"Talk of Gasoline Alley" returned again to the airwaves last night — just as it has at the dawn of each May for the past several millenia — and we are the better for it. That is because Donald Davidson is a goddamn American treasure who is built out of microfiche and Wonderment. He is not human.
He is the futuristic droid servant from every old-timey movie ever, built to look impossibly charming and British and to sound even more so. (Think C3-PO.) And he has every ... single ... factoid ... to have EVER OCCURRED at/inside/near/in the airspace above the Indianapolis Motor Speedway downloaded in his intricate, 007 circuitry. The main format of the show involves callers calling in with INSANELY obscure observations or questions or tire-pressure stats from any Indy 500 dating back 6,000 years and then Donald speaks at length on it, in god-like detail, until you — the listener — are utterly convinced that he is making this all up as he goes. Each segment is some variation of this:
Caller: "Hi, Mr. Davidson — my great uncle lost his wallet in the J Stand near the Northwest Vista during the 1952 race, or so he says. I think he's a liar. Is he a liar? I'll hang up and listen now."
Davidson: "Indeed your great uncle is right as rain! His name was Gil Paxton, if I recall. 6'3", 162 pounds according to his motor vehicle licensure issued by the good folks at the Bartholomew County BMV. A gangly fellow for sure, Gil was! And he had a slight vision impairment too, if memory serves — but it did not technically restrict his driving. I remember that wallet well. It was returned to the Tower Terrace area by a Selma Rodgers, who was a frankfurter vendor in Turn 4 and a dynamite euchre player to boot! Wonderful lady, Selma! But I digress. Your Uncle Gil's wallet has a fascinating tale! ...
[talks about Uncle Gil's returned wallet for the next 4.5 hours]
It does not stand to reason that this makes for compelling radio ... but it does. It more than does. It is unfailingly fascinating. I could listen to Donald Davidson talk at length on bronze-smithing or bunions or "House Party 2" or — gasp — auto-racing for hours on end, the topic does not matter. His voice rings in the month of May which rings in summer — and it has since forever.