When the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil welcomes race fans with the traditional singing of “(Back Home Again in) Indiana,” a distinct Indianapolis flavor will mark the occasion.
Josh Kaufman, Indianapolis native and winner of the sixth season of television’s “The Voice,” will perform the beloved song at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during prerace ceremonies May 29, with accompaniment by the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, a fixture of the Central Indiana community for 30 years.
“The singing of ‘(Back Home Again in) Indiana’ is a signature of the Indianapolis 500 and one that our fans cherish as a distinctly ‘Hoosier’ moment,” said J. Douglas Boles, IMS president. “Since Jim Nabors’ final performance in 2014, our goal is to select performers who have an understanding of the song’s meaning and significant importance to the Indianapolis 500 experience and the race’s fans. Josh Kaufman’s impressive voice and local ties, along with support from the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, will deliver just that.”
“(Back Home Again in) Indiana” – the song originally was just called “Indiana” – was written in 1917 by lyricist Ballard MacDonald and composer James Hanley, incorporating many lyrics and musical themes from the 1897-written “On the Banks of the Wabash,” the state’s official song.
According to IMS historian Donald Davidson, the song may have been heard at the race as early as 1919 (played by a trackside brass band) and was first sung in 1946, about an hour before the green flag by New York Metropolitan Opera performer James Melton. Around 1949 it was moved to closer to the start of the race, where it remains today.
Fan favorite Jim Nabors retired after the 2014 race, having performed the song live 35 times starting in 1972. The group Straight No Chaser performed the song prior to the 2015 Indianapolis 500.
Tickets are now on sale for the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course on May 14 and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at ims.com/tickets, by phone at (800) 822-INDY or at the IMS ticket office, 4790 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, Ind., weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET.
IMS Museum unveils new name and brand
The museum on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds will now be known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, aligning its name with an unrivaled collection of automobiles and racing artifacts that follow the history of motor racing, Indy car racers and the story of the extraordinary people who helped create the American automotive industry.
Adding the image of the top of the Borg-Warner Trophy – the iconic prize featuring the likenesses of every Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner – and bold letters and colors to the museum’s new logo represents a first step at enriching the visitor experience to the world-renowned museum.
"With 100 years of running and 60 years of collecting the world's greatest treasures of motor sport racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is the true gateway to the ‘Racing Capital of the World,’” said Anton H. “Tony” George, president of the museum’s board of directors.
Following a master planning initiative by Indianapolis architects Schmidt Associates, a plan is in place to update and redesign the museum and exhibit its large array of valuable artifacts and racing memorabilia.
Country music star Evans to serve as grand marshal for Barber race
Country music star Sara Evans will be grand marshal and sing the national anthem for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham April 24. Evans is known as one of country music’s top female vocalists and has earned her way to multiple chart-topping records.
Her chart-topping hits include "Suds in the Bucket” and "Born to Fly," which was named Video of the Year. Evans’ most recent album, “Slow Me Down,” was released in 2014. She is married to Jay Barker, former University of Alabama quarterback and current on-air sports personality for WJOX-FM.
Visit barbermotorsports.com for more information on the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race weekend April 22-24. In addition to the seventh annual Verizon IndyCar Series race, all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy development series will be in competition.
Penske to be honored with IMRRC’s Argetsinger Award for contributions to racing
Roger Penske, whose career as an Indy car team owner has garnered more race wins and Indianapolis 500 championships than anyone in the sport’s history, will be honored in June by the International Motor Racing Research Center with the 2016 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports.
As Team Penske celebrates its 50th anniversary in motorsports, Penske will receive the award at a gala dinner June 30 at the internationally renowned Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., during the IMSA sports car weekend at nearby Watkins Glen International. Previous recipients of the award have been NASCAR great Richard Petty and fellow Indy car team owner Chip Ganassi.
“I am honored to be selected this year to receive the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award from the International Motor Racing Research Center,” Penske said. “The IMRRC does a terrific job of maintaining and documenting the heritage of motorsports, and we appreciate all they do to chronicle and preserve racing history.”