DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – In a room filled with vintage automobiles and rabid race fans, Donald Davidson spun the tales that have made him a Brickyard legend.
The longtime historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway travelled here in this year’s pace car, to tell the story of the very first one in 1911, driven by track founder Carl Fisher.
“They used a Stoddard Dayton passenger car and Fisher was the local agent one version it came off the showroom floor the other version it was Jim Allison’s personal car,” Davidson says.
Allison being Fisher’s partner. Over the years, three men who lived in Dayton have won the race: 1957 winner Sam Hanks worked at Wright Field during World War II. Mauri Rose was a three-time winner in 1941, 47 and 48. and 1926 winner Frank Lockhart also had a very high-flying next door neighbor.
“Frank Lockhart was born in Dayton and apparently the family were neighbors of the Wright brothers father in fact in comparing family names I’m wondering if frank lockhart might have been distantly related to the Wrights in some fashion.”
There have been many more Dayton drivers who tried to win the 500, including Salt Walther, and it nearly cost him his life. In 1973, he somehow survived what is still one of the worst crashes in 500 history.
“He had the injury but he came back from the injury which was very serious don’t want to go into details I think he turned a lot of heads among the other drivers the fact that he would come back injured and continue to do it.”
WDTN is the home of the Indianapolis 500, happening on Sunday, May 26th.