Skip to main content

What's Happening

at the Allen County Public Library  rss-icon

Indy 500 Historian Donald Davidson

by Community Engagement | Mar 30, 2018
Donald Davidson

Wednesday, April 11
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson is believed to be the only full-time historian employed at any race track in the world. Join us at our Main Library for a visit with Donald Davidson as he shares his valuable knowledge of the Indy 500. A question and answer session will follow his presentation.

This event is free and open to the public.

About Donald Davidson

A passionate interest in the "500" since his early teens irresistibly drew the English-born-and-raised Davidson to the Speedway for a three-week visit in May 1964. Having committed to memory a plethora of trivial details during the seven years it took for him to save up for the trip, he was able to delight both active and retired participants with year-by-year recitations of their careers.

He returned from England permanently the following May and was fortunate not only to be invited by the late Sid Collins to join the worldwide IMS Radio Network broadcast for race day, but also to secure employment with the United States Auto Club, where he was to remain as statistician and historian for the next 31 years. Officially becoming the Speedway's historian on January 1, 1998, he continues to serve on the Radio Network.

For the greater part of each May since 1971, raconteur Davidson has hosted a popular racing trivia "call-in" program on radio station WIBC (now WFIN), and for many years he wrote a column for The Indianapolis Star during the month leading up to the race. Each spring between 1986 and 2016, he presented a four-night continuing-studies course of “500” history through the Indianapolis-based IUPUI (Indiana University/Purdue University) campus.
Davidson is co-author of the Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500 and has contributed to countless other hardcover books on racing.

He also has written numerous articles for AutoWeek, Motor Trend, Road & Track, Car and Driver and the Indianapolis 500 Yearbook. He has himself been the subject of feature articles in most of the aforementioned publications, as well as in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times. He has also been profiled on ABC's "World News Tonight," and on race morning 2001 was interviewed live on CNN News. Two nights before the 1983 race, he was a live guest of Ted Koppel on ABC's "Nightline," along with Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti, while a brief interview with Russ Mitchell for CBS Evening News in 2011 was rebroadcast race morning on "CBS Sunday Morning" with Charles Osgood. 

On May 27, 2010, Davidson was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, and on October 3rd, 2013, he was similarly honored by the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. In May, 2016, the Indianapolis Star proclaimed Davidson one of the 100 most influential people in the history of the Indianapolis 500, and on May 20, Governor Mike Pence named him a Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor the State of Indiana can bestow upon a civilian.

Leave a comment