Contrary to what many racing fans might believe, A.J. Foyt and Arie Luyendyk have some things in common.
Both are on the short list of drivers who have won multiple Indianapolis 500s. Both are still very visible at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Month of May. Both share extremely fond memories of the longtime voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
While some will think about the post-race fight at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 when the names Luyendyk and Foyt are mentioned in the same sentence, I found myself wanting to talk to both because of another racing legend, Tom Carnegie.
Foyt and Carnegie obviously spent a great deal of time together in a working capacity, Carnegie as the interviewer and Foyt as the interviewee. However, they had much more than just a driver/reporter relationship.
"I just thought the world of Tom, we had a lot of good interviews together, I mean, he's just such a nice guy, I don't know of anybody that really had any harsh words for him," Foyt told me Friday via telephone.
Many remember the day in 1993 that an emotional Foyt announced his retirement from racing to the IMS fans, through his good friend Tom Carnegie. Their relationship stayed strong even after Foyt's driving career came to an end.
"He was a dear friend of mine and I thought the world of him....To me, he was Indianapolis, the voice of Indianapolis. I just don't think nobody could every replace him, like when he's talking, it's a new track record," added Foyt.
As much as fans enjoyed the famous calls of a 'New Track Record' there hadn't been a chance for Carnegie to let it out of those famous pipes since 1996. That was when Arie Luyendyk scorched the 2.5 mile oval to a single lap speed of 237.498 mph. Luyendyk might be remembered for that run (and corresponding call by Carnegie) as much as his two Indy 500 victories.
"Obviously to hear him say, "It's a new track record was always pretty cool to hear, especially if he was talking about myself," Luyendyk told me Friday via telephone.
While many fans think of the drivers as the stars during the Month of May, Arie Luyendyk and A.J. Foyt realized Tom Carnegie was in a category all his own.
"Tom was just an icon," added Luyendyk.
"I know I'm going to miss him, I know that, there's going to be thousands of fans that are going to miss Tom Carnegie, because I think they loved him as much as they loved some of the hero race drivers," added Foyt.
I'm certainly privileged to have had the opportunity to talk with Carnegie a few times during my time working here at Fox 59 and am happy to have gleaned a little perspective on the day of his passing from two of the sports biggest stars.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun