There are a number of great articles out right now remembering and recalling the career of the great Tom Carnegie, Voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1946 to 2006, passed away this morning at the age of 91. For any fan of motorsports, today is a sad day as we lose one of the greatest announcers in sports history. Anyone who had been to the Speedway during his tenure surely can never forget his deep, rich, baritone, and how he could play the crowd like a fiddle, stirring up their excitement. Rather than try to write our own summary of Mr. Carnegie’s career and what he meant to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, we encourage you to read the fantastic articles that are already out there at IndyCar.com and from our fellow bloggers. Paul Dalby at MoreFrontWing.com and Tony Johns at PopOffValve.com have both written excellent articles, and they’re well worth the time to read. Be sure to also read Johnny Montona’s very first article at AndHesOnIt.com, The Sound of Speed. What we’d like to do here is to share with you our personal recollections of Mr. Carnegie and what his enthusiasm for the sport we all love and his magical way to calling the action to us meant to us as fans of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. First, we encourage you to take a moment to watch this video which celebrates Tom’s career. If nothing else, its always wonderful to hear his voice once again, even if it is in recording.
Remembrances of Tom Carnegie
Living in Indiana and being a fan of the 500 since I was eight, Tom’s voice over the PA at the speedway always made me enjoy it that much more. One of the things that I love about motorsport so much is the atmosphere of the track. The cars, the noise, and the massive amounts of people are all things that add to that enjoyment. Tom took it a step further for me and IMS. There are three things over the month of May that make the hair on my neck standup. The flyover, the three wide start, and Tom over the PA calling in speeds for time trials. All of those things really complete the month for me and it starts with Tom Carnegie’s voice and the atmosphere he brought everyday during practice and quali before the race ever happened. While I was not around during the glory days of Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Rick Mears, I will say proudly that I was there when Tom called action at IMS and to me that is my little piece of history I will carry. He will be missed greatly and there will never be another Tom Carnegie.
I grew up in the great state of Indiana, but didn’t get to attend my first 500 until I was in college. Juan Pablo took that race win. Up until then, my following of the race was from tape delayed broadcasts (sometimes starting at midnight), IMS radio, lots of highlight packages on the local news and the occasional visit to the track for qualifying. But through all of those years before I got to go to the race and the many years hence, Tom Carnegie has been the celebrated voice of the Speedway and his voice was featured in almost every experience I had with IMS before I got to go to the race, even the Bob and Tom tapes that I kept hidden from my parents.
Tom, you will be missed by all of us fans who have hung on the edge of our seats waiting to hear your call after lap 4.
As a Hoosier, even if I moved from state to state during my childhood, we always listened to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the qualifying drama that preceded it on the radio. During those radio broadcasts, especially on Pole and Bump Days, we would occasionally hear the wondrous sound of Tom Carnegie’s voice. Always enjoyable, but I never realized the full magical nature of Tom Carnegie and how he could play the crowd until my first visit to the Speedway while cars were running in anger around the track.
In 1993, my dad and I went to Bump Day. That was an incredible year for the 500 mile race when four Formula 1 World Driving Champions competed: Emerson Fittapaldi, Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti, and Nelson Piquet. Seeing the reigning World Driving Champion, Nigel Mansell, as cool as it was couldn’t hold a candle to hearing Tom Carnegie call the qualifying action. I had always been a fan of the Indianapolis 500, but when I was standing on pit lane, watching the cars roar by, and hearing Tom’s voice, I became an addict! I never missed watching or listening to the race again.
I finally was able to return to the Speedway in 2000 and witness my first 500 Mile Race thanks to the generosity of a good friend of mine. Of all the things that I remembered from 1993, the stands, the smells, the tenderloins, NOTHING told me I had come back to IMS more than when I heard Tom’s voice over the PA once again. Since his retirement in 2006, the Race is still magnificent and the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, but I will always miss hearing his deep rich voice building the excitement and anticipation as the eleven rows of the thirty-three fastest racecars on the planet made their final pace lap and lunged down the front stretch toward the Yard of Bricks. I will miss hearing your voice, Mr. Carnegie. Godspeed.
I started attending Indy in the mid to late 80’s. While the visuals of the race have always been spectacular with the speed and action, much of what stands out in my memories are the sounds of the speedway. The whine of the engines, the roar of the crowd, and most of all, Tom Carnegie’s deep booming voice over the loudspeaker announcing the action on the track. His voice had a quality all its own, and lent so much to the anticipation, the thrill, and the magic of being at the 500. His presence will be greatly missed.
The year 2011 will be my first trip to IMS, and sadly we rarely got to hear Tom’s iconic voice on TV. I do recall one moment they did let Tom’s call stand on TV; 1992, A.J. Foyt’s ”Last Lap” around Indy.
It was so emotional to hear him announce the completion of A.J.’s last lap, the most exciting lap of about 50MPH you will ever see at IMS. He like our local iconic voice; the late Harry Kalas, he like Tom was the lone voice for generations of fans. Both will always be missed,and both have impossible shoes to fill.
Tom say hello to my hero in heaven; 1980 Indy 500 Rookie of the year, Tim Richmond. I know you loved watching him.