'Voice Of The Speedway' Tom Carnegie Dies

Posted at 1:47 PM, Feb 11, 2011
and last updated 2021-11-23 13:43:16-05

Tom Carnegie, the longtime voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has died at the age of 91.

Carnegie passed away on Friday, with family members by his side, after a long illness.

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Carnegie, a Connecticut native whose legal name is Carl Kenagy, got his start announcing an Indianapolis antique auto show at the age of 26, where then-Speedway President Wilbur Shaw heard his voice.

Shaw and new Speedway owner Tony Hulman asked Carnegie to join the public address team at IMS in 1946.

"Nobody gave me any help or anything like that," he said in an interview with 6News several years ago. "I just had names and numbers, like calling a football game. And I somehow got through it and satisfied Wilbur Shaw and Tony Hulman because they asked me to come back next year, and I've been there ever since."

WRTV, or WFBM, as it was known then, first aired the Indianapolis 500 in 1949, later hiring Carnegie as sports director in 1953.

He began the tradition of broadcasting trackside during the month of May.

"One of the first things that I wanted to do was to have a trackside show and the station was more than happy to give me the time," Carnegie said years later. "I was also grateful that we were the first station to have trackside, a daily program from the Speedway."

During his tenure as the head of WRTV's sport department, Carnegie brought the world to Indianapolis when he traveled to Japan to cover the 1964 Olympics, then to Mexico in 1968.

After Jim Clark won the 1965 Indianapolis 500, Carnegie helped produce the documentary "The Flying Scott," the first driver-feature shown on national television in the United States.

But it was more than motorsports for Carnegie. He was on the PA for the famous 1954 Milan High School Championship, leading to a cameo in the iconic Indiana basketball movie "Hoosiers."

His passion for the sport helped start the annual Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle.

Carnegie retired from WRTV in 1985 but continued as the voice of the Speedway until 2006.

His signature calls while at IMS -- "He's on it" and "It's a new track record" -- were heard countless times during his tenure.

"When you're talking about the Indianapolis 500 and the personalities that have made this event, I don't think anyone will be able to equal Tom Carnegie," said Mario Andretti.

"You could take him to Daytona, you could take him to Sonoma, it doesn't matter," said NASCAR star Tony Stewart. "You take him and put him on a microphone at a race track and if you know anything about racing, you know who that is on the other end of the microphone."

Tributes to Carnegie can be left in the comment section below and on 6News' Facebook page.