

IF YOU WERE TO PICK THE PRODUCT WHICH MADE THE MOST IMPACT IN RECENT RACING HISTORY… WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Without a doubt, the Schnitz Progressive Controller. It simply gave every racer a more level playing field, and gave total tuning ability to anybody with nitrous system on his bike.

IF YOU WERE NOT RACING SUZUKI’S – WHAT BRAND WOULD YOU RACE?

Are there other brands? Really though, in racing past… Suzuki has dominated almost every class, and I believe totally in their products and plan on doing the best that can be done with them, in every class I compete in. I could race other brands if I chose to, but I see no reason.

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT TO SHARE THAT I HAVE NOT ASKED YOU ABOUT?

One part of racing that really bothers me, is other racers only caring about their own needs. Instead of caring about the entire class being competitive. The primary reason I am not racing 600 SuperSport in 2000, is because of what happened during a rules planning meeting held during the Indy Prostar event.

Questions about how the class could be changed to allow other brands to be more competitive were asked, including some from an American Suzuki representative. Since the group was over 80% Kawasaki rider dominated, a show of hands voted the changes down, and that is ridiculous. No Kawasaki-brand rider would cut his own throat, and hence Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki are all suffering as the result.

A comment was even made to me by one of the competitors that if I can’t be competitive aboard my bike, I should switch brands and that nobody forced me to ride what I do. Well, moving to another brand is not an option for me, so I’ll focus on what I can do well right now, and continue development and anticipate my return to the class when timing is right. The sport will suffer though, because that class is the factory supported calling card for Prostar, and Suzuki not having factory riders in the field will make it less high profile.

Another thing, occasionally Suzuki receives some flaming for not putting on the show on Manufacturers Row that Kawasaki does. Even though they are not bringing out semi trailers to the races, they have a great support mechanism behind the scenes, and very rarely turn their back to any rider within striking distance of a championship.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE; I LOVE DRAG RACING BECAUSE….

I love drag racing because not only has it been an area of enjoyment for myself and my family over the years, it is the type of sport that anybody can compete in and do very well. I would not know where or how to start in road racing, and Football is not an option… Drag Racing is the kind of sport where anybody can take a bike out to their local track, and with some very basic safety equipment have a great time, and be very competitive.

It’s a great time, and there’s nothing like it. Most people do not know how easy it is to get into, and they never know how much fun it can be until they try it.

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE YOU WANT TO THANK?

My crew… an unbelievable group of people. All of them have the same duty; to relieve as much pressure from me as they can, so that I can concentrate on my riding, and to help me prepare championship caliber motorcycles.

Marc Huelsman is a mechanical engineer, and has put so much effort and dedication into my program that I can not ever express my gratitude. His wife Tina is our "data girl" and records everything that happens on every run. They had a baby recently, so her coming out to the events had been restricted… but she’s given us the data we need to examine ourselves and advance from each run.

Tony Wiford is responsible for the Bandit, and helps out with the other bikes as well.

David and Jimmy Leo alternate between video duties, and are our team firefighters, because if there’s need, they are diving over each other to take care of it.

I also wanted to give a special thanks to Dustin Clark and Mike Davis. Both have jumped in whenever they could, and without Mike’s help, I would not have gotten back onto my 750 after the blowup in Rockingham.

My mom and dad have been my biggest supporters for the longest time. Without them getting me that first mini bike, I would not have made it this far today. My mom was my first supporter to go racing, and even today helps me with every aspect she can be involved in. She’s even been known to flow nitrous jets for me!

My sponsors include, of course, American Suzuki, Yoshimura R&D and Competition Accessories. There are many others though behind the scenes who help us do what we do. Those include Bates Leathers, Airtech Streamlining, Cometic Gaskets, Cryolabs, Dunlop Tire, Dynatek, Dyno Bob Sloane, Dynojet Research, Alex Fornerelli, Fox Racing Shocks, Lang Hindle, JE Pistons, Oil Extreme, Larry Zumbrun, Lockhart-Phillips, McIntosh Machine & Fabrication, Mickey Thompson Tires, Motion Pro, Motorcycle Performance Magazine, MTC Engineering, Nitrous Express, Ohio Trailer Supply, Orient Express, Performance Tire, R&D Motorsports, Matt Polito, RC Components, Schnitz Racing, Sprocket Specialists, Street & Competition, Sudco. Total Seal, Motorex, Venture Unlimited, Web Cam, D&L Machine and Capitol Precision.

I have to throw in a plug for Orient Express and R&D Transmission especially, because together they have supplied me with parts which simply do not fail under pressure!

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