An Appreciation of Jim Nabors …

Posted: May 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

1972_Jim_Nabors

By: Jeff Majeske 

Special Correspondent to SpeedwaySightings.com 

Jim Nabors has been singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” literally for as long as I can remember.

His first performance was in 1972 – the first year I’m sure I was at the track (I might’ve gone in 1971) – and came about by accident.

Tony Hulman, perhaps on a whim, asked Nabors if he wanted “to do the song.” Nabors accepted, thinking the Speedway savior meant “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The photo above is from Nabors’ performance in 1972. I love everything about it – his checkered coat, the cravat, the ladder, the ridiculously large credential and backup holder, and the piece of paper that presumably has the lyrics.

This year’s performance will be Nabors’ last.

“The first time that I ever sang at the Indy 500 in 1972, the warmth I got from the crowd immediately made me become a lifetime Hoosier; and I’ve always cherished it,” Nabors said in a news release issued in March. “I’ll see you all in May, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my health doesn’t permit me to travel very much anymore. So I’ll be retiring from singing ‘Back Home Again’ at the Indy 500 after this year.”

If you grew up in Indiana, particularly Indianapolis, the song has special meaning, and it’s hard not to get a little choked up when Nabors sings.

I sing it each time I cross into Indiana from Michigan, which causes the other passengers to get choked up as well. (OK; it’s more like gagging; I guess I’m not quite as good a singer as Jim Nabors.)

The forecast for race day looks excellent; let’s hope it holds. And let’s hope Mr. Nabors is in fine voice one more time.

Did you know?

• Nabors, 83, has performed at the Indianapolis 500 every year since 1987 with the exception of 2007 and 2012 races that he missed due to illness

• Has performed the song 34 times in person at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

• Always accompanied by the Purdue “All American” Marching Band

Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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