Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 10, 2011

Festivity Suggestions for the Indianapolis 500 Pre-Race in the 100th Anniversary Year

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

Growing up in Indianapolis in May meant most Memorial Day weekends were spent at the track. My family always got there very early in the day so we could enjoy all the pre-race festivities. There were rarely lulls in the celebration. There were always live marching bands from all over the state and from other parts of the country. Parades of celebrities, queen’s court, military personnel, drivers and others were always well timed.

Although those components are still a part of the pre-race, where did all the live bands go? Is Jim Nabors even accompanied by a live band anymore? It has not been the same since before Tom Carnegie retired. Now it seems like one long gap after another with not as much continuity as in the past.

These days they have the big flag in turn one and folks holding up shiny cards, but the rest of the presentation has gone stale. Here are but a few suggestions to liven it up:

-Get live marching bands back into the show.

-Incorporate modern special effects.

-Bring back the cannons

-Keep the balloons

-Find someone other than Flo to sing God Bless America. Find a hip, modern star to do it. Let’s let Flo sit in the suite with Mari and have some cocktails.

-Get Indiana’s own Straight No Chaser to sing the National Anthem. They will nail it and it will be respectful and memorable.

-Incorporate a moving speech about the purpose of Memorial Day that rivals the late Jim Phillipe’s ‘Homage’ speech.

-A.J. Foyt driving the pace car with Al, Sr. and Rick Mears as the wingmen in trailing pace cars.

-Have a parade of former winners. Hell, have a parade of all former drivers.

I know there is talk of making the pre-race this year more memorable than at any time in history, and I sincerely hope they are serious.



  1. Props for the Straight No Chaser reference/idea!

    The Purdue Marching band does accompany Jim–are you wanting multiple marching bands pre-race?

    Comment by Zachary — February 10, 2011 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

  2. 1. I totally agree on the “86” for Florence Henderson. If you want a “native” Hoosier, get Sandi Patty (at least she can sing.)
    2. For that matter, when did the pre-race ceremonies ever call for a concert? Put that on the inside stage if you must,
    3. No one will ever replace Jim Phillipe’s soliloquy: Why not play a recorded version for the 100th Anniversary?
    4. The three four-time winners leading the field is a great idea. Pace lap privlege to Mr. Foyt. (Although, an interesting sidelight might be to let the three of them have a 3 lap “trophy dash” in pace cars prior to the start.)
    5. The only “new” addition to the opening ceremonies that I DO like are the driver introductions. Beyond that, how about we scale it back to the formerly traditional 20-30 minutes, and let the PA system “call” it for ABC. (Back during the Tony Hulman tenure, you could set your watch by where in the ceremonies you were.) Stop letting ABC dictate. They can run all the commercials they want during the parade and pace laps.

    Comment by SkipinSC — February 11, 2011 @ 9:10 pm | Reply

  3. Straight No Chaser would be PERFECT for the National Anthem! These guys can hit any note and places more emphasis on quality rather than ego. Great recommendation…

    Comment by Adam — February 13, 2011 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  4. Agree with item #3 above.

    Comment by jandj — February 13, 2011 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  5. “On this Memorial Day weekend, we pause here in a moment of silence to pay homage to those individuals who have given their lives unselfishly and unafraid to make it possible for us to witness, as free men, the world’s greatest sporting event.” – Jim Phillippe

    Comment by Kurt St. Angelo — May 21, 2011 @ 1:50 am | Reply

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