legendsbrickyard

In 1987, ESPN began producing a new program titled Legends of the Brickyard. It featured a packaging of an official Indy 500 highlight film, edited for television broadcast.

The program aired on ESPN and later on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic, during the month of May and sometimes as early as April. The highlight films themselves were originally produced by various outfits, including Championship Racefilms, Car & Track Productions, as well as the in-house Indy 500 Films, Telx and IMS Productions. Many of the highlight films utilized in the series were released in official capacity on VHS (or other media), and were sold at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gift shops. Oftentimes, the VHS versions were uncut and longer in duration.

At the time, Bob Jenkins and Larry Nuber were the main auto racing commentators for ESPN. Jenkins also worked on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network for the 500 during that time period, and Nuber had worked as a pit reporter on ABC-TV for the 500 as well. Jenkins and Nuber hosted this new program, offering brief commentary throughout the show. The episodes were sometimes edited for content and for time, and were made to fit a thirty-minute broadcast window.

Screenshot from 1976 episode.

The original run of twelve episodes included races from 1975 through 1986, was presented by sponsor Plasti-kote, and was produced by Fred Bailey (ARTICLE). The first episode aired on Sunday May 3, 1987, and subsequent episodes ran and reran through May 23 of that year. Jenkins and Nuber recorded their bumper segments at the Speedway during April or May of 1987. In some episodes, practice or testing for the 1987 race was going on in the background. Subsequently, an episode was created for the 1987 highlight film, with Jenkins and Nuber recording their commentary at some point during the off-season.

After Nuber parted ways with ESPN, Bob Jenkins become the lone host for the series. New episodes for the races from 1988 to 1993 were hosted by Jenkins, utilizing the same format. The 1993 episode was produced by Lingner Group Productions (Terry Lingner was the head of production for much of ESPN’s auto racing “SpeedWorld” at the time). Episodes for 1994, 1995, and 1996 were produced, but aired without a host, and with no reference to the original “Legends of the Brickyard” name. The 1995 & 1996 episodes were released under the ESPN “SpeedWorld” banner, but for the purposes of this collection, all episodes from 1975 to 1996 are considered part of the full run of the Legends of the Brickyard series.

sbmNo new episodes of ESPN’s Legends of the Brickyard were produced for races after 1996, however, the series was rerun multiple times through about 2000. In 1992-1993 a new title sequence was created, while 1994, 1995, and 1996 utilized genetic intros and outros. Annual highlight films for races subsequent to 1996 were still produced by IMS Productions, but they were not generally offered for television broadcast. Legends of the Brickyard was similar in concept to another ESPN-produced program, Super Bowl Memories. Around the same time frame, that show utilized the annual Super Bowl highlight film and edited and repackaged it for broadcast on television.

It should be noted that in the early 1990s the annual highlight film (not re-edited or packaged by ESPN) was also offered in syndication. The highlight films from at least 1991-1995 were shown on local television channels at varying times, but usually in May around the week of the race.

The Legends of the Brickyard series was unique in that it exposed the Indy 500 highlight films to a much wider audience. Previously the films had to be purchased, or possibly checked out from a library, or viewed elsewhere. Some were produced or commissioned by private entities and may seen only limited distribution. The earlier episodes originally came out before the days of VCRs, or least before widespread consumer ownership of VCRs, and were originally distributed on 16 mm film, 8 mm film, or similar. The series also coincided with ESPN’s first year (1987) of covering Indianapolis 500 time trials, complimenting and bolstering the network’s Indy coverage.

As the original run in May 1987 was sponsored by paint brand Plasti-kote, the original 1987 episodes had a Plasti-kote logo appear during the intro. In later years, this was removed. The original run was also complemented by a pair of classic commercials. In the first, former Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian was joined by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal. As Parseghian describes the virtues and benefits of Plasti-kote, he proceeded to paint over Rahal’s side of the screen, blocking him from view of the camera (LINK). In the second, the roles are reversed, as Rahal gets his “revenge” and does the same back to Parseghian.

Episode list

1975
Original air date: Sun. May 3, 1987 (10:00 a.m. EDT)[1][2]
Title: “Race For Professionals”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Marvin Miller
Produced by: Championship Racefilms for Goodyear
1976
Original air date: Sat. May 9, 1987 (7:30 p.m. EDT)[3][4]
Title: “Wheels Keep On Rolling”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Marvin Miller
Produced by: Championship Racefilms for Goodyear
1977
Original air date: Sun. May 10, 1987 (10:30 p.m. EDT)[5][6]
Title: “The Glorious Fourth”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Bud Lindemann
1978
Original air date: Tue. May 12, 1987 (10:30 p.m. EDT)[7][8]
Title: “Third Time’s The Charm”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Bud Lindemann
Produced by: Championship Racefilms for Valvoline
1979
Original air date: Fri. May 15, 1987 (8:00 p.m. EDT)[9][10]
Title: “Countdown To 500”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Bud Lindemann
1980
Original air date: Sat. May 16, 1987 (10:30 p.m. EDT)[11][12]
Title: “Partners At 200”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Donald N. Rickles
1981
Original air date: Sun. May 17, 1987 (7:30 p.m. EDT)[13][14]
Title: “A Bittersweet Victory”? “Glory and Agony”? (title unconfirmed)
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Paul Page
1982
Original air date: Tue. May 19, 1987 (7:30 p.m. EDT)[15][16]
Title: “Legends Of The 500”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Paul Page
1983
Original air date: Wed. May 20, 1987 (7:30 p.m. EDT)[17][18]
Title: “The Man In Charge”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Paul Page
1984
Original air date: Thu. May 21, 1987 (8:30 p.m. EDT)[19][20]
Title: “Green Flag At 200”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Paul Page
1985
Original air date: Fri. May 22, 1987 (7:30 p.m. EDT)[21][22]
Title: “Sullivan’s Brickyard”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Paul Page
1986
Original air date: Sat. May 23, 1987 (8:30 p.m. EDT)[23][24]
Title: “A Race To Remember”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Paul Page
1987
Original air date: Sat. May 28, 1988 (6:30 p.m. EDT)[25][26]
Title: “Quest For Excellence”
Hosts: Bob Jenkins & Larry Nuber
Narrator: Paul Page
1988
Original air date: Mon. May 1, 1989 (5:00 p.m. EDT)[27][28]
Title: (title unconfirmed)
Host: Bob Jenkins
Narrator: Paul Page
1989
Original air date: Sat. May 26, 1990 (12:00 p.m. EDT)[29][30]
Title: “A Fast Million”
Host: Bob Jenkins
Narrator: Paul Page
1990
Original air date: Sat. May 18, 1991 (8:00 p.m. EDT)[31][32]
Title: “The Flying Dutchman”
Host: Bob Jenkins
Narrator: Bob Jenkins
1991
Original air date: Sun. Apr. 11, 1992 (1:30 a.m. EDT)[33][34]
Title: “Victory Four Mears”
Host: Bob Jenkins
Narrator: Bob Jenkins
1992
Original air date: Sun. May 9, 1993 (4:00 p.m. EDT)[35]
Title: “Race To The Bricks”
Host: Bob Jenkins
Narrator: Bob Jenkins
1993
Original air date: Sat. May 28, 1994 (1:00 p.m. EDT)[36]
Title: “A Season of Change”
Host: Bob Jenkins
Narrator: Bob Jenkins
1994
Original air date: Sat. May 27, 1995 (2:30 p.m. EDT)[37]
Title: “Passing The Torch”
Introduction: Tom Carnegie
Narrator: Bob Jenkins & IMS Radio Network audio
1995
Original air date: Sat. May 25, 1996 (3:00 p.m. EDT)[38]
Title: “A Big North Win”
Narrator: Bob Jenkins & IMS Radio Network audio
Produced by: Telx Sports
1996
Original air date: Sat. May 24, 1997 (3:30 p.m. EDT)[39]
Title: “The Fastest Field”
Narrator: Bob Jenkins & IMS Radio Network audio

Song notes

Several of the highlight films include background music. The following is a list of some of the song titles.

  • 1975: The live performance of “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band is heard from the footage of the pre-ceremonies.
  • 1976 and 1977 features songs from the LP album Men, Machines and the Moment by Dennis Agajanian. The 1976 episode includes the song “Rollin’ Wheels Keep Rollin'”. The 1977 episode includes the song “Two Fisted Texas Man” (a tribute to A.J. Foyt). According to the album notes, Agajanian (nephew of Indy hall of fame legend J.C. Agajanian) was asked by Fred Bailey to write some songs for Goodyear and Valvoline to include in their Indy 500 highlight films.menmachinesmoment
  • 1976: “Whispering Giant” by Barry Forgie
  • 1976: “New York Stake Out”
  • 1976: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1977: “Sunday in May” by Roland Kovac
  • 1977: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1978: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1979: “All My Way Down” by Wolfram Brunke, GEMA
  • 1979: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Peter Marshall (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1980: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Dr. Richard Smith (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1981: “Brooklyn Heist-14494” by Barry Forgie [PRS]
  • 1982: “Smile” by Wolfgang Muermann
  • 1983: “Haendel Goes Electronic” by Heinz Funk
  • 1983: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1984: “13/8 Improvisation” by Heinz Funk
  • 1984: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1986: The live performance of “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band is heard from the footage of the Sunday rain delay.
  • 1987: “The Gathering (1)-14477” by Tim Souster
  • 1987: “20th Century Revolution (a)” by Graham Francis De Wilde, PRS
  • 1987: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1988: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1989: “Good Shot – De Wolfe Music” by De Wolfe Music Library
  • 1989: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1990: “Air Foil” by Mark W. Wood, ASCAP
  • 1990: “The Machine” by Derek Richars, NS
  • 1991: “Winning Margin – Main Theme – De Wolfe Music” by De Wolfe Music Library
  • 1991: “World Games – De Wolfe Music” by De Wolfe Music Library
  • 1991: The live performance of “Taps” by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1991: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1992: The live performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors (backed by the Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band) is heard from the footage of the pre-race ceremonies.
  • 1992: “Overground – Underscore – De Wolfe Music” by De Wolfe Music Library
  • 1993: “Flying Sorcery” by Howard Pfeifer
  • 1994: “Flying Sorcery” by Howard Pfeifer
  • 1994: “Whistler’s Stepmother” by Al Capps
  • 1994: “The Voyage Home-UPPM” by Killer Tracks
  • 1995: “Flying Sorcery” by Howard Pfeifer
  • 1995: “KT034_05” by UPMkilla

Indy 500 The Classics

After ESPN’s Legends of the Brickyard ceased producing new episodes, a new highlight i500theclassicsshow emerged on a different cable channel. Speedvision (which later became known as SPEED) launched in 1995. One of their early shows was titled Indy 500 The Classics. With a nearly identical format, this program also repackaged the Indianapolis 500 highlight films for television broadcast.

Hosted by Mike King (who would serve as radio “Voice of the 500” from 1999 to 2013) and Speedway historian Donald Davidson, the show featured highlights of the Indianapolis 500 races from 1960 to 1989. King and Davidson offered brief introductions and commentary from inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

The episodes themselves were culled from the same original highlight films as Legends of the Brickyard, although some episodes were differently edited. For example, for the 1982 episode, Indy 500 The Classics included the footage of Gordon Smiley’s fatal crash, while Legends of the Brickyard did not.

Indy 500 The Classics aired on Speedvision during the month of May, as well as during other times of the year from about 1996 to roughly 2001. When the channel reorganized into SPEED in early 2002, the show was discontinued.


The Indy 500: A Race For Heroes

raceforheroescardESPN produced a second Indianapolis 500 related highlight show, beginning in 1989. The Indy 500: A Race For Heroes was a half-hour documentary style program which focused on one particular driver (or car owner) and his career at Indianapolis. This program started with a slate of thirteen episodes in May 1989, then additional episodes were added over the next few years. Most of the episodes featured an Indianapolis 500 winning driver, however, a few non-winners were also profiled. There were also a couple of episodes that profile multiple drivers as a group.

The “Race For Heroes” series utilized various films clips, largely culled from the annual highlight films like those featured in “Legends of the Brickyard.” The episodes documenting older drivers (those that participated in races prior to 1975) used a mix of various film clips and stills. Each episode was narrated by Paul Page or Bob Jenkins.

The series was re-run through about 2000 on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. At least one episode (Mears) was re-edited and updated to include subsequent career accomplishments after the original air-date. For a brief time, episodes were available for streaming on the now-defunct Joost.com, and the A.J. Foyt episode was included on a commemorative DVD from 2007.

Episode list (original air date)

Season 1: 1989

Season 2: 1990

Seasons 3-5: 1991-1993


Additional highlight films

The following is a partial/working list of the titles for the official highlight films for others years released by Indy 500 Films.


References