IRL: "Winning" Still Has Strong Ties With Speedway

'WINNING' STILL HAS STRONG TIES WITH IMS 30 YEARS LATER INDIANAPOLIS, April 28, 1998 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Eddie Cheever stopped veteran Indianapolis Motor Speedway public-address announcer Tom Carnegie - renowned for his call...

'WINNING' STILL HAS STRONG TIES WITH IMS 30 YEARS LATER

INDIANAPOLIS, April 28, 1998 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Eddie Cheever stopped veteran Indianapolis Motor Speedway public-address announcer Tom Carnegie - renowned for his call of "Heeeee's ON it!" -- in the pits one day recently and said, "You sound the same today as you did then." Cheever heard and recognized Carnegie's voice while watching the movie "Winning" this month on the Bravo cable network. The film, built around a driver who puts winning the Indianapolis 500 in front of everything, including his family, starred Paul Newman, his real-life wife, Joanne Woodward, and Robert Wagner. Filming began 30 years ago, immediately after Bobby Unser won his first Indy 500 title in 1968. Scenes were shot on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track, at the Speedway Motel (now the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort and Inn) and at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Surprisingly, several people from the racing world, including Carnegie, who had a role in the film, still are active at the Speedway. And Paul Newman retains his interest in auto racing as co-owner with Carl Haas of the cars driven by Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi in the CART series. Carnegie, walking better now at 78 following leg surgery than at anytime during his lifetime at the Speedway, was hired to do the public-address voice for the racing action. Carnegie's resonant voice again will send the 33 starters to the green flag for the Indianapolis 500 on May 24. Two-time Indy 500 winner Rodger Ward was technical director for the film. Now 76, he still returns from his California home to the Speedway on a regular basis. Bill Marvel, 67, was Ward's assistant and handled many of the details. Marvel, retired from the United States Auto Club last summer, again will be in charge of the interview room at the Speedway during May. Bob Clidinst was handed a driver's role and name of Bobby Fake but never drove. His part was to climb out of his car, walk back through the garages in his uniform and have some ad-lib words with Newman. Clidinst now is a fixture at the Speedway as the man with the stopwatch and radio who provides pit-side information to the media center. Johnny Rutherford won the "500" three times after his driving role in the movie. Today he works on special projects for the Pep Boys Indy Racing League and drives the pace car at the league's races. Gary Bettenhausen, another of the drivers, qualified for 21 Indy 500's and has returned to the Speedway this year as a driving consultant for LP Racing teammates Sam Schmidt and Scott Harrington. Others who drove either in the Indy-style car or stock-car scenes were Larry Dickson, Bob Harkey, Mel Kenyon (still driving a midget at 65) and Jim McElreath, and since-deceased Bobby Grim, Bruce Jacobi and Roger McCluskey. Probably the most unexpected member of the cast was 15-year-old Pam Nickels. Director James Goldstone mentioned to Marvel that a pretty girl was needed to be the race queen. Marvel said that he and then-wife, Bernice, had a babysitter who might fit the role. Marvel contacted her. She called her mother, who in turn called her father, and they reluctantly gave approval. Marvel took her to Indianapolis Raceway Park where she practiced her part, which included kissing both Wagner and Newman. Pam later became Mrs. Ware and a mother, and lives in California. Carnegie's part was unusual. He wasn't involved in anyway in the filming of the movie. He never met Newman or Wagner. Instead, after the filming was completed, he was hired to dub in the public-address voice at the races. Ward arranged for Carnegie to do the public-address part. He was flown to California and taken to a studio the next day to begin the recording work. "I went fully expecting a script," Carnegie said. "There was no sign of a script. That I just couldn't believe. So what I did is I sat down and said: 'Who's the hero? Is there a villain? Who's in Car 16? Who's in Car 4?' So I gave them names and drew up a list of entries and emphasis on the hero and the bad drivers." Carnegie said he then was placed in a studio the size of a football field. He was shown pictures without sound on the wall and he ad-libbed the whole thing. It took two strenuous days. "Then they took the sound and put it on the public-address system at Dodger Stadium in L.A. to get the effect," he said. "So that's how we came up with it." Carnegie then was placed in a chauffeured limousine, which he thought had him "living pretty high," and taken back to the airport. He received a check for $1,500. And he still never met Newman. And during all the years Newman came to the Speedway with the Andretti team, Carnegie still was never introduced to him. "Strange, isn't it?" Carnegie said today. Twenty years later, Carnegie participated in his second film, the popular basketball movie "Hoosiers." This time he actually appeared on camera as the public-address announcer in the Indiana high school state finals at Butler Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. And he said he received the same treatment as star Gene Hackman. Also, he had to join the Screen Actors Guild when a records check showed he was involved in "Winning." A person is allowed only one movie as a non-union participant. "They wouldn't take a check," he said. "It had to be a certified check." Carnegie, paid considerably more than $1,500 for his "Hoosiers" appearance, continued to pay his SAG dues and just last year received $26 in residuals. "I'd have done it for nothing," he said, "because it was so much fun. "I'm hoping that someday Paul Newman maybe will want another motion picture or will have another racers' motion picture," he added. Marvel has a different feeling about Newman. Dick Offsinger played the chief mechanic for the Academy Award-winning actor and selected Marvel's son Billy Jr., then a senior at Indianapolis North Central High School, to be a part of the crew. A poster advertising the movie included Billy Jr. standing behind Newman. Later Marvel's son lost his life in a sprint-car accident. "I knew he (Newman) didn't give autographs, but I sent him two posters and asked him to autograph them," Marvel said. "He autographed both of them. I gave them to Jamie and Robby, Billy's children."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Christian Fittipaldi , Bobby Unser , Paul Newman , Scott Harrington , Carl Haas , Jim McElreath , Rodger Ward , Johnny Rutherford