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When you visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during this Month of May, expect to hear a familiar voice: Fox 59 reporter and Indiana Pacers emcee Lindy Thackston. Thackston is the newest member of the public-announcer crew at IMS—and only the third woman in the track's 100-plus-year history to hold such a position. For Thackston, who graduated from Purdue in 2002 and worked for six years as a news anchor and reporter, it's a natural fit.
Like so many Hoosiers, the Frankfort native ("Home of the Hot Dogs!" she reports) grew up listening to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio. Her interest in the event grew when, in 2001, she served as a 500 Princess. By 2009, her conversion was complete: She signed on with the Versus network as a pit-lane reporter and sometime pre-race host for the IndyCar series—a post she would hold for three years. A temporary break from broadcasting followed, during which Thackston handled social media for Ed Carpenter Racing (where she also met her now-husband, then a mechanic on the team). Translation: Thackston can do it all. She can call a race from pit lane. She can play-by-play a pit stop. She can intelligently interview drivers, mechanics, and team owners. And she can chat it up with fans. "At this point, I feel really comfortable with the sport," says Thackston. Even so, Thackston was shocked when the folks from the IMS came calling. "That's not something you ever expect," she says. "It's a huge honor to join them."
"This is Tom Carnegie's group, you know?" she continues. Carnegie, of course, served as the Speedway's PA announcer for some 60 years. (Ever heard the phrase "And he's on it"? That was Carnegie. Ditto "It's a new track record!")
For Speedway junkies like Thackston, Carnegie—who died in 2011 at the age of 91—is a legend who left a lasting imprint at the track. "What's been really cool," she says, "is learning a lot of lessons from Tom Carnegie, even though he's not here. The other people I’m working with are teaching me what he taught them."
"'A good announcer knows when to talk. A great announcer knows when to shut up.'"
For more Indy 500 and Month of May coverage, visit IM's May Madness blog.
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