Swan Racing's Brandon Davis thrives on NASCAR frustration
Single-car team owner, just 34, sees potential for growth in challenging climateBrandon Davis lost his job at a mortgage company, had his car repossessed and lived on 99-cent burritos while sleeping on a cousin's couch in Denver.
A decade later, he's the owner of a team in the Sprint Cup Series.
Though Swan Racing, which is ranked 33rd entering Sunday's GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, hasn't met his expectations in its first full year on NASCAR's premier circuit, Davis seems to relish the challenge.
"It is frustrating, but if things are easy, they're boring," Davis, 34, tells USA TODAY Sports. "There's nothing fun about easy. If we were winning every week, sure that'd be fun, too. But if there's a challenge in front of me. I enjoy problem-solving. I've always been the underdog."
The odds seemed slim when Davis' path toward car ownership started with answering a want-ad promising, "99% failure, 1% success, six-figure income potential" as a salesman for an energy exploration company. Within three months, Davis was the top salesman and survived a purge in which everyone from a 17-person staff was fired except him.
He became a vice president at Heartland Energy at 25 but nearly went broke after a management split caused his departure from the company four years later. He formed Bedrock Energy, which nearly wiped out after starting with three dry wells in its first six months. But a run of 10 good wells led to stability, and the rebranded Swan Energy drilled 32 wells last year and is on pace for more this year.
The vacillating fortunes of a wildcatter – and transient lifestyle of NASCAR's traveling circus -- seem good fits for Davis, who bounced between schools as a kid.
"I think a lot of it relates to my childhood," Davis says. "Instability is comfortable for me. When I get to a stable point, I get bored, which pushes me further and motivates me. It's kind of a mess. My wife, Tara, it drives her crazy. If I tell her, 'We're going to throw all our money in a pile and burn it, and we're going to live in the back of a truck for a month or two,' she'll say, 'O.K.' She knows how I am. It's just what I do."
The plan in NASCAR, though, is for permanence. Davis hopes to grow single-car Swan Racing, which fields the No. 30 Toyota for David Stremme, into a multicar organization that also will field cars in the Nationwide and K&N series. The original timeline was five years to become fully established, but building a revenue model has been trickier than expected for Davis.
He had signed partial season sponsorship deals with Lean One and Widow Wax but has had to bridge the budget shortfalls.
"I'm spending a lot of money – a lot more than I'd planned on, but I'm having so much fun, I don't care," says Davis, who raced dirt late models in his spare time before starting Swan Racing last August. "When it gets to the point that impacts my business, it'll change things. But for the time being, we're good, and I'm happy... CLICK READ FULL ARTICLE