Posted on: February 11, 2011 12:56 pm

Famous Indy voice Carnegie passes away

Posted By Pete Pistone

One of the racing world's most famous voices is gone after the death of legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address announcer Tom Carnegie. The 91-year-old Carnegie died on Friday and race fans around the world are mourning the loss of one of the sport's true icons. Carnegie's booming voice was a fixture at Indy for May's Indy Car events as well as when NASCAR came to town in 1994. His trademark "He's on it" and "It's a new track record" phrases have become two of the most memorable descriptions in motorsports history.

From Track News Release
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011 – The mighty, thundering voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been silenced.

Tom Carnegie, the legendary chief announcer for the IMS Public Address system for an incredible 61 years, died Feb. 11 in the Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville. He was 91.

Carnegie served as the Public Address announcer at the Speedway from 1946-2006. He called 61 Indianapolis 500’s, 12 Brickyard 400’s and six United States Grands Prix for millions of fans at IMS.

Carnegie’s incredible baritone coined and developed such iconic phrases as, “AND HEEEEEEE’S ON IT!” “HEEEEEERE’S THE TIME AND SPEED REPORT!” and the classic “AAAAAAND, IT’S A NEEEEEW TRACK RECORD!”

It is fair to say Carnegie probably deserves more credit than any other single human being for helping build the gigantic crowds that were drawn to the track for qualifications three and four decades ago. He developed his style through the mid-1950s and pretty much had it perfected by the early 1960s, bellowing the aforementioned phrases and others to the delight of the crowd. He enjoyed tantalizing the attentive throng by “telegraphing” a track record or a spectacular speed with setup lines like, “YOU WON'T BELIEVE IT!” or, in the case of a run in which the speeds were increasing with each lap, “AAAAAAND, IT’S STILL GOING UP!”

Born in Connecticut as the son of a Baptist minister, Carnegie grew up aspiring to be an actor. But those hopes were dashed when he was stricken with polio as a student in Missouri. He turned his attention instead to the broadcasting of sporting events, and his sense of the dramatic quickly came to the fore.

After graduating from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., he landed a job in 1942 at radio station WOWO in Fort Wayne, Ind. Westinghouse in Pittsburgh owned WOWO and sister station WGL, and the station manager suggested the name Tom Carnegie would go well in the East since the name Carnegie was prominent in Pittsburgh. So Carl Kenagy – Carnegie’s birth name – became Tom Carnegie.

Fate eventually led him to radio station WIRE in Indianapolis near the end of World War II. He also wrote sports columns for the Indianapolis Star. It was while he was “emceeing” at a vintage car concourse just days before the 1946 “500” that new track president Wilbur Shaw heard his work and invited him to assist with the public address on Race Day. Carnegie accepted and kept coming back for the next six decades.

Because of his sense of the dramatic, and the fact that it had not been possible for any spectator to see completely around the massive facility, he enjoyed toying with the imagination of the IMS crowd with lines like: “WHO WILL IT BE? WHO WILL IT BE?” Or on a relatively peaceful qualifying day, while waiting to see if a driver was or was not going to raise his hand for a qualifying run, “Let’s wait and watch,” with a little singsong rise and fall to the last word. This would likely be followed up by, “Heeeeere he comes,” delivered with an upward glissando for “here” and a two-note singsong for “comes.”

Privately, Carnegie became somewhat saddened in the 1990s when virtually instant timing-and-scoring information became available to the public via computers, followed by the installation of large television screens around the track. He felt these innovations could lessen the mystique. “It’s theater,” he would philosophize, pointing up into the grandstands and then chuckling over the memories of some of his more famous calls from the days when the public was relying largely on his commentary.

Perhaps his favorite “call” came in the closing moments of the 1967 Indianapolis 500 when Parnelli Jones had to drop out with Andy Granatelli’s turbine after having led for much of the day, setting the stage for A.J. Foyt to become a three-time winner. Moments before Foyt was due to come through Turn 4 for the final time, a multi-car accident took place on the main straight, all but blocking the track. While cars were spinning in every direction – and, unknown to Carnegie, Foyt, with his incredible sixth sense, had already slowed – Carnegie was bellowing, "HE SHOULD BE COMING INTO SIGHT AT ANY MOMENT. WILL HE GET THROUGH? WILL HE GET THROUGH? WHERE IS HE? WHERE IS HE?” What followed was the triumphant, "THERE HE IS!!!"

Carnegie never really wanted to quit. But he understandably found himself tiring more easily upon entering his 80s. Realizing that the dramatic finish to the 2006 "500" would be hard to top – Sam Hornish Jr. seemingly came out of nowhere to edge young Marco Andretti at the start/finish line – Carnegie decided to call it a career in June 2006.

He would continue to come to the track as a visitor during event times and be besieged by race fans of all ages who wanted to share their memories and thank him for his contributions.

His contributions spread far beyond the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was covering qualifications for the inaugural Ontario (Calif.) 500 in 1970 for what was then WFBM-TV (now WRTV), of which he was the longtime sports director, when he was quickly pressed into service.

Carnegie actually travelled the circuit for a couple of years after that, announcing all of the United States Auto Club national championship races. He was a real friend to USAC, as well as to the Speedway, never failing to show up for any kind of press announcement over a period of many years and always willing to interview a driver on camera about an upcoming race.

He was eventually to be inducted into a variety of Halls of Fame, in the fields of both motor racing and broadcasting.

The impact of Tom Carnegie has been immeasurable, and his work will never be forgotten.

Carnegie is survived by his wife, D.J., and children Blair, Charlotte and Robert.

Services are pending.

Posted on: February 10, 2011 9:27 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 9:30 pm

Media Day recap

Posted By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The first full day of "Speedweeks' activities is in the book after Thursday's Media Day at Daytona.

Not much was broken in the way of news with a few stories of note to report as we've outlined throughout the day here on the "Eye on NASCAR" blog. Trevor Bayne will not be allowed to be considered for Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year since he's only scheduled to run 17 races for the Wood Brothers. However NASCAR may waive off the rule of drivers being allowed only seven races to maintain their rookie status and allow Bayne to run for the ROY honor in 2012.

Michael Waltrip will run in the Camping World Truck Series opener next Friday night when he takes the green flag in the NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona. 

And the media has spoken (not that anyone should listen) and the consensus picks for 2011 NASCAR championships are Todd Bodine for a repeat title in the truck series, Elliott Sadler in the Nationwide Series and - wait for it - Jimmie Johnson for a sixth straight crown in the Sprint Cup Series.

I asked Johnson about what it meant to be the media pre-season pick for a title - which has only happened once before in his previous five consecutive championships - and in typical Double J style he really didn't put too much emphasis on the selection.

"It's an honor to be recognized and respected," he told me on this morning's edition of "The Morning Drive" on Sirius NASCAR Radio. "But in all honesty it doesn't mean a thing because we still have to do out and do our jobs and earn it, which is never an easy challenge to say the least."

The mounting pressure of the coming season didn't seem to douse the spirits and enthusiasm of any driver and all I encountered were thoroughly enthusiastic about the new year.

Even the sometimes gruff Tony Stewart had an upbeat mood on display as he readies for year number three as an owner-driver.

Friday will finally see Sprint Cup cars on track with two practice sessions slated for the drivers in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout, which will start a field of 25. After the final session Friday night, drivers will pull random numbers for the starting spot in the 75-lap non-points race.

The weather, which was a cruddy 59 degrees and rainy today, is predicted to take a turn for the better with clear skies and a temperature flirting with 70.

Sorry for those of you trapped by Old Man Winter across most of the country.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 10, 2011 6:22 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 6:24 pm

NASCAR drivers open up at Daytona media day

It was NASCAR media day at Daytona on Thursday. Listen in to what many of your favorite drivers had to say.

AJ Allmendinger (16 minutes, 44 seconds)
Brad Keselowski (28 minutes, 13 seconds)
Marcos Ambrose (7 minutes, 35 seconds)
Matt Kenseth (16 minutes, 31 seconds)
Greg Biffle (28 minutes, 55 seconds)
Bobby Labonte (22 minutes, 42 seconds)
Clint Bowyer (22 minutes, 1 second)
Joey Logano (16 minutes)
Jeff Burton (21 minutes, 49 seconds)
Mark Martin (20 minutes, 12 seconds)
Kurt Busch (19 minutes, 37 seconds)
Jamie McMurray (23 minutes, 31 seconds)
Kyle Busch (18 minutes)
Paul Menard (6 minutes, 40 seconds)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (21 minutes, 24 seconds)
Juan Pablo Montoya (19 minutes, 16 seconds)
Carl Edwards (16 minutes, 24 seconds)
Danica Patrick (16 minutes)
Jeff Gordon (22 minutes, 10 seconds)
David Reutimann (19 minutes, 40 seconds)
Denny Hamlin (17 minutes, 23 seconds)
Tony Stewart (23 minutes, 37 seconds)
Kevin Harvick (19 minutes)
Martin Truex Jr. (7 minutes, 17 seconds)
Jimmie Johnson (20 minutes)
Brian Vickers (25 minutes, 41 seconds)
Kasey Kahne (19 minutes)
Michael Waltrip (27 minutes, 43 seconds)

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: February 10, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 5:18 pm

Bayne out of Cup rookie honors

Posted By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Trevor Bayne won't have an opportunity to compete for Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year in 2011.

Although there are no other freshman drivers expected to compete regularly on the series this season, NASCAR has decided that Bayne's plan of running in 17 races for the Wood Brothers will not be enough to qualify him for the honor.

"I'm looking forward to running for the Wood Brothers in the Sprint Cup Series this year and it's an unbelievable opportunity for me," said Bayne, who will also compete for the Nationwide Series title for Roush Fenway Racing. "I'm disappointed in NASCAR's decision about the rookie status deal in Cup but I appreciate them at least considering the idea."

Kevin Conway won last year's Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series but without a full-time effort from a first-year driver planned in 2011 the honor will simply not be awarded rather than amending the rules for a part-time driver like Bayne.

WIth NASCAR's new "pick a series" championship policy in place this year now eliminating a Sprint Cup regular from Nationwide title contention, Bayne has now found himself a championship favorite.

"You here that and it's flattering," said Bayne. "But there are some pretty talented drivers and teams we're going to be racing against like Elliott Sadler  and KHI, Justin Allgaier at Turner Motorsports or Jason Leffler at Turner. It's going to be touch but I think we'll be right in the middle of things hopefully and now our focus is really going hard at trying to win that Nationwide title."

More NASCAR coverage

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 5:19 pm

Change in Johnson's future

Posted By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The driver, crew chief and car number will stay the same but Jimmie Johnson's team will have a different look to it this year.

Jimmie Johnson (AP) Personnel changes among pit crew members will have Johnson relying on a different group of crew members to help him in his quest for a sixth straight title.

Hendrick Motorsports basically held an open competition to find the right mix of pit road personnel for the coming season.

"We're in a very fortunate situation to make big changes," said Johnson. "We've got a very young crop of guys. Situation where guys are earning their way on to the team. We've had a series of competitions and tests to see who is the fastest, who can withstand the pressure. We put a lot of pressure on them to see if somebody was better in that environment than another guy so we're still in the process. I saw a very strong first and second string group of guys."

Johnson sees it as a natural progression of NASCAR as a need to find athletes who can perform at the highest level changes the sport.

"It's going to be a much different look with our guys,' Johnson said. "You're going to see some real athletes. These guys are the real deal, young, athletic, all have sports backgrounds. That will happen from a physical standpoint and also from a pressure standpoint, they've played important games in the past, they know how to deal with those emotions."

Hendrick Motorsports is in the midst of constructing a state of the art outdoor pit crew training facility on its Concord, North Carolina campus.

Listen to Jimmie Johnson at media day (20 minutes)

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 5:18 pm

Waltrip to race Daytona trucks

Posted by Pete Pistone
From Team Release


Mooresville, N.C. (February 10, 2011) - With 25 plus years in the sport, it isn't often Michael Waltrip experiences something new in NASCAR.

But next week in Daytona the two-time Daytona 500 champion enters his first Camping World Truck Series race on the 2.5-mile Florida highbanks.

Vision Aviation Racing (VAR) announced today that Waltrip will pilot the No. 15 NASCAR.COM RaceView/Wounded Warrior Project/Vision Airlines Tundra in the Feb. 18 truck race.

"I love Daytona and I've always wanted to race a truck there," said Waltrip. "Those races are so fun to watch on television or be a part of in the broadcast booth. Last year's winner hit the wall on the last lap and the guy who finished second spun out. It was an amazing last lap. I want to be part of that."

The No. 15's sponsor NASCAR.COM RaceView is the most comprehensive Sprint Cup race experience online allowing fans to watch the action and listen to live in-car audio right from a computer. The brand new and improved RaceView gives fans control of live race coverage with the ability to customize their entire experience. RaceView features upgraded virtual video and even more camera angles including pit road.

NASCAR.COM will also be launching Truck Race Buddy, content which will provide live feeds of racing action from four different camera angles and a mosaic view, all featuring the natural sounds of the at-track action . Waltrip is always happy to be a part of getting fans closer to the action. "There is so much action in the truck series, and it is really difficult to capture it all. NASCAR has always been all about getting fans closer to the action and now with this new content from NASCAR.COM they will be able to do just that."

Vision Airlines and The Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to honoring and empowering wounded service men and women, will also be partnering up with VAR and Waltrip for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 in Daytona.

The Vision Aviation Racing team begins its first season of truck racing after sweeping the top two spots with drivers Justin Johnson and Dusty Davis in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The team won 74% of the 19 races it entered last year and plans to make an impact in the ultra-competitive truck series.

"With Michael's proven track record at Daytona and our exciting partnerships with NASCAR.COM RaceView, The Wounded Warrior Project, and Vision Airlines we at VAR are looking forward to great things in Daytona," said team General Manager, Tom Davis.

The VAR announcement also means Waltrip will race in all three major NASCAR series in Daytona - another first for Waltrip. Waltrip will also race the No. 15 NAPA Toyota in the Daytona 500 and the No. 99 Pastrana-Waltrip Toyota in the Nationwide race.

"On my way to retirement I seem to have gotten really busy," laughed Waltrip who owns two top-five finishes in eight truck starts. "I've always wanted to run all three races down in Daytona so now after 25 years I get my chance. I've come so close to winning truck races and I would like to get that accomplished."

Waltrip's VAR Tundra carries a special paint scheme to commemorate his 2001 Daytona 500 victory driving for car owner Dale Earnhardt who died in a turn four accident on the final lap. 

While he's reduced his NASCAR schedule he hasn't slowed down. Waltrip raced in Dubai earlier this month and took the "Michael Waltrip Comedy Garage" to appearances in Kansas and Canada. He plans a handful of superspeedway races in 2011 and more international racing. On Feb. 1 Waltrip's book "In the Blink of an Eye" went on sale chronicling the events of the 2001 Daytona 500 as well as his life and the challenges building Michael Waltrip Racing.

The RaceView truck is 1-0 in NCWTS competition.

More NASCAR coverage

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 10, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 5:20 pm

Earnhardt Jr. still confident

Posted By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Dale Earnhardt Jr . hasn't won a Sprint Cup Series race in nearly three years but the Hendrick Motorsports driver isn't doubting his ability to contend.

Junior met the press during Thursday's Medua Day activities at Daytona and says despite the lack of success since joining Hendrick he is confident in his talents and the resources Rick Hendrick has given him to succeed.

"I don't really doubt myself," Earnhardt said. "I never put the responsibility on anybody else. I never doubted (former crew chief Lance (McGrew ) or my team because I think Lance and Mark (Martin ) are going to run great. Mark is going to give that team to where they want to be and be competitive like they want to be. I don't doubt that at all."

Earnhardt believes there is plenty of time ahead in his racing career at Hendrick to get things back on track and has high hopes for this season with new crew chief Steve Letarte.

"I've never doubted myself," Earnhardt said. "I know what I've accomplished in the past. I know what I've been able to do. I know what I can do. It's just a matter of figuring out - things changed and something about how I'm working with the COT and how I'm working as a driver hasn't been productive and we've got to figure out what that means and why that's the case."

Listen to Dale Earnhardt Jr. at media day (21 minutes, 24 seconds)

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Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 5:20 pm

Martin not commenting on future

Mark Martin (Getty Images)

Posted By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Mark Martin doesn't have his future set past 2011 and the veteran driver isn't in any hurry to make a decision.

Martin will finish his career at Hendrick Motorsports this season before making way for Kasey Kahne to take over the No. 5 Chevrolet when he joins the team in 2012.

But Martin insists his driving days are far from over but at this point is not concerned about where he'll drive beyond this year.

"I'm not talking about 2012 until I have something to talk about," Martin told reporters at Thursday's Media Day session in Daytona. "I'm not worried about it. I am embracing 2011. I'm more excited than I can remember being to get back to the race track where the competitors are, where the fans are. This is the best part. I'm living the best part of my life now."

There hasn't been much speculation on where Martin might land should he continue in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012. However with a limited Nationwide Series schedule on tap this season with Turner Motorsports, there is the possibility of Martin running NASCAR's number two series full-time in 2012.

Listen to Mark Martin at media day (20 minutes, 12 seconds)

More NASCAR coverage

Category: Auto Racing
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