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Jim Nabors, legend of Indy 500 pre-race, dies at 87

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Jim Nabors never raced in the Indianapolis 500, but was an inextricable and unmatched golden part of the event for decades.

The longtime singer of “Back Home Again in Indiana” signed off the mic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the final time in 2014.

Nabors died Thursday at age 87 in his Hawaii home. He had been battling health issues for several years.

A statement from the Hulman-George family, owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, about Nabors is below:

“Jim Nabors was such a kind, caring man, and we will miss him greatly. Jim was born in Alabama, but he became a Hoosier to all of us almost immediately after he began his superb performances of ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ starting in 1972. He loved coming back home to the Speedway almost every May for more than 40 years and seeing his friends and race fans, who loved him dearly. Jim was not only a treasured friend, but truly a cherished member of our family. We will never forget his genuine kindness, sincerity and loyalty. He was a wonderful man who inspired millions of people across the globe every May and throughout his entire life.”

The concept of the actor, most famous for playing Gomer Pyle both on The Andy Griffith Show and later the spin-off, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., then singing the song in advance of the race was a strange one at first, but quickly became an institution.

Nabors sang the song a total of 36 times from 1972 through 2014. His final rendition is below, shared via Jake Query, Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network broadcaster and occasional NBCSN Indy Lights host.

Via @DoctorIndy, here’s his first rendition from 1972.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles called Nabors’ rendition “the best 90 seconds of the year for many of our fans.”

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.