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DVM in overdrive


Dr. Marc Davis knows his formulas - the drug-related kind prescribed to ailing animals and those necessary to win a CART race.

Dr. Marc Davis knows his formulas - the drug-related kind prescribed to ailing animals and those necessary to win a CART race.

Dr. Marc Davis, racing under the name Davis Motorsports, at Pikes Peak International Raceway, Fountain, Colo., during the SCCA Championship Season.

Davis, in veterinary practice since 1986 at the Glens Animal and Bird Hospital in Lakewood, Colo., shifted gears with a self-titled "second career" in 1997 - behind the wheel of an open-wheeled, fenderless vehicle, the Formula Mazda, to compete in the Formula series.

"I've always been interested in racing and cars. It was a lifelong dream of mine," he says.

His racing dreams date to high school and early college when Davis raced snowmobiles. While at Kansas State University studying for his DVM, for lack of cash, Davis temporarily abandoned his race car fantasy.

Barely 10 years out of school, Davis adjusted his helmet for the fast track by taking courses at several driving schools. He trained on the Formula Mazda, which resembles an Indy car, while operating several companion animal practices and overseeing 50 employees in the Denver area.

By 2000, Davis won his first racing championship - the Sports Car Club of America Rocky Mountain race, and has placed in other races.

He's also whittled his veterinary business, to one practice, The Glens Animal and Bird Hospital, Lakewood, Colo., with two employees - himself and a technician, principally because of lack of time.

Davis' passion for four wheels blends well with his career treating four-legged companions.

Dr. Marc Davis

Several times a year, his hotrod graces the front of the hospital. And clients have been known to cheer him at the races.

"Clients like to learn about your personal life, and racing is an issue they enjoy talking about," he says.

Although racing has not directly translated to added profits, Davis enjoys the excitement it adds to his personal life.

Revving his engines

"Racing is something I look forward to. It's important for people to follow their dreams no matter how ridiculous," he says.

He's a little biased about his sport, too.

"As far as sports go, I don't know of any sport that requires that much concentration, that much focus and that much physical ability for that length of time than racing," he contends. "That helps with the veterinary practice - your focus and concentration translates to medical practice."

On track

The race season kicks off at the end of March and Davis' calendar is concentrated with races from March to September. Balancing that with veterinary practice can be tricky.

"It's always a challenge to put all these things together," he says. "Racing at the level I race at ... could be considered a second job, but you find time for the things you like to do."

Cost to play

Depending on the racing level, Davis says drivers' budgets can exceed $100 million for the Formula One car series; in comparison, Davis' budget is less than $150,000. That compares to his annual practice revenues of about $200,000.

Davis plans to recruit sponsors to advance to the Formula Atlantic racing level, which has a $1 million budget. Formula Atlantic, as Davis explains, is a support series for the Indy champ car series, with races from coast to coast.

Memory lane

Davis participates in about 20 races a year, but one in particular stands out, in which he had missed practice and qualifying due to mechanical failure.

"We had to start at the back of the pack with about 40 cars," he says. "Myself and two other guys had to rebuild the whole gear box and ended up placing third in a huge national race."

The races by no means garner big money - the series in which Davis participates has an annual $3,000 purse - but Davis' investment, and personal satisfaction, he says, is exponentially greater than any prize he's brought home.

At-risk driver

Equally significant are the risks and dangers of Indy-car racing.

"Hopefully you'll pick a fairly safe race car if there is such a thing. We wear a lot of safety equipment - full three-layer fireproof suit, helmet, strapped in with six seatbelts," he explains. "That's why I say that racing of all the sports requires a lot of focus and concentration, more than the rest."

While exceeding speeds of 165 mph, Davis says he's fortunate to have escaped injuries, except occasional bodily wear and tear.

Two-wheel training

Davis credits his track record for avoiding injuries to a strict physical training program, in which he simulates a race environment.

"I ride a stationary bike and lift weights with my upper body while riding. In the summer, I'll dress in heavier athletic clothing, and start the clothes dryer and ride by the dryer. Principally, you want to put on the type of equipment you have to wear when you're out in the sun. It's not uncommon to have the cockpit temperatures reach 140 or 150 degrees for about an hour."

A little luck also goes a long way on the speedway.

"When you take the machine, the driver and racetrack and environment, one week you can set the car up and be absolutely fantastic," he says. "You can go back two weeks later, same track, same weather conditions, same car, same driver and be mediocre.

"It's that challenge to figure out the difference and what went wrong on the days you weren't that good."

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