Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Q&A With The Great Donald Davidson

(Photo courtesy of IMS)

I think that we can all agree, If you have a question about the Indianapolis 500 or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Donald Davidson is the man to ask.

The official track historian since 1998, Davidson is probably best known for his radio show "The Talk of Gasoline Alley", but he's also written several great books including Autocourse.

After years of hearing Donald talk about other people, it's time we learn a little bit about him. Finally after a month, I got the Q&A done.

16th And Georgetown: What is it about the 500 that first got your interest?

Donald Davidson:
"I don't know if it was the names of the drivers or when I found out what the cars looked like. I liked the car names."

16th And Georgetown: Your radio show, "The Talk of Gasoline Alley" airs nearly every night during the Month of May on 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis. What is your favorite topic to talk about on the show?

Donald Davidson: "Well I like telling stories. For the most part the questions have been about drivers and reviewing there careers and I used to do that with there finishing positions and stats. For a numbers of years, when it was WIBC still, the commercial load and the fact that we had to do traffic reports and stuff like that really limited the amount of time that I could talk, and I really like to tell stories so that was very hard to do. Over the last couple of years it's been a lot easier. I ended up doing the same things over and over again, but I like to do different stuff. I just like telling antidotes that hopefully will appeal to more than just racing enthusiast. Hopefully and I think it seems to work that if somebody asks about a driver, hopefully most people will either no who I'm talking about or if it's a guy driving his car and the wife is there I can make it interesting for her as well."

16th And Georgetown: If you could sit down with 3 drivers/personalities from the 100 year History of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, who would they be?

Donald Davidson: "That was a good question. I couldn't do 3. Wilbur Shaw would be one and the people from the 50's that I didn't meet. I would be interested to meet Vukovich, I don't know that there would be great conversation there because he was quiet. I think Jimmy Bryan, Bob Sweikert were both people I would liked to of met. Lee Wallard [laughs], so that's just the winners I could think of."

16th And Georgetown: What's your favorite car or "Special" that has ever ran in the Indianapolis 500?

Donald Davidson: "If I had to pick one, probably the 57 winner [Sam Hanks]. That's probably a combination of several things. One is, that that's when I first got interested but it's such a neat story anyway."

16th And Georgetown: Many say that the late great Lloyd Ruby was the best to never win the Greatest Spectacle. Who do you believe is the best to never win and where does Ted Horn rank?

Donald Davidson: "I wouldn't just do one. I think there's several people to consider and the cars have changed so much that I think its difficult to throw them all into a pot and just pick out one. I think the obvious ones are Rex Mays and Ted Horn. Ruby certainly, Michael Andretti, probably Scott Goodyear, Dan Gurney [laughs], even Roberto Guerrero it looked like he was going to be a winner. I'm probably missing somebody else as well"

16th And Georgetown: If you could go back and sit in the stands for any of the 93 Indianapolis 500 mile races, which would it be?

Donald Davidson: "Probably 1960. That's a little before my time but I knew what was going on and it's generally considered that that was the best race."


I would love to spend an afternoon at the Indy Motor Speedway Museum with Donald Davidson. That would be awesome.

Good Q&A. I'm envious. I met Donald this year the day before the race--as courteous in person as he is on the radio. We chatted briefly but I would love to have some real time with him to pick his brain.

George Phillips

I own a '38 Hudson 112 Convertible Coupe that I have reason to believe was the actual pace car in the '38 race. Although I have seen articles stating that the car was a Broughm I do not believe this to be accurate. I would apprectiate any comments or questions from any knowledgable sources regarding this car. Dave dk82152@charter.net


You may have the car. The 38' 500 was paced by a Hudson "112", 112-inch wheelbase....86hp 190c.i. V-6....0-60 in 35 seconds....24 mpg

You should give Donald Davidson a call, he'll know everything, Monday-Friday 317-492-6716

My Great Uncle was William F. Sturm. He was the U.S. racing manager for the likes of Sir Malcom Campbell, and 2 other drivers from England. He was also on staff for the Indianapolis News. Do you recall hearing of "Bill" Sturm? Thank you Mr. Davidson,
Kim Hankins

Can anyone tell me when and where did A J Foyt say I am so wonderful

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