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Flashback Friday: Peoples Wins Inaugural Jake Davis Memorial For Fallen Nephew

Media Contact: Steven Ovens - or (315) 729-3825

For Immediate Release – July 15th, 2016 – Nathan Pickering photo -

(WOODHULL) – Often times, you will see press releases and news items along with driver profiles pop up on this website promoting Woodhull Raceway. Factual information, supported with stats and driver quotes.

But today, we bring you something different. Something fresh. Today, we bring you a Flashback Friday article regarding the special event that we prepare to participate in on Saturday night- the 4th annual Jake Davis Memorial King of the Ring for the Insinger Performance 370 Modifieds.

When special events come up like this one, as a new announcer at Woodhull for this season, I do my best to research what has happened in the past so that I can offer tidbits of information to either educate new fans in attendance or refresh the memory of fans that have been attending Woodhull for 40-50 years...some even since day 1.

But in doing research for this event and it's history, I spoke with several race fans and referred to a lot of material that Paul Harkenrider offered in past years as the previous announcer/PR representative. I found past winners and jotted down the winner from the past three seasons and who they beat in the event.

We even talked about this upcoming event a few weeks ago on Turn 5 Live with my co-hosts Clint Miller and Brad Ovens. Clint offered up his take on the first King of the Ring in 2013, saying that the event left him "with goosebumps on his arms."

I heard the special story of Kenny Peoples winning the event in memory of his nephew Jake. But I couldn't completely grasp the idea or feel the atmosphere that must have been generated in the grandstand that night. I could visualize what that must have been like, but couldn't really put my finger on the pulse of that win.

Then I stumbled upon the video from the event. Northeast Racing Videos was on location that night and uploaded 40 minutes worth of video documenting the entire event from driver introductions to Victory Lane. All of a sudden, I was there, I felt the electric atmosphere of the crowd and I even got to hear a new voice in Paul Harkenrider being flanked by the veteran and my good friend Morgan Colegrove. But what I was about to watch in the video was more than a great story or a storybook ending, it was almost mythical.

The second semi-final race was enough of a story all on it's own. Kenny Peoples Jr. and Bryce Davis, aboard the Ford-powered No. 60J were matched up to race it out to see who would meet Billy Van Pelt in the final. The two put on a show with Davis taking the Davis family 60J to the final to face the Woodhull legend.

The stage was set for a great King of the Ring final. Could the multi-time champion take home the win? Or would Davis write a big first chapter in this great event honoring a young driver that was lost too soon.

Both drivers hauled it off into the first turn and as they reached turn two, you hear a collective groan from the announcers. Davis broke something and came to a sliding stop on the top edge of the second turn, ending his chances to write history.

Van Pelt sat idle on the front stretch as race officials made a decision to bring Peoples back out to compete in the races final round. Race officials spoke with Van Pelt about the circumstance. It would have been easy for Van Pelt to say "I've won this race fair and square" and left it at that. But that's not the kind of driver he has been over the course of his illustrious career. Van Pelt was all for it and Peoples would return to put on a show for the fans in the stands.

As they raced to the green flag, nobody was sitting in their seats. Everyone knew the importance of the event and even more so, knew what winning this race would mean to the Davis and Peoples family.

Van Pelt and Peoples were literally side by side for the entire first lap. As Peoples took the white flag, he was nosing ahead of Van Pelt to turn one. Van Pelt made up that ground off turn two and the two would race their way into the final corner. Peoples drove three and four for everything he had and used that momentum to take the checkered flag in his nephew's memorial race.

Van Pelt, although finishing second, didn't leave a disappointing second.

Peoples spun the car in excitement in turn two and eventually made his way toward the front stretch. But before he would get past turn four, Peoples stopped the car and got out to salute the turn four crowd.

In fact, the crew and family in the grandstands would run the length of the front stretch to meet him there. It was a special moment, and wrote a big first chapter in the race that now will enter it's fourth season on Saturday night.

"This is what it's all about right here," said an emotional Peoples Jr. in turn four. "This is for Jake, I don't even care if I ever win another race. I don't know what it is about my car, but I didn't let off in three and four and it just stuck."

Van Pelt was pleased with the show he and Peoples put on.

"That's what it's about, we are here to have a good time," reflected Van Pelt. "I wish (Jake) could be here to see this and, who knows, maybe he is here to see this."

It was an incredible start to an incredible event that now enters it's fourth season. I don't know that anyone will ever be able to top the storybook beginning that this race took on with Kenny Peoples taking the victory.

What I do know though is this- as the Modifieds take to the track on Saturday night, everyone will have Jake Davis on their minds and in their hearts. The drivers will strap into their cars and go out and put on one hell of a show, in memory of a driver who had a bright future ahead of him on the Steuben County clay.

Here's to you Jake Davis...enjoy Saturday night from the best seat in the house.

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