Thursday, May 07, 2009

Even the Media has History at the Indianapolis 500

Even the most casual fans know and understand the traditions at the Indianapolis 500: the yard of bricks, the bottle of milk for the winner, Jim Nabors singing "Back Home Again in Indiana."

But there's even history among the media here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sports writer Chris Economacki has been writing a weekly racing column for the National Speed Sport News for over 50 years. The guy is in his 80s now, and he's the only writer in the entire room of a few hundred journalists who still uses a manual typewriter. The guy had such an impact on racing, they named the media's conference room the Economacki Press Conference Center. He's such a fixture at the race, the Speedway keeps a manual typewriter just for him. And when he shows up in May, he's in the pole position, far left side of the front row.

Race announcer Howdy Bell is still here too. If you grew up like me listening to the race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, Howdy was a familiar voice, giving us the stats and place breakdowns. In fact, the first time I met Howdy, it wasn't because I knew who he was, it was because I recognized his voice.

"I know that voice," I said to him, introducing myself. He was working in sales for WICR radio, the Classical/Fine Arts station at the University of Indianapois. We chatted, and bumped into each other a few times throughout the year.

Now, although Howdy is not with the IMS Radio Network anymore, he is still doing trackside reports for WKHY, a rock station in Lafayette, Ind. I got to chat with him for a few minutes again, catch each other up with what we've been doing, and he even told me to see him if I had any questions about the race and working up here in the Media Center.

Now that's class.

Previous posts about the 500

I'm Sitting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center
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