Indianapolis 500 Drivers Taking a Moment Together at the Track

Published On March 11, 2011 » 4887 Views» By Donald Davidson » Blogs, Gasoline Alley Unplugged
Indianapolis 500 Drivers Taking a Moment Together at the Track

Indianapolis 500 Drivers Taking a Moment Together at the Track

Indianapolis 500 Drivers Taking a Moment Together at the Track

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Donald Davidson

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson, based at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, developed a passionate interest in the Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in England. Arriving at IMS in 1964, he delighted the racing community with his ability to recite year-by-year accounts of participants’ careers. Returning permanently in 1965, he was invited by Sid Collins to join the worldwide IMS Radio Network and was hired by Henry Banks as USAC statistician, remaining at USAC for almost 32 years. He was named Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian in 1998. Along with numerous television and radio assignments, raconteur Davidson has played host to the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on 1070 AM in Indianapolis during the month of May continuously since 1971. His writing credits include countless historical articles and columns, a pair of “500” annuals in 1974 and ‘75 and co-authorship with Rick Shaffer of the acclaimed “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” published in 2006.
23 comments
Johnnie Kacsala
Johnnie Kacsala

RacenutDon, you forgot that race's rookie of the year, New Zealand's Denis Hulme, who later that year would win the Formula One World Drivers' Championship. This had the 1967 500 with SIX past/future World Drivers' Champions.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

I saw my first 500 as a nine year old too. Lone Star JR in '74.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

I heard Michael Andretti talk about '92 and he said when Roberto spun he knew it was going to be a bizarre day. He also said it was just so cold in the car. I sat in NW Vista that year. When I lost sight of Little Al and Scott Goodyear the outcome was still in doubt. No matter. The most exciting Indy 500 is always THE NEXT ONE.

Steve
Steve

@Racenutdon, The '92 race was my 2nd one (haven't missed since, by the way)...I was only 9 years old. I'm pretty sure we even went to qualifying that year and watched Roberto Guerrero torch the speed records. Then he went on to embarrassingly crash during one of the parade laps on race day. It was just a preview for that day. Of course, the ending definitely made it worth sticking through the cold weather. I still consider it a badge of honor to have been there. Probably my most memorable 500 experiences over the last 20 years.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

OOPS! Five F1 champs in the '67 race. I forgot about Mario Andretti.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

Mr. Johansen: Marc Matheny, Bill Allen, Mr. Davidson, and I have all given ONE YEAR when we felt the starting line up was tops. You've typed alot of words here,but never named a year. Walk the plank already. Pick a year. Give us your opinion and the facts behind that opinion.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

When ALL the facts and realities are looked at....I cant understand anyone not looking a lot further back in history as far as the 20s to the 50 s or 60 s. The quality of the field in those eras are truly REAL race drivers with experience on the dirt more so than pavement and how great they did at the Speedway. remmeber, the Speedway was pretty much the only pavement track on the trail. No one will ever change my mind about teh drivers from the 50 s and 60 s...problem is...not that many people are stilla round the sport who can remember when.......People around racing today , and I deal with them 2 or 3 times a month, can only imagine what the cars and drivers were like back in the "day". The normal response from drivers today is, "I cant bvelieve those guys did what they did." The respect the drivers of today have for the drivers of the past is quite high as they realize how it must have been. Todays fans, however, well.....Its amazing when we have an exibition of cars from the 50 s and 60 s...no cages, no wrap around or full conatainment seats, open face helmets, goggles with lenses that actually fluttered on the high bank tracks, no over the shoulder belts, no power steering , T shirts and white pants...Sorry BUT!!!!!!!! If the drivers of today had been around in the 50 s and 60 s they still would have been race drivers and still done well as a "racer" is a "racer" no matter what era they race in .

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

Greatest starting field at Indy? Statistically '92 is tough to beat with 13 former/future winners in the line up. (14 if you ask Paul Tracy!) Also consider that when the green flag was waved in '92 it's the ONLY TIME that the three 4-time winners start together as 4-time winners. That having been said does anyone remember how the '92 race played out? Can you say CAUTION FLAG? 80 laps of wind, cold, and yellow flag. FIVE of our winners helped bring the race to a crawl by crashing. Statistically a great line up, but my respectful opinion is that many of the former winners were well past their prime in 1992. 1967 on the other hand has 9 winners in the race PLUS a bunch of champion racers in other series. Larry Dixon, Mel Kenyon and Ziggy Snider are Midget/sprint/dirt champions. Rodger Mc Cluskey and Joe Leonard each won the Champ Car title. Joe won it twice AND Joe was also an AMA motorcycle champion. There were 4 F1 world champs with Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, and Jimmy Clark. NASCAR stars Cale Yarborough and Lee Roy Yarbrough are in the race. Throw in Lloyd Ruby and Dan Gurney and you have a star studed line up at the top of their game. You also have tremendous diversity in drivers and machines. In the 50's the average# of winners in the race is 7.2 for the decade. The high is 9 in '53 and the low is 5 in '58 and '59. The engines are for the most part Offy with the beloved Novi thrown in. Less diversity in the cars makes Vuky's accomplishments more impressive. The British Invasion is still years away and most in the field have a dirt track background. Were they brave and talented? Absolutely! Can you imagine trying to go fast with the heat and oil from the engine right in front of you blowing back in your face? I saw the '92 race, but I'll cast my vote for 1967.

Marc Matheny
Marc Matheny

I've said it before. For talent and diversity of pure talent, 67 and 92 are two years that are hard to beat.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

Donald must have had a memory lapse...Sorry Donald.. and u too Bill.......I completely disagree...check out the year that had the most former winners and the most future winners...problem with the 50 s staring fields is that 39% of the drivers to start between 50 and 59 were killed in a race car during that era..BUT the 67 field was not the race with the most talent...in MY educated opinion.

Bill Allen
Bill Allen

1967: I once asked Donald Davidson which race had the most talent in the starting field. I was thinking 1967 and DD said he thought it was the 1967 starting field.

Don Frentzel
Don Frentzel

I have lost so much time reading ALL of the Gasoline Alley Unpluged. Time ell spent I might add. Saw my first 500 in "59. Would like to see some Novi stuff. Good job Donald these memories are just great.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

Rick Wampler, I live in Illinois where the voters are stupid. That has nothing to do with when you get your tickets and neither does ticket seniority. The ticket office has told me that its done by grandstand and the order changes from year to year. A friend in Stand C got tickets on Thursday. I'm in NE Vista and mine arrived Friday.(March 11) Maybe your wife hid ten just to tick you off!

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

TO RICK WAMPLER... I lived in Tucson for 5 years backin the 70 s when Roger McCLuskey had his Goodyear store out on 22 nd. he bought a house for me to rent as houses were hard to find back then in Tucson (1971) and i had a house to sell in CA before i cud bye in TSN. Bill Holland, 1949, lived in Tucson at theat time also. Love Tucson!!!

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

Chuck Hulse...I still talk to him and his son, Chuck jr. Chuck sr came to the awards banquet at Russell Racing years back with his son and their wives and we had a great time telling stories on each other. His son ran my Russel series and, did quite well. He also has a sprint car. When Chuck sr came to the Speedway he was runing sprint cars and he flipped...I think at Eldora and his wrist watch flew off his arm and was found TWO blocks away. Violent flip that sidelined him for awhile. His wife , BJ, would pick him up every evening at the Speedway in their old black1949 Ford sedan. She d pull up in front of the pit gate and the guard would always say over the PA system in the garage area, "Mr. Hulse, your limo has arrived here at the pit gate and your driver requests we page you." We d all come out of our garages and applaud and he d run out to the car always smiling and waving bye, kiss BJ and off they d go. She was a real tall fox. The people in racing back then were really a tight knit family and it was so much more a realxed atmosphere. Had a personal relationship with Loyd Ruby and Bobby and a pic taken at Mari s Goerge s yearly party several years back of me and Loyd hangs in my office. He signed it and sent it to me. Still stay in touch with Bobby and Chuck and treasure the memories. Never talked to Al much. Mom and Pop Unser were the greatest!!! She was "MOM" to everyone in the garage area. Loved her chili she made for the guys in the garage area!!!!!! Thanks for the memories Donald!!!! Emotional memories for me. Damn, I miss those people and those days. It was GOOD!!!!!!!

james t suel
james t suel

Great shot ,those were race drivers. An what great guys! I ALSO GOT THAT BLUE ENVELOPE,SO MY 51ST 500 LOOMS!

Rick Wampler
Rick Wampler

hey Racenutdon............where do you live ??? I called home today and she said ....NOPE......they aren't in the mail.. guess it takes longer for "Mr Postman" to get them to Tucson. ( hopefully tomorrow )

Bill Schiel
Bill Schiel

Another great candid shot. Thanks for the ID's of Pollard and Hulse.

Steve
Steve

I guessed 4 out of the 5- not bad for someone who was in 7 in '67.

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

My wife just texted me. A blue envelope arrived in today's mail. Christmas in March!

IndyPacer
IndyPacer

Racenutdon, thats too funny!

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

I read that in retirement Lloyd Ruby kept a book on display in his home called "How to Win the Indianapolis 500 by Lloyd Ruby." All the pages were blank. Lloyd was one of kind. Great picture. Again, the best shots aren't staged.