Central Indiana is home to numerous race tracks featuring racing at every skill level. These tracks provide not only a fun night out for fans and drivers alike but also serve as an anchor for the community.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Torry Stiles’ race day begins well before the gates open.
On a Friday afternoon in late June, Stiles arrived at the Indianapolis Speedrome about four hours before the first heat race begins. He spent the first part of his afternoon walking around the pits, talking to drivers. One driver barely into his teens had a broken wrist. Another young driver made the honor roll at school. A third has his hair cut into a long mullet. A much older driver who Stiles remembers from years past is now racing alongisde his adult son.
Stiles, the track announcer, will remember these little details.
“Later on, it’s usually a blur and all I’ve got is a piece of paper, usually, to try to know who’s who,” he said. “Gives you something to talk about in between.”
Located on the east side of Indianapolis just off I-465, the Speedrome has been part of Stiles’s life since he was a teenager. When his family bought the track in 1977, he said he and his brother helped install new wooden bleacher seating.
“I tried my hand at driving, I wasn’t any good. Tried my hand at working on cars, wasn’t any good,” he said, “and just kind of growing up with this thing from the time I was 16, I love being part of it. I love being the one to put the sizzle on the steak out here.”
Stiles is back in the announcer booth by the time practice begins at 5 p.m. Even though racing doesn’t begin for another two hours, Stiles has to provide commentary for people watching the Speedrome’s camera feed online. His announcements also cue pit crews when they need to get their cars out on the track.
Even though there are certain things he needs to say at certain times, especially for sponsor messages or public services announcements, he said the job is much more than reading a script.
“These are human beings. They go to work, they are kids, they have kids, they have moms in the stands who want to hear their names,” he said. “I’m here to make everybody proud of them and do my best to make what they do significant to the world.”
Stiles announced at the track off and on over the past 40 years until his family sold the track. Five years ago, he said the track’s current owners asked him to come back as the full-time announcer. He now handles announcer duties at the Speedrome and at Circle City Raceway at the Marion County Fairgrounds. The same people own both tracks.
Stiles said sincerity and personality are the key to being a good race track announcer. In addition, announcers have to be familiar enough with the sport to be able to teach someone else about it.