I had never met the Indianapolis 500 historian until I talked with him in the studio one evening. I was editing one of my episodes and he had just finished his live show on 1070 The Fan, so I introduced myself. We sat in the studio and talked for an hour, casually. If we had turned on the mics, we could have done a show right then. But we agreed to meet the next night and do it for real.
He’s got a story like no other. Just getting from England to the Speedway for the first time in 1964 was a great accomplishment and adventure. So was the fact he was immediately embraced by everyone at the track and was on the air on race day, just a few days after his arrival. His timing was perfect, because he arrived just a few months after the Beatles made their first appearance in the U.S., and people from England were automatically popular at the time. He became part of the British Invasion.
He’s become an institution because of his unmatched knowledge of the race, and his enthusiasm for it. He not only can name the starters and finishers for every race, he knows the history of everyone and everything relevant to the event. Quite simply, there’s nobody like him in any sport. Imagine someone being able to rattle off the participants in every Kentucky Derby and where they finished, or even the names and numbers of all the Super Bowl participants, along with the final scores. That’s what Davidson does for the 500.
Davidson quickly worked his way into the fabric of the “500” and is now so deeply ingrained he’s a vital part of it. As in most cases, his accomplishment began with an act of extreme initiative.
First aired 2009
Tagged with: Donald Davidson, Indianapolis 500 historian