The Racing Capital
of the World
May 9, 2015
April 28, 2010 | By Paul Kelly
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson and Indianapolis 500 chief mechanics Jim Travers and Frank Coon are the 2010 inductees into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, officials announced April 29.
The induction ceremony will take place Thursday, May 27 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. An esteemed panel of nearly 150 electors, comprised of Hall of Fame members, leading auto racing participants, motorsports journalists and officials, votes annually for Hall of Fame inductees.
"We're honored to welcome Donald Davidson, Jim Travers and Frank Coon into the Hall of Fame," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and chief executive officer. "All three have made indelible contributions to the history and tradition of IMS and are very deserving of motor racing's highest honor."
Davidson 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, and in 2010, he will be heard on the Indianapolis 500 Race Day radio broadcast for the 47th consecutive year.
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.
Travers and Coon often are listed together because professionally, one could hardly be mentioned without the other. Known variously as "The Keck Kids" and "The Rich Kids," they jointly ran the ultra-successful racing team of sportsman Howard Keck.
Already a powerhouse in West Coast Midget racing, Travers and Coon arrived at Indianapolis in 1948 with an Emil Diedt-built front-drive car featuring several revolutionary innovations, such as magnesium wheels (Halibrand) and fuel injection developed by crew member Stu Hilborn. After top-10 finishes with Jimmy Jackson in 1948 and '49, the car placed third in the rain-shortened 1950 "500" with Mauri Rose behind the wheel.
Ever the innovators, Travers and Coon collaborated with Frank Kurtis on the building of the first of the so-called "roadsters," a nickname given by driver Bill Vukovich to their low-slung, offset creation. Vukovich dropped out with a steering failure while leading the 1952 "500" with nine laps to go before bouncing back to win in 1953 and 1954.
In 1957, two years after the untimely death of Vukovich, Travers and Coon formed Traco Engineering, a very successful business which enhanced the performance of Chevrolets for Sprint cars and sports car racing.
The Auto Racing Hall of Fame was established in 1952 by the American Automobile Association. It has been located at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1962.
IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. In 2009, the Speedway began the three-year celebration of its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.
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