When a visitor to Jeff and Melissa Eames’s house in Springs the other day noted that no other competitors could be seen in the photos of their 12-year-old champion Quad-racing daughter, Davis, they had to acknowledge that that was because Davis, who’s been riding A.T.V.s since she was 4 and racing them since the age of 6, invariably left her peers in the dust.
“She won all three New England A.T.V. championships this past season,” said Jeff Eames. “In the 70 c.c., 90 c.c., and 90 Mod classes. That was her goal. Last year, she won the 90 C.V.T. and 90 Mod championships, but no one has ever won three championships in one season before. Actually, I didn’t even think it was possible.”
The justifiably proud father and his slim 5-foot-2-inch, red-haired daughter had been clearing driveways earlier that morning, and sawdust clung to Davis’s jeans and Dustin Wimmer hoodie as she splayed out on one of the living room couches, alternately playing with the family’s lively little dogs, Chase and Fudge, with Hurricane, the abandoned kitten she’d rescued at the Hurricane Hills MX track in Clifford, Pa., and her yellow lizard, GMX, who, she said, had only bitten her once, when she had first picked her up at Pet Hampton. “She likes to eat crickets . . . she peed on my friend Kai, twice.”
Asked for a highlight from the season just past, Jeff began, “At her last race, at Hurricane Hills, the national 90 Mod, 90 C.V.T., and 70 C.V.T. champions, whose season had ended a month earlier, entered the New England A.T.V. race with Davis.”
“Yeah,” he said, in reply to a question, “they were all boys. Two were older than Davis and one was younger. Before the race began, they were playing mind games, talking trash, you could say, and I could see it was getting to her; she was wound up. Her coach, Dustin Wimmer, who was the national pro champ in ’08 and ’09 and was a top-level rider for Team Suzuki, told her simply to race her race.”
“The stars must have been aligned,” Davis’s father continued. “She was second in the hole shot, behind one of the national champs, right on his butt. They went back and forth in the first lap, and in the second she took over and led the rest of the way. She’s got the heart of a lion.”
“Later, the father of one of the national champs gave her full credit — there was no animosity — and asked why she didn’t race the national circuit. I said why bother traveling all over the country when we knew, based on what we’d just seen, how she would do.”
While that story attested to his elder daughter’s grit, as did the fact that she had to be carried to the family’s R.V. utterly exhausted after racing 12 laps in 100-plus-degree heat at the New Jersey Raceway Park, the following spoke to her heart:
“We were at Twister Valley in Fort Plain, N.Y., and Davis had torched everyone in the 70, 90, and 90 Mod races the first day. But all of us could see the track would be nothing but mud the next day because of heavy rains. No one wanted to muddy their bikes. We all agreed not to race.”
“The next morning, one boy showed up at the line, on a spotless 90 C.V.T. Davis saw him and asked if she could give him the first-place trophy. We all said sure, and she walked up to him and, holding out the trophy, said, ‘Now you don’t have to get your bike all muddy.’ She became his hero with that gesture. She has so many trophies [upstairs, downstairs, and in the family’s garage] of her own. It shows her heart.”
Davis and her younger sister, Devyn, who, on emerging from beneath a box she was playing in, said brightly, when a visitor asked how old she was, “Devyn’s 7!” are students at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. Davis, who’s in the older group — Hayground’s eldest students are 13 — has, as part of her studies, been apprenticing with Nadia Ernestus, “the Hamptons Health Coach,” and, under the 537 Productions banner (537 is her racing number) has made several short films with her, “Hug a Farmer,” which is on the “Davis DareDevil” YouTube channel, being one.
Her interests, she said, in answer to a question, were varied enough to keep her happy during the off-season. David Lys of Weekend Warriors, a fellow Springs resident, is her trainer, though she too has come up with conditioning ideas on her own. Asked if she wanted to become a pro — she looks up to Dustin Wimmer, who’s 25, as an older brother — Davis said, “Unh huh,” as if there were no need to ask.
Did she play other sports? No, she said, because she didn’t want to get hurt. In her six-year career, she’s only flipped once, and once she hurt her thumb.
“Next year, she’s moving up to the 300s,” said Davis’s father, who’s her chief mechanic. “We’re taking the engine from a C.F.R. 250 Honda dirt bike and putting it into a Quad. It should be ready by Jan. 14. So, beginning in April, she’ll be racing in the 90 Mod and 300 classes. She’ll be too old for the 70s. We might go to a national race in Georgia in March just to see how she does. . . . She’ll have plenty of competition in the 300s. I’ve told her to take it easy, at least in the first half of the season, but she said to me, ‘Dad, I’m not taking it easy!’ ”
“I’ve told them [her fellow motocross competitors], ‘Watch out — I’m coming!’ ” said Davis as, with one foot on the ground, she revved up the 250, which her father had rolled out from the garage, and sped off across the front yard.