Drivers, start your engines - its race weekend! On Sunday morning, over 300,000 race fans will be filing into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for what is known as the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” This year marks the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. An event rich with tradition, the Speedway will be buzzing with activity all weekend long with a lineup of concerts, ceremonies, military recognition and final practice laps around the track all leading up to the green flag.
Popular radio host for 93.1 WIBC in Indianapolis, Tony Katz, will be helping thousands of race fans on their journey into the track Sunday morning with his prerace radio coverage beginning at 5am. We sat down with Tony to discuss more about this incredible experience and what it means to play such a prominent role in some of the behind the scenes work that goes into making race day a success.
While Tony covers a fair amount of politics and news, he also discusses a tremendous amount of culture on his show. And as we know, the Indy500 is a culture of its own. Yet, the race itself is blacked out on television in the Indy market, therefore making radio the dominant means of accessing live Indy500 coverage. This in itself creates an incredible experience for Katz and WIBC to be a part of.
“If it wasn’t for WIBC and the long history it has with the Speedway for bringing the information to those coming to the track, you wouldn’t have a race. As much as you need 33 cars, good weather and no rain, you need 93.1 WIBC and listening to it on NextRadio app - otherwise you’re missing out on breaking news, weather updates which changes how people prepare, and traffic news which effects how people are going to get to the track. Without WIBC, it’s impossible to have a race day experience.”
“Around 4am, it is me, and the very rare early morning cigar. To be able to walk the pagoda plaza and just take a look at the track in its total silence and knowing in just a few hours from now it’s going to be pandemonium. To watch that transition happen, that’s a good time. Calm before the storm is always great.”
Katz’s race experience differs than most as his first live Indy500 experience was from a broadcaster’s perspective. While broadcasting prerace coverage is seamlessly incomparable to the typical Indy500 spectator, Katz is still able to create some truly remarkable traditions at the race track. Katz usually makes his way down to the Speedway around 3:30 AM on race morning to set up for his 5 o’clock show.
For over 100 years, the Indy500 has been embedded with rich traditions that still withstand today. From the release of the red, white and blue balloons before the start, “Back Home Again in Indiana,” and the drinking of milk on victory lane. Listening to radio coverage of the IndyCar race is a tradition within itself, and thousands tune in to hear the broadcast whether people are listening from home or bringing their radio along with them to the track. Now, with the NextRadio app, listening to radio broadcast of the Indy500 is easier than ever. Katz explains that now, you no longer have to haul your boom box into the Speedway to hear race coverage, and rather all you need is your smartphone with the NextRadio app to create an even better Indy500 experience.
“There’s nothing, absolutely nothing like hearing [the Indy500] on air, and hearing how they broadcast from turn to turn and how well and how seamless and how exciting it is. You can hear it in [the broadcasters] and therefore you feel it much more than you ever could from anything television has to offer.”
Be sure to tune into 93.1 WIBC on your NextRadio app to hear Tony Katz from 5 - 11am with all your prerace coverage. He will be making his Indy500 winner prediction on race day, so listen in for predictions, news, traffic and weather updates, and race day information. Full coverage of the Indy500 will be broadcast LIVE nationwide on 1070 WFNI or 93.1 WIBC. Listen on your NextRadio app!