Jim Cornelison gives two thumbs up at the Indy 500
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 26: Jim Cornelison is seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

A Trip Down Memory Lane With Jim Cornelison

As Memorial Day weekend draws closer, race fans everywhere are coping with reality. Yes, we’ll all have to wait another three months for the green flag to fly in the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. This year marks the first time in history that The Greatest Spectacle in Racing won’t be run in May.

What are the people that make race day so unique up to?

Jim Cornelison, who has kicked off the past three Indy 500s with a powerful rendition of ‘Back Home Again In Indiana’, stopped by The Fan Morning Show with Jeff & Big Joe to do a little reminiscing.

“One of my favorite things is being on the track the night before and it’s like ‘Field of Dreams’. If you build it they will come,” Cornelison said. “And you’re sitting there in the middle of the track, there’s nobody in the place, but it’s all dressed up and ready to go.”

The calm before the storm. Rickard asked Jim to recall the five minutes leading up to his 500 debut back in 2017.

“At that point five minutes before, I’m falling back into just all kinds of mental skills, tricks, whatever you want to call it of performing in that kind of environment. And that was the first time that I had sung that song, and you’re gonna get up in front of 300,000 people and sing it?”

“You realize, ‘If I really do this right…this could be life changing,’” Cornelison said. “This is my Game 7 of the World Series and the score is tied and I have a chance to hit a homerun.”

And just like for the thousands of race fans who find themselves back at IMS every Memorial Day weekend, Cornelison doesn’t think the experience will ever get old.

“It is not routine – not at all. I mean, it’s once a year and it’s such a massive event: the exposure, the energy, the number of people that [are] there. It’s real exciting and I look forward to it every year. I don’t see that ever changing…”

Fast cars. Beer. 300,000 screaming fans. Cornelison’s deep vibrato. ‘Back to normal’ can’t come soon enough.

Catch the full 2017 performance below, and be sure to subscribe to The Jeff & Big Joe Show Podcast.

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