Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson has announced that he will retire from his role on December 31 after decades working with the Brickyard and bringing joy to fans around the world since he first ventured across the Atlantic to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from his home in England in 1964.
Speaking about his decision, Davidson said:
“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. “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.”
No one has more knowledge or more appreciation of the heritage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway than Donald Davidson. “I have always admired Donald’s passion and dedication to the Speedway and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’ His ability to seemingly recall every detail of IMS history is remarkable, and he is one of the greatest storytellers racing has ever seen. I want to thank Donald for all he has done for our sport and for helping to bring the personalities and the legends of IMS to life for more than 50 years. Donald will always have a place at the Speedway, and we wish him all the best in this next chapter of his life.
There will never be another Donald Davidson – he is like an encyclopedia on racing. “I bet he knows more about my career than I do. And I don’t think he should be allowed to retire before me. All joking aside, I wish him the best.
There is something very special about Donald Davidson, and I noticed it from almost the minute I met him. When we first met, we gravitated to each other immediately. I think that was because we were both relatively fresh immigrants from Europe, so we had something in common. But very quickly I realized how remarkable this man was – a walking encyclopedia of everything Indianapolis. He immediately started educating me about the ‘500.’ I was so impressed; the furthest thing I expected from a Brit.
“He and I personally engaged and remained connected over the years. I could ask him where I was on Lap 32 in 1971 or what the track temperature was on Race Day 1984, and he would answer me without the blink of an eye. I thought it was almost miraculous.
“He’s everyone’s go-to guy for information on anything of historical significance, and he can talk about it in the most compelling way, which has earned him tremendous respect.
“And aside from his job at the Museum, he’s a well-liked gentleman who is genuinely kind and so enjoyable to be around. I can honestly say that I looked forward to seeing him every time I returned to Indy. I have so much respect for Donald. I’m very happy that I was able to enjoy and learn from his wisdom. And what I cherish most is that we became friends. I look forward to our paths crossing again.
Tony George, board chair, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum board of directors commented saying:
Donald always has been one of a kind – a true gem,” said Tony George,### “He has parlayed his love and knowledge of the Indianapolis 500 into a unique style of storytelling, one that captivates audiences and deepens their experience of the sport they love.
“He was invaluable in creating the architecture that became the Indy Racing League and was deeply involved in plans leading up to the inaugural event at Walt Disney World Speedway. We thank him for his many contributions throughout his entire career and wish him well as he spends more time pursuing his passions, including racing and its rich history!
Here at Paddock Eye, our favourite memory of Donald was meeting the great man himself at last year’s 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Wishing you all the best for your retirement Donald.