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Jim Nabors

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Like a Good Nabors

Sadly, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced today that Indy 500 mainstay Jim Nabors will not be available to sing “(Back Home Again in) Indiana” before the race this year. The conflict: a scheduled surgery for heart-valve replacement.

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Good Nabors

A: TV’s Gomer Pyle owes his pre-race role to an incident in 1972, when legendary Speedway boss Anton “Tony” Hulman asked him to participate in the opening ceremonies. But Tony didn’t approach him months in advance like regular folks would. Instead he walked up to Nabors (who was attending the ’72 race as a spectator) and asked him if he’d like to “sing the song.” Nabors, figuring it was “The Star-Spangled Banner,” said yes. It wasn’t until moments before his performance that he learned it was “Back Home Again in Indiana.” Ever the trouper, he wrote the lyrics on his hand and delivered a bang-up performance, earning a gig he’s honored for the better part of four decades. [Editor’s Note: Nabors won’t make it to the 2012 Indy 500 due to medical reasons.]

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