Executive Q&A Chat with Terry James Davis and Will Simpkins

I had the unique opportunity to interview both Terry James Davis, the visionary leader of Davis Infrastructure, and Will Simpkins ahead of the commencement of the Porsche Carrera Cup.

Regarding Vision Motorsports and Davis Infrastructure, what were your motivations behind sponsoring and getting involved with the motorsports world, Terry?

Terry James Davis: This predates Vision Motorsports so far as our involvement, and that was when Will and I had gotten into the arena of motorsport at the same time.

We first met one another a couple of years ago and have kept up with each other ever since. It was a track event where the two of us were both there alone, paddocked next to each other, and we just started a friendship!

We’ve been keeping up with each other for a few years and seeing each other’s progression through motorsports separately. Then, when Will got further into racing and met Jordan Wallace, I was able to hear about that, almost in real-time as it was happening.

Then in January of this year, James Powers had just joined our team here at Davis Infrastructure and Will had asked to come over and meet with us, and I didn’t know what was necessarily behind it. I knew that he was looking at competing at higher levels, but he came in and said, “Terry, you and I know each other. We have spent time together in the paddock. You know that there’s more out there to be done. You are my ‘Day-1’ guy, and a partnership would mean a lot to me.”

It’s heartwarming. Will said, “Here’s what we’re doing.” And he pitched the entire idea of where it had come from, the genesis, the idea of transitioning from smaller time racing to the Porsche Sprint Challenge. News of those aspirations reached Porsche North America, who reached out to him with the Carrera Cup opportunity – it was a slam dunk.

24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966
24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. (Wikimedia)

It was a no-brainer for us, as a growing company, to be able to have this type of participation alongside a brand that is going onto the stage with the Carrera Cup.

Will’s dedication to success, growth, and excellence is something that we just synergized with, we identified with, and we wanted to be a part of that.

And that’s one of the driving factors for the sponsorship – being part of that team and wanting to see them succeed.

Will Simpkins: I came to Terry not to ask for his sponsorship, but to tell him about the opportunity presented by our newly launched Vision Motorsports. We’ve been friends and have shared a passion for racing and I wanted to share our success with him.

Terry and the Davis Infrastructure leadership were instantly aligned with Vision Motorsports’ purpose and goals. Davis also saw a gap in the marketplace and decided that it needed to be addressed. They demonstrated this by stepping forward as our highest-level sponsor. We are most grateful to Terry for the Davis Infrastructure Platinum Sponsorship.

Terry, have you previously entered sponsorship deals in the past? It’s always interesting to see when a company decides to get involved in the sports world.

We sponsor Western Loudoun Girls’ softball teams and a local woman SCCA Time-Trials driver. We’ve only been around for six years. We are now getting to the point where we can support sports, at higher levels.

But we are seeing people that are out there doing stuff that we want to contribute to and come alongside and help them elevate their game. Coming at this as a marketing opportunity was not something that we had strictly considered until Will approached us and we were able to see multiple things happening at once, multiple business-related opportunities that sponsorships of this caliber can bring.

My daughter played in the Western Loudoun Girls Softball League years ago. We have continued to support them even after her tenure there. And that was not considered at all as part of a marketing opportunity. It was simply giving back to the community.

Will is the first African American team owner for the Carrera Cup and Jordan is the first African American driver. As James stated, they’re tremendously successful men and we want to come alongside folks who are tremendously successful.

If we can be a part of that and we can go out and play cars with our buddies, that’s what we’re going to do.

Will: We want to open racing up for all fans. Over the decades, the fanbase has become more diverse and appealing to a lot of different backgrounds. We want everyone to have the opportunity to embrace their love for motorsports.

In terms of Davis Infrastructure, let’s talk about your history and reach in America.

Terry: What we state for folks who are in this very nuanced and niche offering is that we provide mission-critical power distribution equipment and services.

What does that ultimately mean? We are selling electrical equipment to high-tech facilities such as research & development, laboratories, manufacturing plants, and data centers. Data centers, specifically, are a pretty big deal for us as we are headquartered within the data center hub of the world.

We are providing electrical distribution equipment to large data center clients; Fortune 50 companies.

Being based in Ashburn, Virginia, which is the internet capital of the galaxy – We do most of our business here, but because of the type of customers we interact with, we end up seeing jobs globally.

24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966
24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. (Flickr)

How does the deeply ingrained concept of teamwork, highlighted by the practice of placing plastic army men around the reactor during your time in the Navy, resonate with both professional environments and racing teams?

Terry: Absolutely. That is so deeply ingrained that I forget to highlight it these days!

I was in the Navy before I joined the commercial world. And we would take those army men and superglue them around the reactor. So that was a little bit of superstition.

They would “fight the gremlins” and offer a little bit of good luck.

When I got out of the Navy I would place or hide them in people’s offices, in people’s houses, in restaurants, and on job sites. So, I started to become known as the army man guy, even though I was from the Navy.

But what that did was take a lot of people back to their childhood, and lower stress a little bit; and the industry we deal with can serve as a very high-stress environment at times, wherein the mission-critical equipment cannot drop.

And that is where we start to tie into that element of, okay, what are these army guys symbolizing? It’s a fun way to symbolize teamwork.

People have defined roles and responsibilities and we’re only as strong as our weakest link. Everyone relies on each other within those teams. The same thing comes along here with Vision Motorsports Racing. We, and they, are doing the thing that only we can do.

Jordan Wallace is driving. Will can manage the team. We can come alongside as a sponsor. That’s what we can do. That’s what we are doing. We answered that call.

With Vision, where do you hope to see your partnership five years from now?

Terry: Vision has a vision! They are aptly named, as they’re looking at things like 12 hours of Daytona, within a few years. They are looking at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

What we see is continuing to come alongside as being that ‘day one’ partner. We’re also here on day two. We’re here on day three.

How that spins into the other races, series, and other sanctioning bodies is still to be determined. We’d like to see them win races and we’d like to be partners to help support that.

Will: We are thinking big, not just about winning races right now, but in the next three years, not five years….

It’s bigger than just winning on track. We want people to win in life!

For example. Imagine a program to place a race car simulator in every Boys & Girls Clubs of America sponsored by Vision Motorsports and others. Not only will the kids get a chance to drive in the simulator and learn how to operate race cars, but they will also have unique IDs when they log into the simulator. We will have data on each of the drivers from across the country.

We will follow their progression and give them opportunities to pursue a career as a driver or support staff.

We want to create the next racer that transcends the sport. And they are out there.

Someone needs to create that opportunity for them. We want these kids to experience every level of motorsport and learn about the opportunities around it.

We want the kids to come out and meet Jordan and other teams to give these kids exposure to the sport both Terry and I love and are dedicated to succeeding within.