The short track world was rocked on Sunday with the passing of Florida legend David Rogers. On Speed51’s “The Bullring” Monday, many of those closest to Rogers shared memories of competing with Rogers. Few in the racing world were closer than Lee Faulk.
A former racer in his own right who is still involved in the sport through Lee Faulk Racing & Development, Faulk met Rogers even before their racing careers took off. The two actually met in high school before beginning their racing careers at the short tracks of Central Florida.
“David and I go back a long way,” said Faulk. “We actually went to high school together. David and I started racing together at Volusia County Speedway. We are more than race track friends. David and I have been friends for over 40-something years. I think I met David when he was 17 years old.
“I was fortunate enough to be with him from day one running a raggedy Chevelle at Volusia County Speedway and Ocala Speedway. We raced in t-shirts. That’s how long we’ve been friends.”
Faulk and Rogers spent time working together as well as racing against one another. They developed a strong friendship that withstood the test of time for several decades.
“We had talked about every week for forever. He was one of those kinds of the friends where you didn’t have to nurture the relationship,” Faulk stated. “You could go a month, six months, two weeks and never talk to him. You never felt like you’d lose that friendship, you’d pick the phone up and it would be just like it was.”
Soon, Faulk and Rogers would be competing against each other regularly. They even finished 1-2 in the final standings for the 1987 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, with Rogers taking the title.
“You could race with David side-by-side for 200 laps and he was one of the few guys that you could race with and never have an issue,” said Faulk. “If you bumped, you bumped, it was never intentional and never an issue. It gave you that feeling of comfort.
“He was kind of an old-schooler. That’s what I loved about him the most. Him and Dick Trickle had so many similarities it wasn’t funny. They raced their butt off, you knew you weren’t going to get wrecked, and you’d get out and have a beer with them afterwards.”
Faulk even shared a story of one of the rare times the two drivers made unfortunate contact at New Smyrna while battling for a win – and ended up creating an unforgettable and unbelievable memory.
“We had a 50-lapper going on at New Smyrna one night, and David and I had an epic battle going,” Faulk began. “Me and David passed each other probably 15 times, back and forth, back and forth. He got into me off of two and I got into the fence and knocked the nose off the car.
“At that time, Clyde Hart was still living. They stopped the race, and all of David’s crew and my crew, they let us fix my car on pit road. They brought out another class so they could race while we were fixing our car, so me and David could go back at it. We were having such a battle. They started our feature again after the Street Stock race.”
While Faulk no longer races, Rogers competed as recently as this year’s World Series in February. Faulk made the trip to both the World Series and the 2019 Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway, in part to celebrate Rogers’ return to racing after an extended battle with lymphoma.
“I was so excited to go back to Speedweeks, just like when I went to the Snowball. I know what that meant to David. Racing and family were the two most important things David talked about.
“People don’t realize, you relate David Rogers to New Smyrna and the Snowball Derby. When people talked about New Smyrna Speedway, David Rogers was the name that popped up.”
Faulk is now heavily involved in driver development with his new racing endeavors. He said he hopes many young drivers take note of the way Rogers carried himself, on and off the track.
“One thing I hope the young racers take away from this is, be the kind of person David Rogers was. You didn’t get out and show your butt after the race. Be thankful for what you’ve gotten. Don’t be an arrogant kid. If the kids today would model themselves after David Rogers, they’d go a long way in this sport.”
Fans can listen to the full interview with Faulk from “The Bullring” in podcast form by clicking here. They can also see the full episode of “The Bullring” in dedication of Rogers, with interviews from many others in the short track racing community, by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Kristy Smith-Palmer