September 13, 2019 | 1:00 PM
Race day for the inaugural Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions is just 65 days away, and what a day it will be! While the on-track action will play the leading role on November 17, the pre-race festivities will pay homage to the history and tradition of open-wheel racing at Indianapolis.
Open-Wheels has added Phil Kaiser to the pre-race line-up to perform “Back Home Again in Indiana,” a song made popular by Jim Nabors’ performances at the Indianapolis 500 between 1972 and 2014.
“To announce Phil as the singer for ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ at the inaugural Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race is an exciting honor,” said Tanner Watkins, the owner and editor of Open-Wheels.com and the president of the Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions.
“Phil is a consummate professional who will respect the history of this Memorial Day weekend tradition and honor those who have sung it before him. We are lucky to have this part of open-wheel racing history find its way into our 500-mile event, and I am excited to hear Phil’s performance on November 17.”
Kaiser’s performance will be aired live on Today at the 500 in a special two-hour streaming show which will be hosted by Watkins. The pre-race show is scheduled to feature Kaiser’s performance, plus interviews from commentators and drivers, as well as other important pre-race festivities.
For Kaiser, the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Nabors – and recently, Jim Cornelison – has been a pleasant surprise.
“I am extremely humbled to be able to sing (Back Home Again In) Indiana before the start of Tanner’s huge inaugural event, the Open-Wheels 500 Mile Race, this November,” said Kaiser. “Throughout my life, I have wept openly when Jim Nabors (and now Jim Cornelison) have performed the song before the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race each May, and it thrills me to my core to be able to follow in their footsteps for this new event.
“I would like to thank Tanner Watkins and the folks at Open-Wheels.com for having me sing such an important song at such an important moment and I sincerely hope it becomes a new tradition for them and for me!”
Kaiser has 40 years of performing and recording experience – from singing lead and background vocals to playing guitar, drums, bass guitar and keyboards in a variety of bands in schools, clubs, concerts, on the radio and TV.
Phil has performed with The Bob & Tom Show both musically and on comedy bits, and has appeared on many local jingles, including a national McDonald’s radio jingle. Kaiser also performed for the athletes of the Pan Am Games in Indianapolis and played the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Maine. His early bands were British Rock influenced and he toured extensively with them.
His current project is The Beepline, a ’60s and ’70s tribute band that covers the Pop, Rock and Hard Rock of that era, again with a heavy British influence. Phil also loves to write and record his own music, performing all of the instruments himself and singing all of the vocals.
To see and hear Phil Kaiser go to www.reverbnation.com/philkaiser where you will find videos from his entire career, along with original music and cover songs from the various bands he’s been in. You can also check in on his latest project by going to www.facebook.com/moransanderskaiserbrunner where you can get a complete schedule of dates and see video and photos of The Beepline.
The inaugural Open-Wheels.com 500 Mile Race presented by Mitchell Transmissions will be held on Sunday, November 17, streamed live worldwide by RaceSpot TV. Entries for the race will be accepted between October 1 and October 25 (via an online registration form) and qualifications for the event will be held on November 9 and 10.
Header image by Phil Ellsworth/ESPN.