News & Multimedia

Top 10 Moments of 2017 - #5: Cornelison Brings House Down

Editor's Note: This is the sixth of a series of 10 vignettes in which IMS Senior Communications Manager Paul Kelly picks his top 10 moments of 2017 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Back Home Again in Indiana” is a short song with a long legacy at IMS.

It’s not the national anthem. It’s not even the official state song of Indiana. But it has meant so much to so many people since Metropolitan Opera star James Melton started the tradition of singing the song on Race Morning before the Indianapolis 500 in 1946.

Actor-entertainer Jim Nabors became an institution of IMS, the state of Indiana and Hoosiers everywhere with his 36 stirring renditions of the song from 1972-2014. It wasn’t an enviable task to follow Nabors in the performance of the song, but Straight No Chaser and Josh Kaufman each did a fine job in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

In 2017, IMS invited Jim Cornelison to perform “Back Home Again in Indiana” before the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. While Straight No Chaser and Kaufman were known as entertainers and singers based in Indiana, Cornelison was not a familiar face to many fans.

Cornelison studied voice at Indiana University. Race fans who also follow hockey knew Cornelison from his inspiring renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before every Chicago Blackhawks game. But Cornelison was far from a household name.

It’s safe to say that every Indianapolis 500 fan knows Jim Cornelison now.

His rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana” raised goose bumps the size of dimes on the bodies of the more than 250,000 fans attending the race at IMS and millions watching on ABC and listening on the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.

From the opening notes, everyone knew the performance was special. But the chills reached a fever pitch when Cornelison held the final note of the final word of the song seemingly for hours, as “HOME!” reverberated around more than 1,000 acres of the magnificent facility in a rich tenor.

The crowd erupted in appreciative applause. IMS received a deluge of complimentary phone calls, emails and social media posts about Cornelison’s performance. A new star was born, and IMS President Doug Boles quickly extended an invitation to Cornelison to sing again in May 2018.

While Cornelison wowed the crowd on Race Morning, IMS staffers got a sneak preview of the magic the day before the race.

The Media Staff continued to work on the fourth floor of the Media Center during a variety of pre-race rehearsals by various entertainers Saturday, May 26. It’s routine stuff, the final dry run. We all heard the opening notes of “Back Home Again in Indiana” on the Public Address and thought little of it. It was just rehearsal, after all.

Then Cornelison opened his mouth to sing. All of us on the front row of the Media Center stopped work almost immediately and looked at each other, eyes staring and mouths agape. Then we instinctively rushed from our laptops to the outside balcony adjacent to our workspace to hear the rest of the song without glass muffling the sweet sounds.

We all knew something special was happening. And we couldn’t wait to hear the crowd’s reaction the next morning.

No one ever will replace the legendary Jim Nabors in our hearts and minds. But hopefully another super-nice guy named Jim will keep the final Sunday in May clear on his calendar for years to come.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Day 5
Top 10 Moments of 2017 - #5: Cornelison Brings House Down
“Back Home Again in Indiana” is a short song with a long legacy at IMS. It’s not the national anthem. It’s not even the official state song of Indiana. But it has meant so much to so many people since Metropolitan Opera star James Melton started the tradition of singing the song on Race Morning before the Indianapolis 500 in 1946.
Read More
Related Media
Great Deal For NASCAR Fans At IMS, O'Reilly Raceway Park In July
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis once again are offering special ticket packages, with value-added features, for races in two or three exciting NASCAR divisions July 23-25 for less than $100. The packages, available starting Tuesday, Feb. 16 and for new purchases only, provide fans with special offers on race tickets and food coupons for the Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, July 25 at IMS, the Kroger 200 Nationwide Series race Saturday evening, July 24 and the AAA Insurance 200 Camping World Truck Series race Friday evening, July 23, both at ORP.
Read More
Race Fans Continue To Help Haiti Through IMS Online Auctions
Race fans, teams and drivers from around the world continue to help the people of Haiti, as Indianapolis Motor Speedway online auctions have raised nearly $15,000 for American Red Cross relief efforts in the earthquake-ravaged nation. Among the items up for auction now are a checkered flag signed by IZOD IndyCar Series stars, including Scott Dixon, Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan, and a Fiat Yamaha Team shirt signed by Red Bull Indianapolis GP winners Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo!
Read More
Bernard Named CEO Of Indy Racing League
Randy Bernard, longtime CEO of Professional Bull Riders, Inc., has been named CEO of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. His hiring was announced today by Jeffrey Belskus, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation, the home of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and owner of the Indy Racing League. Bernard (above left) will begin March 1. Video:
Read More
Helmet Signed By Indy 500 Winners Added To Haiti Relief Auction
A helmet signed by 22 Indianapolis 500 winners, including 2008 winner Scott Dixon (above), is among the unique new items added recently to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway eBay auctions to benefit American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti, which already have raised more than $8,400. All proceeds from the eBay auction of racing memorabilia, which began Jan. 15, are being donated to Red Cross relief efforts for the devastating earthquake Jan. 12.
Read More
Get Inside Access To IMS Through Popular 'Grounds Tour' In 2010
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum will continue its Grounds Tours in 2010 with a full schedule of dates from March through November. Tickets are available now for the Museum's popular Grounds Tour, which provides a great opportunity to entertain family, friends or clients with a 90-minute tour rich in IMS history and landmarks. Click the Read More link to see the dates!
Read More
Items 805 - 809 of 814
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact IMS Sales Department at (317) 492-8739 or email at
Latest Tweets
It's Pole day on @CrownRoyal Armed Forces Weekend & we can't wait to see you! Check out details on the day:
May 21