The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is making great efforts to save historic Indianapolis 500 media and make it available to the public, and the IMS Radio Network’s live race broadcast of the 1958 Indianapolis 500 is now available as a digital download for just $9.95 per copy.
Every purchase of the more than four-hour broadcast, which has been fully restored and preserved in incredible digital quality, will support the Museum’s efforts to bring back to life several more long-lost race and qualifying recordings.
The estate of Sid Collins, the legendary IMS Radio Network lead announcer and “Voice of the 500,” donated numerous transcription discs containing races, qualifying shows and interviews from the 1950s. Although shaped like a record, the discs are made of acetate – a material that, unlike vinyl records, degrades over time. The 1958 transcription discs were cut live during the race, in the radio booth with Collins, using a recording lathe that created the grooves instantaneously.
IMS Museum staff is working with Bloomington, Ind.-based Memnon Archiving Services, and in conjunction with media preservation experts at Indiana University, to save these one-of-a-kind recordings. IU Audio Preservation Engineer Dan Figurelli said the 1958 race discs were coated in a white film as a result of the natural deterioration of the media.
“We were able to preserve and restore them at the highest quality,” said Figurelli. “Listening to them is a unique window into history. It’s like you are there.”
The 1958 Indianapolis 500 began with tragedy and drama, on the first lap. Front row starter Ed Elisian passed pole winner Dick Rathmann on the backstretch and then spun in Turn 3, setting off a 15-car chain reaction crash that sent rookie Jerry Unser over the wall and resulted in the death of popular driver Pat O’Connor, of North Vernon, Ind.
Jimmy Bryan, who had won the national championship three times in four years, would win the race but was despondent in Victory Circle, as O’Connor was one of his best friends. Collins and the IMS Radio Network team covered the mixed emotions of the day with the utmost professionalism and sympathy.
IMS Radio Network broadcasts covering 1960-64, and 1966-present, plus the 1958 “500” audio, are available via MP3-format digital download (no compact discs) at:
Purchases of the 1958 audio restoration will result in the release of more full-length 1950’s era races, plus interviews and never-before-released qualifying shows.
The next IMS Radio Network digitally-remastered broadcast scheduled for release will be the 1959 “500,” in Spring 2019 to honor the event’s 60th anniversary. It was an exciting race with Rodger Ward just barely beating Jim Rathmann and Johnny Thomson, setting the stage for the 1960 “500” and one of the most epic battles in IMS history, which saw 29 lead changes – 14 of them between Ward and Rathmann.
About the IMS Museum: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is home to one of the world’s premier motorsports and automobile collections, with interpretive emphasis on the Indianapolis 500 and its role as an American icon of sporting tradition and innovation.
Located inside the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, the Museum is open 363 days a year (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). It is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization which relies on support from admissions, tours, sponsorships, annual memberships and planned-giving for its operations, educational programming, restoration and preservation efforts, and special exhibits and events.
For more information on the IMS Museum, please visit www.indyracingmuseum.org, contact the Museum at (317) 492-6784, or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.