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
Dario Franchitti, Takuma Sato
 
Memory Lane: Franchitti vs. Sato, 2012
Dario Franchitti completed a wild race of musical chairs up front by taking the lead from Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon on Lap 199. Takuma Sato also swept past Dixon for second, as the new Dallara chassis for the 2012 season created an incredible amount of slipstreaming battles and passing on the 2.5-mile oval. Franchitti and Sato then roared past the flag stand with the white flag in the air and the huge crowd on its feet, ready to decide the newest face on the Borg-Warner Trophy with one lap remaining.
Read More
Red Bull Air Race
 
Pilots Return For Red Bull Air Race's Summer Classic in Budapest
Budapest has established itself as a classic stop on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship calendar: a location legendary for its long heritage dating to the first season of the sport and, especially, for an iconic racetrack approach that sees the raceplanes dive under the city’s Chain Bridge. Every pilot wants a Budapest win on his resume, and every team knows that victory in the fourth stop on the eight-race calendar will give them momentum at the critical midpoint of the season.
Read More
Bloomington Gold Corvette Show
 
Fans Can Go Corvette Crazy This Weekend at IMS with Bloomington Gold
Fans and car owners from across North America will celebrate the unique culture of the iconic Chevrolet Corvette this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as Bloomington Gold Corvettes – the longest-running all-Corvette show in the United States – roars at the track from Thursday, June 21 through Saturday, June 23.
Read More
Geoff Brabham
 
G. Brabham Makes Most of Second Chance with SVRA Victory at Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational
Indianapolis 500 veteran Geoff Brabham didn’t waste his chance at redemption, winning Sunday in the final day of Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) action in the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Paul Tracy
 
True Racers: Unser, Papis, Fisher, Tracy Relish Driving in Vintage Race during Rare Off Weekend from IndyCar
All four have won this Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) event at some point. Papis and Fisher each prevailed in respective classes last year. Tracy won two years ago, proclaiming the accomplishment his second victory at the track in reference to losing the 2002 Indianapolis 500 amid controversy. Unser, a two-time “500” winner, won in the inaugural year in 2014.
Read More
Items 16 - 20 of 3,111