Locally-built championship racing boat memorabilia reunited with daughter of boat builder

Published 12:46 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

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After her first published book, Our Family, Its History, Their Boats: Six Generations of Boat Builders in Dare County, hit the bookshelves, LeVern Davis Parker felt like the hardback had brought her a second family. Mid to late November of 2022, the author made a trip to Louisiana to visit relatives of those who were involved with her father’s Class E race boats and brought back with her treasured memorabilia.

Parker’s father, Vernon Davis, and uncle, Ralph Davis, built a number of race boats right in downtown Manteo throughout the 1930s to 1960s. While in Louisiana, LeVern met up with Tave Flair, whose father, Al Flair, owned one of the champion runabouts. “They have a special meaning to me,” the writer said of her family’s hand-crafted race boats. “I don’t feel like there are a lot of people in Manteo who understand that these race boats that they built held international, national and local championship titles. They were high point champions as well, scored most points in races during the years.”

The collected memorabilia were not only part of Parker’s family, but a large part of her life, and were given to her in November because the last person to drive one of her father’s race boats, Gerry Milto, had passed away. “They were cleaning out his [Milto’s] house and they had given Tave a lot of materials; books, programs from races … and they had given him two trophies, one of which he had shared with me.” The trophy, shaped like the United States of America, was won by Milto in a championship race with one of the Davis family boats, the Trice Ann.

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Among the relics are newspaper articles with varied publication dates. One, published in 1996, describes the day Milto and Trice Ann won the American Powerboat Association Class E service runabout national crown. Another, dating back to 1963, recounts the President’s Cup Regatta in Washington D.C., when Trice Ann claimed the national champion trophy and Milto set a record: Tice Ann went over 81 mph.

As for the rest of the memorabilia, the author shared that it will go into an auction/estate sale. If they do not sell, Parker will inherit the remaining treasured items, “understanding that I can keep them for my lifetime if I promise to put them in a museum later on.”

As for the book, Parker is happy to share it has been successful. So much so that she intends to write another one. “It’s been a great experience writing the book, I’m glad I did it,” she shared. “It introduced me to lots of people all over the country, from the Great Lakes to Louisiana and up and down the east coast.”