A Tribute To Tom Carnegie Voice of IMS

Growing up in Indiana,  I remember Tom Carnegie fondly.   Mr. Carnegie was ONE of a kind person, in his field.

Mr. Carnegie, was the son of Baptist minister, and made many moves in his youth.  Born Carl Kenagy in Norwalk Connecticut on Sept 25 1919.  He died Feb. 11, 2011, a resident of Zionsville Indiana.    Just a few miles Northwest of Indianapolis.

He graduated in 1942 from William Jewel College, (located Liberty Missouri) where he played baseball until a polio-like illness sidelined him his Junior year, with  partial paralysis of a  leg.  At that time he turned to  extemporaneous speech and debate competitions.  He entered a Sports Radio competition, (which he won).  As the son of Baptist minister they moved around often  Mr. Carnegie credits his years in Iowa listening to Ronald Reagan doing sport broadcasting as his inspiration to enter the sports broadcasting field.

Upon graduating from William Jewel College in 1942, he accepted a position at Fort Wayne Indiana as a sports announcer.  During his tenure in Fort Wayne he became the broadcast announcer for the then Fort Wayne Pistons.  No the Pistons were not always in Detroit,

Mr. Carnegie later accepted a position in Indianapolis Indiana.  It was during this time Tom Carnegie would announce Antique Car Shows.  During one of these events in 1946 he was approached by Tony Hulman, the new owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Mr. Hulman asked Tom Carnegie if he would be the PA announcer for the track.  Tom accepted and worked approximately 16 years without pay.

His popular catch phrases included  during a qualifying attempt was “…..aaannnd heeees’s ON IT”.   Following a very successful attempt it was  “….iiiiittttt’s  a nnnnneeeeew traaaack record”.  And unfortunately for Mario Andretti it was “…..and Mario is slowing down on the backstretch.”

In 1953 he became the sports director  for WFBM, now WRTV .  A position he held until his retirement in 1985.

Nor only did he announce the races, he also announced the Indiana high school Basketball Tournament, held at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Butler University Campus.  Even before it was renamed in honor Butler’s long time coach Tony Hinkle.

Mr. Carnegie also had movie credits in the movie HOOSIERS in which (get this he played a PA announcer for the final game).

My family made it annual tradition to travel to Speedway Indiana to witness at least one day of qualifying for the Indy 500.  I remember how his vocal tone and cadence came across the archaic Pa system so clearly.  I also remember how when someone else tried to relieve him and you could barely make out a word here or there.  He truly was gifted.

Knowing that someday Mr. Carnegie would need replaced the speedway began updating the PA system.

I met the legend once.  I found him to be an unassuming and personable man.  Although our meeting lasted only a few minutes.  I asked him, (because it was quite cold  with a light drizzle that day, and he was in his eighties at the time), we all had on winter coats.  My question was “Why are you down here on the track instead of in one of the heated enclosed booths”?   His reply was, “I want to experience the event the same way the fans do.”

Well that is about all I know about Carl “TOM” Carnegie.  I don’t know if Tom was even a given name or just an assumed name for professional reasons.  I do know that he is a LEGEND in sports announcing.  And will be greatly missed.

That Is How I See It

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