‘One Track Mind’: IMS Safety Patrol’s Judy Steffey

Published On January 27, 2015 » 2255 Views» By admin » Blogs, IMS, IMS Staff Stories, Indy 500

This is a series spotlighting the men and women who work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and their stories from the “The Racing Capital of the World.” For more, click here.

From her seat at the Guard Shack at the main entrance inside 16th Street, Judy Steffey has perhaps met and assisted more visitors to IMS than anyone else. Race car drivers, team personnel, tourists, fans, vendors, media, law enforcement and countless others have crossed her post since 1992, when Steffey began as a “Yellow Shirt.” She was encouraged to take the job by her father, Tom Reese, himself a 54-year member of the IMS Safety Patrol.

Among Steffey’s most cherished memories are working with Tom Carnegie, the world-famous public address voice of the Indianapolis 500 from 1946-2006.

“For the last six years or so that he was here, me and my staff, it was our responsibility to get him around and it took eight of us to get his electric chair wherever he wanted to go. He stopped and talked to everyone. We’d tell him that he would have 10 minutes to get to the announce booth and he didn’t hesitate to shake hands or sign autographs or whatever. You’d have to prod him along, but we always got him there on time.

Tom Carnegie and Judy Steffey, pictured in 2003.

Tom Carnegie and Judy Steffey, pictured in 2003.

“During those times fans would often ask Carnegie to say his signature phrases ‘Heeeeeeees on it,’ and ‘It’s a neeeeeeww traaaaaack record,’ and he was always happy to oblige. ‘Oh yes, say it for us one more time, Tom,’ the fans would plead. ‘He would stop for anybody who wanted to hear ‘It’s a new track record.’

“As a thank you, he gave me all his collector pins and credentials from those years. I was shocked and honored that he would do that, and I have them tucked away at home. He had a Speedway photographer take our picture and he autographed it for me when the photographer sent it to him.

“It was overwhelming for somebody you have so much respect for and is so well known to do something like that. I asked him, Tom, don’t you want to keep these for your family, and he said ‘No, and I want the picture to remember.’ He was a legend. I miss him and his wonderful voice.”

If you've come through the 16th Street entrance to IMS in the last 20 years, you've likely seen Judy Steffey.

If you’ve come through the 16th Street entrance to IMS in the last 20 years, you’ve likely seen Judy Steffey.

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2 comments
MikeReese
MikeReese

Judy certainly deserves the recognition for all the years of service and the many contributions she has made. Everyone knows Judy and knows she will get the job done.

JohnMiller7
JohnMiller7

When Tom moved to Zionsville in the early 60's His oldest son Blair was my classmate (Class Of 1965). Tom's real name was Carl Kenagy, his two other children were Charlotte and Robert. Blair now lives in New Mexico and comes in every year for the race. Tom was just as nice at home as he was at the track. He always made me feel welcome. I grew up listening to his voice over the IMS PA System and on the radio with Paul "Tony" Hinkle broadcasting the IHSAA tournament games and broadcasting from Tournament Central. The two used to come into The Friendly Tavern in Zionsville and get hammered. You have never seen two more obnoxious "drunks: than those two. LOL !