May 21, 2009 in Washington Voices

The Verve: A shop is their studio, their canvas a car

Jennifer Larue
Colin Mulvany photo

From left, Chris Davis, Ken Landrus and Drew Davis helped build a top fuel funny car called Nitro Pimp.
(Full-size photo)

On the Web

Nitro Pimp will be racing at Spokane County Raceway this season. Check out or www.spokanecounty

“Man heaven,” if there were such a thing, would probably be very similar to Davis Pro Shop on Spokane’s North Side.

Or, if heaven is too strong a word, perhaps the shop could be described as a “man museum” or “man gallery” where pictures of automobiles and such are plastered onto the walls. What’s really amazing are the things parked in the shop that are worthy of an “awesome.”

Chris Davis owns the shop on his property, and he and a half-dozen buddies re-create, fabricate, decorate, build and maintain the mechanics of very cool cars.

There is a convertible 1916 Dodge Brothers roadster that has been restored to a hot rodder’s taste with an exposed engine and a shiny blue paint job with flames. There’s a slingshot dragster that runs on alcohol and approaches 200 mph in the low 7-second range. The latter looks like an elongated open boxcar with fat tires in back and skinny ones in front.

The group of artists also restored a 1960 Chevy station wagon that was found in a field. It is now a dependable vehicle pimped out in a reddish coat with flames and a rat character on the hood.

The focal point of the shop is Nitro Pimp, so named because it runs on nitro methane. It certainly is pimped out with thousands of hours of man time in the paint alone, which includes gold metal flake, airbrushed designs, such as a guy in pimp’s clothing peddling bottles of what might be nitro and intricate lettering of sponsors’ names.

Nitro Pimp is a nostalgia funny car, named that probably because when the sport began, someone looked at the cars with their big slick tires, oversized engines, and artistically rendered bodies, and said, “Man, that looks funny.” Funny cars race a quarter-mile at high speeds, ending with the deployment of small parachutes.

Davis’ Nitro Pimp has the body of a 1972 Chevy Vega and has been brought to its current status as “funny car extraordinaire” with the help of car enthusiasts Jeff Paulus, Jeff Long, Ken Landrus, Rick Davis and others who drop in to do odd jobs in their own fields of expertise. Though it is one car, it takes dozens of hands to build, maintain and run it.

Chris Davis owns and drives Nitro Pimp at the newly refurbished Spokane County Raceway, formerly known as Spokane Raceway Park. He also attends car shows and races, with pit crew in tow, in other states including Oregon and California.

Davis and his crew are artists, using their talents, tools, machines and passion for cool, fast cars to create something bystanders will enjoy. The speed, sound and visual wow factor of Nitro Pimp does raise adrenalin and appreciation for fast-moving art. “It’s artistry in motion,” Davis said.

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. Contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by e-mail at

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