Late Indy 500 announcer Carnegie honored
A new public address stand honoring the late Tom Carnegie was unveiled Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The veteran broadcaster known to generations as the voice of the Indianapolis 500 died in February at age 91 following an illness. He began announcing at the speedway in 1946, and continued for 61 years.
He broadcast for years from what was called the ''Fruit Stand'' for its modest appearance, but the new Tom Carnegie Public Address Stand is high-tech.
Carnegie's smooth voice and signature lines became as much a part of the track as cars and drivers. The phrases he was best known for were ''Heeeeez-on-it!'' for the start of qualifying runs and ''It's a new track record!'' Highlights of his career at the speedway and interviews with him were shown on the big screens during the ceremony, which took place near the start/finish line.
Carnegie was born in Norwalk, Conn., as Carl Kenagy, which was still his legal name. He began his radio career in 1942 at WOWO in Fort Wayne, where he took the name Tom Carnegie because the station manager thought it sounded better.
The honor came on Pole Day, which also has been named for him.
BRISCOE CRASHES: Team Penske scrambled to get Ryan Briscoe's backup car ready after he crashed during Saturday morning's practice session less than three hours before Indianapolis 500 qualifying.
The rear end of Briscoe's car hit the wall hard Saturday morning. He was taken by ambulance to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's medical center. He was diagnosed with a bruised left knee and was cleared to drive by track medical officials.
Briscoe said the crash was caused by cold tires. But he made it back on the 2.5-mile oval in a backup car with about 20 minutes left in the final scheduled practice before the May 29 race.
Twenty-four spots on the 33-car starting grid are expected to be filled on Saturday. Qualifying will conclude Sunday.
BACK ON TRACK: Simona de Silvestro was cleared to drive two days after a fiery crash burned her hands and put her availability for qualifying in doubt.
The 22-year-old Swiss driver was back on the track early Saturday with a backup car. She completed 32 laps in practice, with a high speed of 223.357 mph, 39th among the 41 cars.
De Silvestro lost control of the car Thursday and it flipped, burst into flames and slid down the track upside down. She has second degree burns on the back of her right hand and superficial burns on the back of her left hand and nose.
SLOW DANICA: Danica Patrick said this week she's doing everything well except qualifying this season, and that's cost her during races.
She hasn't qualified higher than 17th this year. She had been in the middle of the pack during Indy 500 practices until Saturday morning, when she posted a best time of 226.446 mph, good for 14th.
Perhaps Indianapolis is just what she needs. She has started and finished in the top 10 in five of her six races at the 2 1/2-mile oval, leading 19 laps in 2005.
Cliff Brunt can be reached at http://twitter.com/cliffbruntap.