Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Indianapolis 500 and “Track Burgers”

Graham Rahal will be sponsored by Steak ‘n Shake at this year’s Indianapolis 500. My Indy cohort, Bill LaDow, has the release on his site, speedwaysightings.

Rahal is no stranger to burger-sponsored cars as he wheeled a McDonald’s ride in 2009.

Here’s a look at some other “track burgers” over the years:

Graham Rahal, 2009/Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Pancho Carter, 1990/Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hardee's also sponsored Scott Brayton and Tony Bettenhausen over the years.

Chip Mead, 1981/Scanned out of my 1981 Carl Hungness 500 yearbook. Chip Mead did not qualify. I always wondered if he just walked over to the White Castle at the corner of 16th Street/Crawfordsville/Georgetown and asked them if they wanted to sponsor his car. Also, my 1981 CART media guide lists his last name as "Mead"; small goof in the caption. 

Cliff Hucul, 1978/Scanned out of my 1978 Carl Hungness 500 yearbook

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Newspaper Indicates Jim Nabors Was Scheduled All Along To Sing “Back Home Again in Indiana”

As we all know, last May was the final performance of Jim Nabors singing “Back Home Again In Indiana” at the Indianapolis 500.

One of the oft-told stories – including by Nabors himself – is that Tony Hulman made a last-minute request for Nabors to sing the beloved tune.

The short version is that because Peter DePaolo, the 1925 winner, sang so poorly before the 1971 race Hulman was compelled to find a professional singer the next year.

Legend has it this mysterious performer didn’t show, putting Hulman in a bind.

So he asked if Nabors wanted to sing. Supposedly, Nabors thought he meant “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Nope. “Back Home Again in Indiana.”

Which Nabors knew – somewhat.

He performed it – beautifully – basically off the cuff, with no rehearsal, with the Purdue band.

Nabors operated that way –no rehearsals – for the next 40-plus years as he became a beloved fixture on race day.

Great story, right?

Except it doesn’t appear to be true.

Earlier this year, I bought a copy of the Saturday, May 27, 1972 edition of the Indianapolis Star on eBay. You know, the edition that came out the morning of race day.

On the front page, it lists the order of events.

Which includes:

10:50 a.m. “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (see for yourself)

So it appears Nabors did know he was singing that day.

Or maybe Hulman told the paper, but forgot to tell Nabors.

Shazam! Golly!

Jim Nabors photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway