INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Replacing a legend isn’t easy. Just ask Doug Boles.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway president has a daunting task as he looks toward the 2015 race: deciding who will succeed Jim Nabors as the singer of “Back Home Again in Indiana” before the race’s start.
After a four-decade run, Nabors announced that, for health reasons, this would be his last year that his rich baritone would provide the familiar pre-race tune heard by millions since he first sang it in 1972.
Boles told the Indianapolis Business Journal that the Speedway hasn’t reached out to potential replacements yet. But that’s not to say there isn’t interest.
When Nabors couldn’t attend the Indy 500 in 2012, the Speedway was inundated with people who wanted to replace him, including former “Bay Watch” and “Knight Rider” actor David Hasselhoff and a man who cornered Boles at the track’s headquarters and refused to leave until he’d belted out the song.
That year, the speedway used a video of Nabors. That won’t be the case in 2015.
Beyond that, though, nothing is certain.
Boles said there’s no guarantee the IMS will enlist someone for a long run like Nabors had. He noted that Nabors was only tapped to sing the song in 1972, but he continued to return after the performance “just clicked” with fans. For the previous 26 years, a singer was usually chosen for just one year.
There’s also no guarantee that the next singer will have Indiana ties, despite calls for John Mellencamp, Sandi Patty or even “The Voice” winner Josh Kaufman to take the microphone.
“Jim Nabors isn’t from Indiana,” Boles noted.