Later this month, NUVO will present 500 facts about the Indy 500. Between now and then, we'll be sharing five facts per day from our upcoming story.
This morning, we received a photo of the woman who coined the phrase "the greatest spectacle in racing” in 1955 — so let's check out some broadcasting trivia from the '50s:
406. Sid Collins began his longest-to-date run as the “Voice of the 500” in 1951.
Although Mutual was no longer the official network, flagship WIBC-AM sent the signal to roughly two-dozen stations in the network. Wilbur Shaw tapped Collins after Sid had co-anchored the broadcast the year prior.
407. The IMS Radio Network was born in 1952.
All the gear and on-air talent came from WIBC. Donald Davidson, writing for the Speedway’s official site, notes: “There has been a perpetuating myth, persisting for over 50 years, that the race was always broadcast in its entirety. In fact, the IMS Network’s debut was with a virtual duplicate of Mutual’s format of 30 minutes at the beginning, with a 15-minute lead-in to the 11 a.m. start, another 30 minutes at the end, and a series of 15-minute updates slotted in between regular programming.”
408. The first “flag-to-flag” broadcast aired in 1953.
The coverage was heard on over 100 stations.
409. Tom Carnegie called the Milan game.
Track announcer Carnegie was the game play-by-play man for the Indiana Boys High School Basketball tourney, first broadcast on television in Indy in 1953. The “Voice of the Speedway” worked with Howdie Bell and Tony Hinkle during his time on the mic for the tournament. In 1954, he handled broadcast duties for the Milan upset of Muncie Central, the game that saw Bobby Plump sink the winner and would eventually inspire the film Hoosiers.
Carnegie also had very fond memories of calling the back-to-back wins for Crispus Attucks high in 1955 and ’56. Attucks was the first all-Black school in the U.S. to win a state hoops title.
410. The phrase “The greatest spectacle in racing” was coined in 1955.
Marion native Alice Greene was a copywriter for WIBC in the ‘50s, and suggested the “spectacle” tag as an “outcue” for the network prior to commercial breaks. “Stay tuned for the greatest spectacle in racing” has been in use since Sid Collins first uttered the phrase during the ‘55 broadcast.