During the days leading up to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, we will be bringing readers some favorite memories of the race courtesy of the book “Indy 500 Memories; An Oral History of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” written by Art Garner and Marc Spiegel. The book is available from Amazon and the SPEED SPORT Store.
The following is an excerpt from Jim Nabors’ recollection of his days at the Indianapolis 500:
Mr. (Tony) Hulman came over in the stands to say hello to Mr. Bill Harrah (of Harrah’s Casinos) and he recognized me. He’d seen my show in Lake Tahoe. He said, ‘Hey, do you want to sing a song?’ And I said, ‘OK.’
So I got up and I thought it was the Star-Spangled Banner. And I went down on the track with him and I asked the band, ‘What key do you do this in? They said, ‘We only got one key.’ I said, ‘Oh no, the Star Spangled Banner has two keys.’ And they said, ‘Well you’re not signing that.’ And I said, ‘Oh, what am I signing?’ ‘Back Home Again in Indiana,’ was the reply. I said, ‘I’m from Alabama, you still want me to do it?’ He (Hulman) said, ‘Well do you know it?’ I said, ‘I know the melody, but I don’t know the words.’
Just to be sure, I didn’t get a rehearsal, or anything, I wrote the lyrics on my hand so I wouldn’t forget them.
Follow “Indy 500 Memories; An Oral History of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Indy500Memories.