Driving for former NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Hermie Sadler’s team, the nine-year-old from Jonesborough, won the World Karting Association 8-12 year-old Jr. Pro Heavy World Championship race at the Daytona Flat Track outside of the Daytona International Speedway.
Although still in 2013, it was officially the season-opening race of the 2014 season. Like in NASCAR, the Daytona opener is considered the biggest race on the WKA circuit.
“It was really exciting,” Davison said. “And it’s a big deal to be able to drive for Hermie Sadler.”
There seems to be something about East Tennessee racers and their Daytona debuts. Knoxville driver Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 in just his second ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. John King II of Kingsport won the 2012 NASCAR Truck Series opener in his debut.
In just his eighth race in a flat kart and his first attempt at a World Championship race at Daytona, Davison sped to a convincing victory of nearly 10 seconds on the quarter-mile track over runner-up Trynt Lloyd.
The margin came after three early cautions in the 20-lap race. Davison reached back into his memory bank of racing Champ Karts the past three years at places like Beechnut Raceway in Blountville to choose the fastest way of getting over a slick track at Daytona. He perfected a commonly used dirt-track technique to get away from the rest of the field.
“I just learned how to slide it through the turns,” Davison said. “Afte (racing) the Champ Karts, the flat kart for me has been easier to drive.”
His father, Dean, who is a former go-kart and Legends car driver added, “This track was made for flat-track motorcycles and it’s real slick and sandy with limestone and shale. He had to literally drive it. It wasn’t just hold the steering wheel. It was like he was at Bulls Gap coming through the turns sideways, right on the edge of going around.”
As a former racer, Dean Davison likes the focus and commitment his son has shown both on and off the track.
The third-grader is a straight-A student at Providence Academy and the starting point guard for the Tennessee Thunder basketball team, which is currently undefeated in the Erwin YMCA League.
At the race track when many of the boys his age are running up and down the pits, Davison often hangs out with the older guys on his team, asking questions relevent to that day’s racing.
Daytona is not his first major title for Davison, already a two-time Tennessee State Champion. He signed to race for Sadler in August and just three months later, he won the Thanksgiving Thunder at the Georgia Karting Komplex. The annual event in Carnesville, Ga., attracts the largest number of go-kart racers in the country.
In his 8-12 year-old class, Davison finished first out of 66 racers.
At Daytona, his father was worried about the pace Carter was running. He wondered if Carter should slow down, but the young driver kept clicking off fast laps.
“I was wanting him to slow up going into turns one and two because that’s where he was the loosest at,” Dean Davison said. “It was completely turn to the left and then turn to the right to balance the car. It’s usually not what you want to do, but it’s what you have to do on this type of surface to be fast. He just kept hitting his marks and got into a rhythm.”