He never even heard a live broadcast of it until 1960, when he was hard pressed to get AM radio to stay on the signal enough to get the last 40 minutes of the race.
In 1964, Donald Davidson bought a plane ticket to America and a ticket to the race. The speedway's director of ticket sales, Frances Derr, was already corresponding with him, fascinated by this Briton with his inexplicable, encyclopedic knowledge of the race. When he arrived in Indianapolis, she told Donald that she'd upgrade him to a bronze credential badge that allowed access to Gasoline Alley, the hallowed garage area. A curiosity of sorts, he was immediately mobbed by the 500 glitterati.
"To my amazement, they were all fascinated by what I had done, having committed to memory so many obscure stats like laps completed, laps led and such, and they were extremely interested in me, which I hadn't expected. It was like, 'Hey, Parnelli, come over and listen to this.' I'd give him a rundown on what he'd done in the 500 year by year, and other titles he'd won. He said, 'You've got to be kidding. Has Foyt heard this? Where's Rodger Ward? Get Sam Hanks over here.' It was a dream world. After the gates closed, the garage area would stay open at night. I'd hang out there, and they'd take me around, and say, 'Remember so-and-so?' I'd say, sure, he drove in the 1940s. 'Well, here he is.' "
Donald met speedway owner Tony Hulman almost immediately. Perhaps more importantly, he also met Sid Collins, the radio voice of the 500 from 1952 until his death just before the 1977 race. It was Collins who invited Donald onto the 1964 race broadcast, briefly, as a guest. "What I didn't know until years later was that Sid and (500 veteran and co-host) Fred Agabashian both talked about me, on the air, for probably another minute, in extremely complimentary terms. I didn't know this until both them were deceased. I owe them, and other people, a great deal of gratitude." Donald showed up in 1965 with a green card and has been part of the 500 broadcast team ever since, the official, full-time historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the only major race course in the world that has one.
read the rest, it's really good!