Indy Historian To Speak

Donald Davidson, longtime historian at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will be the featured speaker at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y., on Saturday, Aug. 25.

Davidson is considered the pre-eminent expert on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and United States Auto Club. His appearance to discuss the famed 500-mile race held at one of the world’s most recognized racetracks is being presented as third installment of the Center’s 2012 Center Conversations series, “America’s Great Tracks."

The free talk, open to all fans, begins at 1 p.m. at the Center, located at 610 S. Decatur St. downtown.

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-engine “Watson Copy" roadster that raced in the 500 in 1960, now is on display at the Center.

“Davidson is a legend in the world of Indianapolis racing. He’s a giant," said Michael Argetsinger, center governing council member and award-winning motorsports author. “His statistical knowledge of all things Indy 500 is unparalleled, as well as his ability to enthrall the audience with his stories."

Davidson has been historian for IMS 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 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 into 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, Mass., 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.

Final talk in the “America’s Great Tracks" series will be on Oct. 13 and presented by Tom Schultz, historian at Road America since 2000.

When the prototype Ford Mustang made its first public appearance in 1962 at the U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, little did anyone know the marque would become an American icon. Fifty years later, the Racing Research Center is celebrating this significant anniversary by offering a Mustang Boss 302 as its 2012 raffle car.

Only 1,962 tickets will be sold _ the number putting focus on the Mustang’s debut. The price is $60 for one ticket or two for $100. The annual car raffle is one of the Center’s biggest fund-raising efforts. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Center at (607) 535-9044 or by email at

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