I think it is fair to say that Tom Carnegie probably stands out as one of the most iconic personalities in the entire history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, certainly since World War II.
While one has to consider that many of those who have only ever watched the Indianapolis 500 on television or listened to the radio broadcasts conceivably might not even be aware of who he is (hard to believe!), for the legions who have attended the race or qualifications over the last seven or eight decades, that thundering voice has stirred enough memories and emotion to have long since elevated him to the status of a legend.
Ask any track-going fan to reel off a few names of people who they consider synonymous with the track, and surely “Tom Carnegie” would have to be among the first names one would hear.
We all have our favorite Carnegie stories and our memories concerning that extraordinary voice and his legendary “calls.” Personally, I well remember several times in the 1970s when I would be in the pit area at around 7:45 a.m. on the first day of Qualifications and the public address would fire up for the day. You’d hear a click and a hum, followed by Carnegie saying, “Testing, one, two, three … GOOD MORNING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,” after which would come a huge roar from the crowd. I would think, wow, his voice creates so much excitement and evokes such a wave of nostalgia and even comfort—all is right with the world—that he even gets an ovation with a sound check!
Not surprisingly, word of his untimely passing has traveled quickly and tributes and stories about Tom have been pouring in all day. With that said, I would like to hear from you. If you have a favorite Carnegie memory or anecdote concerning a personal brush with ‘The Man,’ then please share it with me below.