Terrell Davis, a Hoosier transplant who since age three has made his home in Rutherford County, is a member of fading fraternity: a racing journalist.
Middle Tennessee was once a racing hotbed – from local competition on a dozen area bull rings to the top series in NASCAR and IndyCar – but in recent years the sport has declined. Today it is struggling to survive.
But as long as there’s any racing news left to report, Terrell will be there, notepad and microphone in hand.
“I’d like to say I do it for the money,” he says, “but since we don’t make a great deal of money I guess I really do it because I like to be involved in the sport.”
Davis is owner and editor of Middle Tennessee Racing News, a Smyrna-based newspaper he founded in 1995. MTRN is a national rarity: a full-time publication devoted primarily to stock car racing.
In addition to his newspaper, Davis has also hosted a series of racing radio shows over the years. His current venture is “Pit Pass,” carried on Franklin station WAKM. For decades WAKM has been Middle Tennessee’s premier station for NASCAR racing. Terrell’s show is broadcast Wednesdays at 5:06 p.m. and net-cast worldwide on www.wakmworldwide.com
“We cover a mix of local racing and NASCAR,” Davis says. “From Daytona to the Fairgrounds and from Talladega to Highland Rim, if it’s racing we’ll talk about it.”
The hour-long show includes news updates, commentary and guest call-ins. Callers range from aspiring young wannabes to Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and two-time Daytona 500 champ Sterling Marlin.
Davis is joined by co-host Larry Weakley, a former track announcer and son of legendary Grand Ole Opry announcer Harold Weakley.
Davis was introduced to stock car racing at the old Smyrna Speedway. He began covering the sport as a reporter for the Franklin Review Appeal around 1980 and became hooked.
Terrell’s enthusiasm for, and dedication to, the sport is evident in his writing and broadcasting. And nobody is more tuned into the area racing scene. A dozen years ago when all of Middle Tennessee was abuzz about Dover Motorsports’ plan to build a giant racetrack in the area, every media outlet was scurrying to find out where.
Terrell was the first to discover the location -- in Gladeville, on the Rutherford-Wilson County line. He regularly scores scoops on ownership changes and other developments at Fairgrounds Speedway, Highland Rim Speedway and Riverview Speedway in Carthage.
More and more, Terrell’s racing paper and radio show are THE place to go for breaking news as the so-called “mainstream media” has all but quit covering the sport.
“I still believe there’s an audience for local racing,” Davis says. “There’s no question that it has been hanging on by a thread in this area, but the outlook is better now than it was this time last year. As for NASCAR, even though it isn’t racing here anymore there’s still lots of fans that follow the sport and are interested in what’s going on.”
Davis is assisted in his racing enterprises by wife Gracey, “the REAL race fan the family,” according to Terrell.
“Gracey has a great personality and knows more of the racers’ families than I do,” he says. “Her encouragement at times has kept my frustrations in check.”
How dedicated to racing are the Davises? When they get a break from working in racing, they relax by going to a race. Back in the winter they attended the annual Snowball Derby race in Pensacola, Fla., “just hanging out at the track and having fun.”
“We like the sport and we like being around the people involved in it,” Terrell says. “I guess that’s why we keep going with the Racing News and the radio show – we enjoy it. Maybe that’s the best reason there is to do anything.”