IMS retains Jim Cornelison for ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’

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Jim Cornelison’s stirring rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana” for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil was an instant hit – and in a smart move by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, not his only rendition.

The track has announced Wednesday morning that Cornelison will be back for an encore performance next May.

The full release is below.

His voice thrilled hundreds of thousands of fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and millions more across the globe on Race Day in May 2017, and now he’s back for more. Jim Cornelison will return to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” before the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27, 2018.

Cornelison is known to sports fans everywhere as the powerful and exclusive voice behind “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Chicago Blackhawks’ home games. He took the “Back Home Again in Indiana” mantle last May, generating widespread praise and social media buzz from fans in Indianapolis and beyond.

“Jim perfectly captured the powerful emotion behind one of Race Day’s most iconic moments, and barely a day has gone by without a fan asking us to bring him back for next year’s race,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “We’re happy he’s returning to IMS and we’re grateful to our friends with the Blackhawks’ organization for working with us to make this happen.”

Cornelison is a 1992 graduate of the Master of Music program at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and has been the popular singer of the national anthem before all Blackhawks’ home games at the United Center in Chicago since the 2008-09 season. His soaring vocals and spirited style have welcomed millions of network viewers to the Stanley Cup Finals over multiple championship runs for the team.

“Last year was such an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to come back to Indy,” Cornelison said. “I already have Race Day circled on my calendar!”

Cornelison will become the first performer to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” in consecutive years since the retirement of Jim Nabors in 2014. Nabors sang the tune 36 times during Indy 500 pre-race ceremonies between 1972-2014.

The popularity of Cornelison’s powerful performances has led to him singing in front of national audiences at many other sporting events, including a 2012 Ryder Cup golf match, Arlington Million horse race, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, ESPN’s “College GameDay” before an Indiana-Ohio State game in August 2017, ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” and two USA Rugby matches, the first vs. New Zealand All Blacks and the second vs. Australia at Soldier Field. He’s also made television performances on “TODAY,” “The Colbert Report” and “Harry Connick Jr. Show.”

Cornelison’ s widespread appreciation and popularity in Chicago is also evident on his resume. He has performed before games for every major Chicago professional sports team, including the Chicago Bears’ home opener since 2010.

Cornelison, a tenor, sang with numerous opera companies before becoming one of six accepted apprentices from more than 800 applicants for the Lyric Opera’s Apprenticeship Program in Chicago in 1995.

He has performed nationally and internationally with some of the biggest names in opera, including Placido Domingo and Zubin Mehta, and with opera companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France and many other locations.

Washington state native Cornelison has a strong commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces and to charitable organizations. He serves on the advisory board of the Illinois Patriot Education Fund, is the honorary squadron commander of the USAF Band of Mid-America and an honorary member of YPO-Gold. He regularly participates with charitable organizations such as Dreams for Kids, the USO and veterans’ support groups.

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”