Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson is retiring at year’s end

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson is retiring on Dec. 31 after nearly six decades with the track.

Davidson is respected by race fans worldwide for his passion for the history of IMS racing, IMS said in a Monday release.

“I have enjoyed an unbelievable rapport over the decades with the participants and their families, the media, my colleagues and superiors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the United States Auto Club, the Speedway’s magnificent Museum and the Radio Network, and, especially, that incredibly devoted legion of the most passionate fans in the world,” said Davidson in the press release.

He came to IMS for the first time in 1964 from England, where he crossed paths with track owner Tony Hulman who recited year-by-year accounts of participants’ careers. He has also served in several roles on and off air for the IMS Radio Network broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 since 1965.

Davidson then served as a historical archivist for TelX — now known as IMS Productions — in 1997 before becoming historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation in January 1998.

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He even wore many hats throughout his time as IMS historian. Davison was a radio host from 1971- 2020 of the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on Indianapolis radio station 1070 AM. He is also known for his writing of historical articles and columns, Indianapolis 500 Yearbooks in 1974 and 1975, and a co-writer of the “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” with Rick Shaffer published in 2006 and updated in 2013, IMS said in the release.

Davidson cherishes his historian career and the friendships he has built with legends of the sport, fans, drivers, and media members.

“There will never be another Donald Davidson – he is like an encyclopedia on racing,” said A.J. Foyt.

IMS shared Davidson’s last words about his time as historian in a statement.

“I have been blessed with a truly amazing career which has been jam-packed with hundreds upon hundreds of personally rewarding experiences, but the years have flown by at an alarming rate and never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this magical ride would last as long as it has,” Davidson said. “Over the last three or four years, I have begun contemplating other areas of my life for which I wish I had been able to spend more time, and this has only been further underscored with daily reminders during the challenging last few months of having to work from home.

“I have enjoyed an unbelievable rapport over the decades with the participants and their families, the media, my colleagues and superiors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the United States Auto Club, the Speedway’s magnificent Museum and the Radio Network, and, especially, that incredibly devoted legion of the most passionate fans in the world.

“I hope that everyone will understand and respect that this basically private individual, who would really prefer to quietly take a little step back into the shadows without fanfare, has decided the time has come to retire from the official day-to-day duties.

“This was not an overnight decision, and we would like to sincerely thank the close-knit dedicated team that has been discretely working for several weeks on its implementation.”

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