Post By Race Review Online Historian – Jim Smith
INDIANAPOLIS — At this time of the year the racing world is focused on Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500. One of the traditional questions asked each year is about the phrase “Stay tuned for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Most trivia buffs and hard core race fans know the phrase was coined by the late Sid Collins, the chief radio announcer, for the 1955 Indianapolis 500. There is more to the story.
The 1953 Indianapolis 500 was the first year the race was broadcast from start to finish. Before that there were only five minute updates every fifteen minutes heard over the Mutual Radio Network that originated from WIBC, a local Indianapolis radio station. Collins was an announcer for the station in 1948 and was also a track announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was then named a co- anchor that provided coverage of the 1950 and 1951 Indianapolis 500.
In 1952 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network was formed and he was named the chief announcer for the Indianapolis 500. In 1953 only a few stations carried that first start to finish broadcast. In a few years the broadcast would be heard on over a thousand radio stations world wide.
In 1954 there was a meeting at WIBC to discuss the 1955 radio broadcast. At that time many of the network radio stations requested the use of a phrase for what was then known as an “outcue” to warn them of a commercial break.
At that meeting was a copy writer for WIBC named Alice Greene and it was said that she suggested they use the word “ spectacle” in the phrase. The words “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” came from that meeting.
Sid Collins coined the phrase for the first time whileannouncing the 1955 Indianapolis 500. It is still used today for the world wide radio coverage of the Indianapolis 500. From then until 1976 he was known as “The Voice of the 500”. He gained world wide fame and received many awards and accolades during his announcing career.
He was born Sidney Cahn Jr. on July 17, 1922 to a Jewish family in Indianapolis. He changed his name to Collins because he feared discrimination in the field of broadcasting. In April of 1977 he was diagnosed with ALS and he took his own life on May 2, 1977. He had been scheduled to announce his 30th Indianapolis 500 on May 29th.