Doug’s racing career got its first brief spark when he was at the ripe old age of 7 years old. With an outdated Quarter Midget his father bought from a neighbor, he began honing his skills in the local high school parking lot. After a short session of “What to do and what not to do” from his father, he entered his first race where to everyone’s surprise he qualified in the number one starting position on “The Pole”. While during the race he was eventually passed by drivers of greater age and experience, it was obvious to everyone in attendance that this young racer possessed something special….
On their modest income, it didn’t take long for his parents to realize that racing just did not fit in the family budget, and Doug’s racing career though very promising would have to be put on hold.
In 1988 & 89, Doug competed in Enduro and Sprint Kart racing. With his Kart and a modest amount of equipment crammed into the back of a Ford Pinto, he traveled the west coast of the United States racing at every track that he could and almost always finishing in the top 5. He raced Karts in many different classes, from 100cc to 300cc Open. Whatever category the Kart was, he was up for the task and in most cases, the results where the effort.
In 1989, Doug won the So. California M-Modified Class Autocross Championship in his “Rookie” season. During the season he became one of the crowd favorites to watch, as he would slide his car through corner after corner in what seemed to be complete abandonment on the absolute edge of disaster but somehow always maintaining enough control to make it to the finish line ahead of everyone else. While not known at this time, this experience in car control would serve him well in years to come.
In the 1991, Doug traveled to Europe to attend the Elf Winfield Driving School. After the 5-day program had ended, he was encouraged by the Schools Instructors to stay in Europe a while, obtain some additional and enter Elf Petroleum’s Formula Renault Driver Search. From France, Doug headed to England to see what that country’s Formula Ford Teams had to offer. After a couple of “test-days” with Prowess Racing, Doug was offered the teams “test/development driver” position which while it didn’t pay much, would keep him in England… He then returned to France to compete in Elf’s Driver Search.
The competition went well in the beginning as of the 30 Drivers in attendance, Doug was in the top 5 after every round. To this day no one really knows but a suspected misread of the stopwatches dashed Doug’s chances at the final prize. He headed back to England where he secured (in principal) a spot on the works Swift UK Formula Ford team. It was all set, Doug would work in the shop to cover his “living expenses” and he would be the team’s 2nd Driver. Unfortunately that position was shortly filled by a young man, who’s Father had the ability to “sponsor” the entire team. While the work shop job was still available and his “test-driver” job over at Prowess Racing was still there, Doug felt he needed a bit more of a sure deal so back to America he came to continue his College education and his hunt for more sponsorship.
In the winter of 1991, Doug competed in the Skip Barber Formula Ford Series. In this series he really learned to fine-tune his “Race craft”. Not only must he be fast to win, but also be consistent. In his first full season in Formula Cars, Doug placed 7th overall in championship and was top point scoring “Rookie” in the series. Along the way he set a new lap record at Sebring International Raceway and in the 12 races series, he recorded 3 wins and 5 fastest laps.
In the Fall of 91 Doug’s sponsor Crown Racing decided to go Stock car racing. With their newly purchased NASCAR Busch Grand National car the team completed a 2-day Test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After he acclimated himself to the high speed 1 1/2 track, Doug was able to turn laps quick enough to have qualified the car in the 18th qualifying spot for that years race.This speed coming from a driver that had never been on a track like this, in a car like this, or even in a car that had a roof on it was considered quite impressive by all in attendance. After the test the team began to make plans for more testing and to run a limited schedule for the remainder of the year in preparation for a full season the following year. Less than 2 months later the team’s owner was killed in a robbery attempt at his home and the team was disbanded shortly thereafter.
In 1992, Doug Competed in Both the Florida where he finished 5th and the Mid-West Formula Ford Series where he just narrowly missed winning the Championship and finished 2nd. By the seasons end, he had assembled an impressive record. Of the 52 races run, 33 were 1st or 2nd place, 12 were 3rd or 4th, and he started from “The Pole” 22 times. Add to that the numerous voted awards that he received, one could say he had developed into a force to be reckoned with on any given race day.
From 1991 to 1993 Doug worked as a driving instructor for various racing schools. While this helped him to develop his driving skills, his big gain came in public speaking. As an instructor, he became accustomed to giving talks and lectures to large and small groups alike. He was part of new car introductory tours for many of the country’s major manufacturers, as well as conducting one-man safe driving seminars all across the county.
In the fall of 1993 Doug moved to Charlotte, N.C. and opened up D’Vanz Kolors. A graphics design company that is geared towards the racing industry, where the majority of their work was directed towards the designing and painting of racecar drivers’ helmets. Within just a short two years, D’Vanz Kolors had become the single largest supplier of helmets to Winston Cup and Busch Grand National drivers.
Charlotte was not only the logical location to set up D’Vanz Kolors, but there’s no better place to develop as a race driver, than the city that has been called “Race Town, USA”. Upon arrival he contacted fellow road racer Elliot Forbes-Robinson and told him of his plans to “convert” to Stock Car racing. Elliot being the co-founder of the Legends Cars series convinced Doug it would be a good place to start. So in 1994, bypassing the entry-level divisions, Doug went straight into the “Pro” class competing against drivers who were oval track specialist. Unable to find a permanent ride, Doug guest drove for three different car owners in 94. Of the 14 races he competed in, he recorded 11 top ten finishes.
In 1995, because of a lack of sponsorship Doug was forced to miss the first half of the racing season. Of the 67 races on the 95′ schedule, Doug was able to compete in only 46% of the possible races that year. Posting an impressive record of 20 top three finishes (which include 6 wins), 2 fourth’s, 1 fifth, and 6 other top tens, Doug still forcefully managed to finish second in the Central Carolina Region’s year end points race.
To cap off the 1995 season, as a result of finishing second in the divisional points, Doug was invited to compete in the year ending AC Delco National Championships. The $36.000 event attracted 213 cars representing 31 states and England. Of the 58 cars entered in the Pro Division, Doug set the 4th quickest time in qualifying. In the 10-lap heat race that followed, from his 10th place starting position Doug passed the leader with 1/2 a lap to go to take the win.
This win entitled Doug to start the feature main event from the 3rd spot on the grid. With the leader setting a torrid pace, on the third circuit of the track Doug dove inside him to take the lead. For the next 27 laps all the other competitors could do was watch as Doug opened-up a 15-car length lead and went on to become the 1995 AC Delco Legends Cars Pro-Division National Champion. As an added bonus to 95, at the year-end awards banquet, Doug received the honor of “Most Improved Driver of the Year”, as voted on by his fellow drivers.
In 1996, Doug continued racing in the Legends Car Series. Concentrating on only the “High profile” races, his tally of top five finishes continued to grow. While consistently running at the front of the pack, he was one of, if not thee most visible drivers on the track. The live television coverage of the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s “Summer Shootout” Series once again proved to be a great showcase for this young and aggressive driver. Of the 9 race long summer series, he scored well enough in the 8 races that he competed in to finish 3rd overall in the points. Doug was also the only driver to win more than once in this highly contested series.
The 1997 season proved to be an up and down season for Doug. Early in the year saw him in Florida for a series of “Guest Drives” in the Legends Car Winter Shootout. Whenever he went south, he demonstrated to a totally new and different group of drivers the aggressive skills that have made him such a major force on the rest of the southeast Legends Car scene. With regular runs from the rear of inverted grids to the front on more than one occasion, Doug made the local drivers well aware that this outsider had his own ideas about the first place spoils.
The official start of the 97′ season saw Doug without a ride or the funding to secure one. Fortunately just 2 weeks before the summer swing, Doug was offered another team’s back-up car for the CMS Shoot-out. Being a “back-up” car meant a lot of sorting out in a short amount of time. To everyone’s surprise, Doug scored his first victory for the team in only the third race of the series.
The good news was Doug was once again up front were he was accustomed to being. The bad news was, for the rest of the summer; he would be starting towards the rear because of the inverted gridding rules for winners at CMS. By summers end, he placed 4th in the points Championship and was one of the two most watched and talked about drivers in the series.
In 1998, Doug focused the majority of his efforts towards making the next step up the racing latter. He did manage however to squeeze in one Summer Shootout race were he started 21st and finished 10th in the 20-lap Feature. He also, got back on the dirt as he drove the Mahl’s family owned #72 Legends car. While improving every time out, Doug came away with 7 out of 9 top 4’s, including 1 win and the North Carolina State Dirt Track Points Championship for Legends Cars.
In 1999, Doug teamed up with veteran Crew Chief, Barry Owen to the #19 FORD Taurus in the USAR Hooters Pro-Cup Series.Proper funding determined they only participated in two races together. The first at South Boston, Virginia where they qualified 26th and finished 25th do to an over heated engine. At the teams second race at Caraway Speedway they 26th and finished 24th, again with an engine-heating problem. For Doug’s final race of the season at Lakeland USA Speedway in Florida, he employed the Crew Chief assistance of Gary Hargett. Having only 12 laps of practice on a track he had never driven before, Doug qualified 27th of 56 cars entered but had to dropout in 25th place do to broken oil cooler.
With a new Sponsorship deal in place, Doug and his small crew built a new ProCup car for the 2002 season. Their goal was to build a car that would take full advantage of the USAR ProCup Series rules. The construction of the car had given the team a racer that would be as capable of winning races as any car on the track. As the first race grew close, their Sponsorship deal began to unravel. Unable to collect the promised funds the team was forced to close its doors until a new sponsor was in place.
With the 02 season a wash, Doug was able to do a bit of development testing for two NASCAR Late Model Stock teams in 2003. The plan was (with both teams) to get the cars “sorted out” and the team would secure the proper funding to run the cars. Unfortunately in both cases, Doug did his job and got the cars fast during testing, but neither team ever secured the proper finances to race the cars.
So with not much of the season left Doug ran 2 Late Model Stock events at Hickory Motor Speedway. The first event driving for Charlie Sigmond Racing Doug qualified 16th of 32. As luck would have it the rains came right before the Green Flag and on the rescheduled race date, the car was unavailable to compete. In the season ending Fall Brawl, Doug but a deal together to drive for another local team and although they qualified 15th of 34, the car was a mechanical nightmare and they fell out of the race before half way with a blown engine.
In 2004, Doug’s racing career took another interesting turn. A new form of motorsport had worked its way across the Pacific Ocean. Originating in the mountain roads of Japan, the sport of Drifting began to make its presents known here in America. Doug teamed up with Kenny Brown Performance and together they build the first Ford Mustang Drift Car. Between Exhibition and competition events, together they participated in 7 events in only 4 short months. With their best finish of 4th place at the US Drift Nationals in South Bend, Indiana they made everyone sit up and take notice that a Mustang could compete head-to-head with the best of the Import cars that dominate the sport.
In 2005 Doug and his Kenny Brown Mustang finished 2nd in the NASA sanctioned US Drift National Points Championship. The team also competed in some of the SCCA Formula Drift events but at this next level the stock Mustang power plant was just not up for the task to compete against the most high-powered Drift cars in the country.
The 2006 season brought big gains for Doug as he and his DVM team once again got back to their winning ways taking home victories at the GT Live drift event at Virginia International. Later that year, Doug won his 2nd National Driving Championship winning the Formula Drift Pro-Am Nationals in Laughlin, NV. Besides a nice trophy, Doug was awarded a Formula D Super License for the entire 2007, putting him in a group of only 65 drivers with the credentials to compete in that series.
In 2007, Doug spent the majority of his time working on the drifting program, be it the car, his driving or sponsorship. Using the Pro-Am Nationals as a springboard, the team competed in four Formula Drift events. The season opener at the Long Beach Grand Prix street circuit, they finished a respectable 20th place, which at the time was the highest any true rookie driver had every finished in FD competition. After nearly making the “Top-16” at Summit Point, WV, the team caped-off their year with a second straight victory at VIR’s GT Live event.
This past 2008 season has been a tough one for Doug and his team. Not only in terms of events but as with the general condition of the world economy, operation money proved to be hard to come by. Ever persistent, Doug still managed to stay active competing in 2 rounds of the regular Formula D season where he finished a career-high17th at Englishtown, NJ, a mere ½ point out of the “Top-16”. This was a heartbreak really as on a 0-to-100 scale, ½ a point could have come from anywhere getting Doug into the “tandem” rounds. This ½ point would also go on to haunt the team as it now meant they hadn’t scored enough points to keep their entry spot open into the 2009 season.
Not letting minor setbacks get the best of them the team went on to compete a few more times in non-FD events finishing 5th at VIR, winning the Elite Summer Nationals in Spartanburg, SC and 2nd in Dayton, OH at Street Live III. Proving that adversity can be lurking around every corner, the team had a real tough time back at VIR for GT Live. Not being able to finish well there still left Doug and the team short on Formula D points for the year. Seeing no alternative and with some significant help from a couple of their “product sponsors”, the team loaded-up their Mustang and headed off for California to compete in the final FD Pro-Am Qualifier of the year. With a cool head, a few words of encouragement from some of the Formula D “regulars”, DVM was able to finish 5th in the event which was good enough to secure their spot for the following season.
2009 was just about as busy as it could be for DV and his DVM crew, not only was there competition calendar busy but Doug had the great opportunity to participate in a few drifting-demonstration events with his friend Vaughn Gittin, Jr. on behalf of Ford Racing. By years end the pair of Mustang drivers would do four “demo’s” entertaining crowds from coast to coast.
On the competition side, Doug had a good showing at Formula D, Atlanta. A controversial call by the judges saw him miss the Top-16 with an aggressive move up the inside of his over-slowing competitor. At the next round in New Jersey, the DVM crew were a bit out-classed when they went up against a series veteran that would go on to win the series championship. Luckily, later in the year DV got a second shot at him at Irwindale and won that round… Or lost it, depending on who you talked to…
DV’s 2010 schedule would have less “demo’s” on it but more competitions as he ran two Formula Drift events showing well in Atlanta and nearly advancing to the Top-16 in New Jersey. After NJ, the team focused on the XDC Series scoring #1 Qualifying positions and winning at both Summit Point, WV and Fort Worth, TX. Then the team went down to Georgia and did the same thing at the SEDA Pro-Am event.
The 2011 season presented some shinning moments for DV and his team as together they ran in both the Formula Drift Pro-Am and the Xtreme Drift Circuit. When you look at scoring, they were the #1 qualifier at three events, they won 3 times, had 1-second, 2-third’s and 1-eighth place finish. Running 4 out of their 5 FD Pro-Am events, DV finished 2nd in So. East regional points with 120 points possible per-event, he was only 26 points out of 1st place. In XDC, DV finished 3rd in Eastern Region & 5th in National points. By seasons end he had run 3 out of their 4 events. With 116 points possible per-event in that series, he was 106 points out of 1st place. Considering his limited schedule, it was a very productive year.
For the 2012 season, Doug and his D’Vanz Motorsports crew focused on the Streetwise/Formula Drift Pro-Am Championship which encompassed events in the South East. With wins that included the support-event for the Formula Drift A-level devision, Doug and his crew strung together enough #1 qualifying possessions and podium’s to win the series long points race. By becoming the So. East Pro-Am Champion, the team had secured a 2-year exemption on the Formula Drift A-level tour.
In 2013, the Formula Drift series restructured some of the vehicle-rules in an effort to keep the cost of building new cars down. On the surface these rule-changes were good for the sport as a whole but they also cost some team’s in the short term, a great deal of money to update their exsisting cars. This unfortunately was the case for Doug and his Mustang as the “privateer team” was forced to sit out the whole season while they brought their car up to the 2013 rule-specs.
In 2013, despite plans to do more, Doug made just one start at Miami Formula Drift Pro2 in another teams BMW. While he managed to qualify 7th, the car was struck with some mechanical issues that prevent Doug from competing in the event. After that weekend, all plans to continue in the car were set aside.
With the Formula Drift series restructuring some of the vehicle-rules in an effort to keep the cost of building new cars down, it unfortunately put the DVM team on their back-foot. On the surface these rule-changes were good for the sport as a whole but they also cost some team’s in the short term, a great deal of money to update their existing cars. This unfortunately was the case for Doug and his Mustang as the “privateer team” was forced to sit out the the next few seasons while they brought their car up to the current rule-specs.
When the 2016 season came along, Doug and his team emerged with a faster and more powerful car than they had ever had. With their site set on the Formula Drift Pro2 series, a lot of expectation was put on the car. The new and improved Mustang was a much more complicated beast than it had once been and teething pains lurked around every corner. Between engine and turbo mechanical failures, the team’s best result was a 7th place qualifying & finish in Atlanta. It wasn’t the results they had hoped for but they soldiered through nonetheless.
As we look towards the 2017 season, DVM has joined forces with Jonathan Nerren Racing to become part of a 3-car operation. The group will compete in the Formula Drift Canadian Series and with the Mustang added to their stable, everyone is excited about the possibilities. With any luck, Drifting “demo’s” will be back in the teams activity list as well as Doug feels they’re such a great way to get his message out to the masses as well as spreading the sport of drifting out across the landscape of America.
Doug is a veteran driver with an amount of talent that has impressed many through the years. He has continually shown that with a little help and good fortune, he is one of this sport’s truly great ambassadors.