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Tom Carnegie, Voice of the Indy 500

Updated on November 20, 2014
View of the pylon at IMS
View of the pylon at IMS | Source

The Voice of the Indianapolis 500 Is Silent

Tom Carnegie September 25, 1919 - February 11, 2011

If you were anywhere in the world from 1946 until 2006, and tuned in to the radio on the last Sunday in May, chances are, you heard the voice of Tom Carnegie, "The Voice of the Indianapolis 500.

One morning last year, our paper carried a notice that began "A.J. Foyt lost a friend. Indianapolis Motor Speedway lost an icon."

My husband read it first. Not being the Indy fan that I am, he didn't recognize the name. He began, "Do you know someone by the name of 'Tom C-a-r-n-" I interrupted him with "Oh, Tom Carnegie. Please don't tell me it's an obituary." It was.

The famous announcer, who was 91, was known the world over as "The Voice of the Indianapolis 500" from 1946 until he retired in 2006. And still is. Probably ever will be.

What a voice he was. Listening to him call the race was a family tradition when I was growing up. And, from a purely personal point of view, I couldn't help thinking, "Daddy will be waiting for him." I really think he will. And he won't be alone. Millions have special memories of hearing his voice.

I'll be missing the Voice of the 500 this year. So will a lot of others. Read on to find out why.

Page created 02/12/2011.


Tom Carnegie Day

At the 2011 Indianapolis 500

The late Tom Carnegie was honored during the centennial year of the Indianapolis 500. Pole Day, May 21, 2011, was designated as Tom Carnegie Day. Here is a list of the events from that day:

Special Tom Carnegie Day Tributes

A new Public Address stand was named in Carnegie's honor

Throughout the day, recordings of the announcer's well known voice were played over the speedway's PA system.

Video highlights of his career were shown on the big screens around the track.

According to an Indianapolis Motor Speedway press release, "The activities honoring Carnegie are the highlight of a full day of fan-friendly fun at IMS celebrating the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 " on May 21.

Biographical Information

More than six decades of race fans inexorably associated the beautiful baritone timber of Carnegie's voice, with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. For many, it was his special style that made much of the drama that was Indy a reality.

What led this man into the field of sports announcing? Two things must have figured prominently. First, he loved listening to the broadcasts of young Ronald Regan, and said that he was infulenced by this. Second, he excelled at debating in college, during which time, he won a sports casting contest.

His family name was Kenagy, and his parents had named him Carl. He became 'Tom Carnegie' when his boss at a radio station suggested it as a professional moniker early in his career.

He was 'discovered' by Tony Hulman, who had just (in 1945) bought the Indianpolis Motor Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker, the famous WWI flying Ace and race car driver. Surprisingly, Carnegie called the Indianapolis races for the first 20 years FOR FREE, so he was already widely known as the "Voice of the Indianapolis 500" before receiving his first paycheck from the brickyard!


The Most Famous Words in Racing


Gentlemen, Start Your Engines


It's a Neeeeeeew Traaaaack Re-cord

Those Famous Words

Everyone Knows about the traditional command to start engines, and most anyone can (and has) said it. Joyfully for me, in recent years, the need has arisen to modify the command to "Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" The other famous words are OWNED by the great Tom Carnegie.


At Indianapolis, drivers earn a spot in the race during four lap qualification runs. They have a couple of laps to come up to speed, and then will take the green flag for the first of their four qualifying laps. As a driver would approach the start/finish line for the first of his (or her!) qualifying laps, Tom's voice would boom "HEZONIT" (he's on it) over the IMS PA system.

It's a Neeeew Traaack Re-cord!

Tom knew (down to the thousandth of a second) what the current one and four lap qualifying records were, and the instant one of those was broken, everyone else would know it, too. His famous voice would almost instantaneously proclaim, "It's a new track record," as only he could proclaim it.

Photo: By Stuart Seeger (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Did you ever hear Tom Carnegie call The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?

Did YOU Ever?

See results

Did you know?

Did you know any of these things about Tom Carnegie?

His given name was Carl Kenagy

His father was a Baptist minister

He was the actual announcer for the real-life game that the movie "Hoosiers" was based on.

So far, there have been 94 Indianapolis 500's. Carnegie called 61 of them.

According to IMS, the famous A.J. Foyt drove in the 500 a record 35 consecutive times between 1958 and 1992. Tom Carnegie called 12 races before Foyt even arrived and another 14 after his last start.

In Tom's first year (1946) a new track record of 134.449 mph was set by Ralph Hepburn.

In 1996 (50 years later) he anounced "It's a New Track Record" of 237.498 mph for Arie Luyendyk

Of Interest - on eBay

Some related items being auctioned on eBay

I remember . . .

I remember listening to The Indianapolis 500 on the radio, with Tom Carnegie announcing, with my family when I was very young.

I remember seeing my father smile at the words "... and They're racing again at Indianapolis!"

I remember, in later years, when they started televising the race, turning down the volume on the TV, and listening to the 'real' race announcer on the radio. This wasn't always Carnegie, but they would cut to the TRACK Announcer, and that was HIM.

I remember the first time I heard Tom Carnegie announce LIVE at THE SPEEDWAY, and what a thrill it was to anticipate, and finally hear (in person!) "Hezonit!"

The Indy 500

will never be the same

without the voice of

Tom Carnegie

In Memory

This lens is in memory of and meant as a tribute to a man who, year after year, painted word pictures so vivid of a great sporting event that his listeners felt they'd been there.

He made you feel as if you were seeing and experiencing it with him, an ability which must have been especially appreciated by our troops in the field when they were able to receive the signal. (Yes, the Indianapolis Motorsports Network signal went out worldwide.) His was a remarkable talent, and he will be long remembered.

Thank you, Mr. Carnegie.

Rest peacefully.

Know that you will be well remembered.

In Memory

A new video, "In Memory of Tom Carnegie."

The 100th Anniversary of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing - The Indianapolis 500: A Century of Excitement

2011 was the 100th anniversary of the very first Indianapolis 500.

I can't help but think Tom Carnegie was watching as the traditional 33 cars made a flying start at Noon on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

Tom Carnegie's voice will be missed.

May he rest in peace.

Do you have any memories of hearing the resonant baritone tones of Tom Carnegie call a race?

If not, hope, you've enjoyed this lens, and will let me know here... or even just say hello.

Memories or comments?

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    • MrMojo01 profile image


      6 years ago

      Always enjoyed listening to him.

    • gamecheathub profile image


      7 years ago

      I never got to see the Indy 500 in person, but Mr. Carnegie will always be a legend. After the split with NASCAR, racing just hasn't been the same for me.

    • CruiseReady profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from East Central Florida

      @Monika Weise: Thank YOU for visiting. It was nice to hear from another Tom Carnegie fan. I listened to him many times, but only made it to the track a couple of times. Those were special years for me.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 

      7 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      I never visited the track, but I grew up listening to Tom Carnegie. He is missed. Thanks for the memories.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I thought at first this was an article about the man who donated all the carnegie libraries and halls so was surprised when the article set off toward the Indianapolis 500. Great article on a man who brought joy to a great many people.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I didn't know anything about this man before my visit here. Well done.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice lens to remember him.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens - well done!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a great tribute lens, I never realised that it was the same guy each indy 500. I'll miss hearing him next year

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      7 years ago from Scotland

      Being from the UK had not heard of this legend, so thankyou

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great guy. and voice Tom brought to motor sports. He will be remembered.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great tribute to a legend!

    • CruiseReady profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from East Central Florida

      @Bookmama2: Oh, yes! Tell them to get those tickets NOW. How wonderful it would be to get to go in 2011 I'm sure the pre-race festivities will be absolutely incredible this year!

    • Bus Stop Toy Shop profile image

      Bus Stop Toy Shop 

      7 years ago

      As a Non-American, I'd never heard of Tom Carnegie, but it was really interesting to read about him. Knowing how much my favourite commentators mean to my enjoyment of sport, I can see why he'll be sadly missed by motor sport fans in the US.

    • Bookmama2 profile image


      7 years ago

      My husband and two sons have gone to Indy. But they've only been recently so they never heard Tom Carnegie. Thanks for the education about this great man and also the tip that 2011 is the Indy centennial. I'll have to let "the boys" know to get their tickets early this year.

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 

      7 years ago

      Tom Carnegie will always be remembered. Thanks for sharing your memories of him.

      *Blessed by a Squid Angel.*

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Enjoyed the memories. Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute.


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