Donald Davidson, longtime historian at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will be the featured speaker at the International Motor Racing Research Center on Saturday, August 25.
Davidson is considered the preeminent expert on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and the United States Auto Club.
Davidson’s appearance to discuss the famed 500-mile race held at one of the world’s most recognized race tracks is being presented in the third installment of the Center’s 2012 Center Conversations series, “America’s Great Tracks.”
The free talk begins at 1 p.m. at the Center at 610 S. Decatur St., Watkins Glen, and is open to all.
Also slated to speak is car collector and publisher Joseph Freeman, who will cover the “Roadster Era” at the Indianapolis 500. His Joe Hunt Magneto Special, a front-engined “Watson Copy” roadster that raced in the 500 in 1960, is now on display at the Center.
“Davidson is a legend in the world of Indianapolis racing. He’s a giant,” said Center Governing Council member and award-winning motorsports author Michael Argetsinger. “His statistical knowledge of all things Indy 500 is unparalleled in the sport, as well as his ability to enthrall the audience with his stories.”
Davidson has been historian for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1998, but his involvement with the track began decades earlier.
A serious race fan from afar, he attended his first Indianapolis 500 in 1964. Traveling from his home in England, Davidson took with him a deep knowledge of the series, including knowing the results of every race and much about every driver who had ever competed in an Indy 500.
He had written before his arrival to track radio announcer Sid Collins and was invited to the booth, becoming a big hit with the crowd.
At the next year’s race, Davidson again joined Collins in the announcer’s booth. A few days after the race, he was hired by USAC as a statistician, a position he held for 31 years.
Davidson’s career in radio includes decades of shows about racing. His career as a writer includes his “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” co-authored with Rick Shaffer and published in 2006, as well as many magazine articles and collaborations with other book authors.
Davidson was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2010. At the time, he was one of only 25 who were living and one of only two living who were never a participant.
Car collector Freeman is owner of Racemaker Press, specializing in books about vintage racing. He is a vintage racer and former president of the Society of Automotive Historians.
Freeman also is past president of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts, and is a car show judge.
The talks by Davidson and Freeman continue the mission of the Racing Research Center to preserve the history of motorsports in all series, at all tracks.
The final talk in the “America’s Great Tracks” series will be on October 13 and presented by Tom Schultz, historian at Road America since 2000.