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Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian visits the Summit City

Fort Wayne, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – We’re pretty excited here at Fort Wayne’s NBC because NBC has the Indy 500 this year. The excitement is building. Speedway historian Donald Davidson was at Kelley Chevrolet Wednesday to promote the big race.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian, Donald Davidson says, “My passion is the past. I happily live in the past.”

Words from Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian, Donald Davidson, who grew up in Europe, but had a passion for Indy from an early age.

“I discovered this thing called ‘The Indianapolis 500,’ with different drivers and it wasn’t a road course, it was like this, but something about it fascinated me,” says Davidson.

After being involved in various roles with the track since the 60’s, including the radio broadcast, he has been track historian since the late 90’s. Each year, as the month of May nears, the excitement grows.

“Almost everybody I encounter, one after another, their opening line is ‘This is my 46th race,’ or ‘It’s my 37th race,’ and then they proceed to tell you about their traditions,” says Davidson.

He was at Tom Kelley Chevrolet Wednesday and rode in a Corvette similar to the one that will pace the field to the green flag, continuing a long streak with a Chevrolet as the pace car. Kelly Chevrolet has its own history fielding cars in the race.

Kelley Chevrolet General Manager, Chuck Kelley says, “My cousin, Tom Kelley and his father got involved in the Indy 500, and two significant drivers, Mark Dismore and Scott Sharp drove two cars.”

Since 1965, the race has been broadcast on the ABC network with different coverage forms, going with live coverage for the first time in 1986. NBC’s only history broadcasting the race came nearly one hundred years ago from radio broadcaster, Graham McNamee.

Davidson says, “There’s not anybody like him now, because not only did he do major sports events, but he did political rallies, and just state occasions.”

Along with the broadcast history, Donaldson knew every question we asked about the race, including past winners.

Davidson says, “1980 was Rutherford for the third time, ’81 was Bobby Unser for the third time, ’82 was Johncock for the second time, ’83 Sneva, ’84 Mears for the second time, ’85 Sullivan, 2000 Juan Pablo Montoya, 2001 Castroneves, 2002 Castroneves for the second time, ’03 Gil de Ferran.”

The 103rd running of the Indy 500 will be broadcast live on NBC for the first time, making more history in the long and winding road of this race. We will bring you continuing coverage up through race day on Sunday, May 26th. That means exciting stories and local connections to the history of the 500.

Jon Wilson

Jon Wilson is the Weekend Meteorologist at Fort Wayne’s NBC. You can catch Jon’s weekend forecasts on Fort Wayne’s NBC at 6 and 11 p.m.

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