News & Multimedia

Bestwick Honored To Lend Voice to IMS Public Address during May

Race fans visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying or the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30 will hear a very familiar voice on the public address: renowned motorsports play-by-play announcer Allen Bestwick.

Bestwick has joined longtime IMS public address announcer and local TV station WTHR sports director Dave Calabro in the public address booth for the entire Month of May. Missing alongside Bestwick and Calabro is Hall of Fame motorsports announcer Bob Jenkins, who has reduced his role this year as he battles brain cancer.

It’s a gig Bestwick was supposed to take in 2020 alongside Calabro and Jenkins, but when the Indianapolis 500 was postponed to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic and held without fans, the new job was put on hold for a year.

Now, Bestwick is adding to his impressive professional resume, which includes serving as the play-by-play TV announcer for the Indianapolis 500 from 2014-18, as well as for NASCAR on NBC in the mid-2000s and NASCAR on ESPN in the early 2010s. He is adding his name to an impressive list of those who have lent their voice to IMS, led by the legendary Tom Carnegie.

“It’s like the next item on a very long list of things I just sort of can’t understand how they’ve happened to me,” Bestwick said. “I’m just a guy from a small town in a small state, and I’m in Indianapolis. I’m at Daytona. I’m broadcasting college football at Texas A&M. It’s the latest in a very long string of things that is kind of hard to wrap my head around sometimes.”

Bestwick, 59, was first bit by the Indianapolis 500 bug as a kid, with vivid memories of Lloyd Ruby coming oh-so-close to winning the Indy 500. His dad was a racer across short tracks in Connecticut, and he said he was raised with an understanding that the Racing Capital of the World was “the mecca of racing.”

As Bestwick got older, his fascination with race cars grew. But he also became captivated by the voices that brought him the on-track action. Specifically, he remembers Jim McKay hosting ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and bringing race fans the Indianapolis 500 broadcast for years.

The first time he visited IMS was in the late 1980s, when he was working MRN broadcasts for the NASCAR Xfinity Series at what was then Indianapolis Raceway Park. Bestwick said the first thing the crew did when their flight landed in Indianapolis was get a rental car and visit the IMS Museum. From there, Bestwick has been hooked.

“It’s exciting to be here and to renew my love affair with this place,” he said. “When the Brickyard 400 came to be, that was amazing. When NBC came to do the Brickyard 400, that was amazing. To then work for ABC and be asked to do the Indianapolis 500, that was mind-blowing.”

While the public address role is new for Bestwick, it’s not unfamiliar. He has served on the PA system at Daytona International Speedway, and his background in radio and television bring decades of experience.

Bestwick noted two big differences in this role as opposed to his other broadcasting jobs. First and foremost is the fact Bestwick will have a crowd of people across the racetrack from his booth on the second level of the famed Pagoda, and he feeds off those fans.

The second big difference will come on Race Day. Bestwick spent years on the television side of pre-race festivities at IMS and knows how down-to-the-minute everything must be to bring the emotional ceremonies to millions of race fans at home. But he hasn’t experienced that on the public address side, and it’s a challenge he is eager to tackle.

“I know how crucial it is from the other end of it,” he said. “ABC didn’t want to be waiting for the Speedway, and the Speedway didn’t want to be waiting on ABC. There are certain points in the day that just have to meet up.

“Now, let me absorb it from this side and see what the recipe is that goes into the day. I’m just soaking it up like a sponge, talking to people, doing a lot of listening. The actual work itself, it’s just me doing what I love to do. Hopefully people can feel the smile on my face while I’m doing it.”

Bestwick said at the moment he’s only had discussions about serving on the IMS public address during this Month of May, but his goal is to continue well into the future.

“We haven’t discussed it beyond this May, but like anything else in life, yeah, I sure hope so,” he said. “I hope next year it’s not 40 percent (fan) capacity, and I hope when I go take my early-morning walk up pit lane on race morning, I’m going to have the same chills in this job like I’ve had in any other time I’ve been on Race Day.”

Show More Show Less
Items 21 - 25 of 2,479