Pit Lane before the 1953 Indianapolis 500

Published On February 3, 2011 » 3706 Views» By Donald Davidson » Blogs, Gasoline Alley Unplugged
Pit Lane before the 1953 Indianapolis 500

Pit Lane before the 1953 Indianapolis 500

Pit Lane before the 1953 Indianapolis 500

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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.
6 comments
john
john

This sure brings back memories. This was my first race. I remember so well how hot it was and my dad almost passing out from the high heat.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

DONALD: My old friend, you stir emotions and memories in me everyday in your blog. Thank you. The letter you wrote to me when my dad died hangs on my wall and is etched in stone forever on the huge headstone of our family plot.

Dennis Johansen
Dennis Johansen

The tension in pit lane on race day is so thick you can cut it with a knife. It was a lot more tense back in the "GOOD TIMES". 53 was the year Vuky knew well he would win. The picture of him standing on the wall in the north chute watching Ruttman pass by on his way to victory after the steering tightened and he rubbed the wall is one of my favorites of him. The man so many called the Mad Russian wasnt mad. He was very calm tho disappointed, didnt throw his helmet or gloves but by then he knew he would win the 500. He is in so many drivers of his era opinions, teh best ecer at the Speedway. He would have been the first and only 4 in a row, 52, 53, 54, 55, winner of the 500. At the Hall of Fame dinner last year Jim Travers, in a video, said, "He was the greatest (Vukovich) ever. We would have won 4 or 5 in a row. I owe everything to Bill Vukovich. He did it. In 1952 at the Speedway he said to my dad, "When I ran against these guy in midgets they made the same mistakes in midgets that they make here". He was so ahead of his time not only in racing but being smart about business....invested in Mutual funds..started his plan of building a string of Union 76 service stations. I have so many Vukovich stories about a quiet, VERY caring man. He used to ride a bicycle every day to stay in shape. he d meet my dad every morning about 6 A.M. for coffee at Halls Drive in restaurant on Church and Hwy 99 in Fresno. I loved to go there with him and get to talk to see Bill Vukovich. I d ask him a question or say something and he would laugh. Though I was only 10 when he died...I still miss him. The only place he was tough as hell is on the race track....he was the greatest ever!

Racenutdon
Racenutdon

Interesting coincidence. Carl Scarborough finished 12th in the race after he passed away. Guess which position Dale Earnhardt Sr. finished the 2001 Daytona 500 in. 12th. Compare yesterday's picture with todays. The front stretch has certainly changed.

Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper

it is amazing how racing was a man's sport back then with little or no thought for safety as in today's age.....Just look at pit lane or no firesuits and no rollbars and the catch fence

Jay Crihfield
Jay Crihfield

These photographs are amazing.....the original bricks, no pit wall between the pit lane and main straight, and not one fire-suit anywhere.