(July 17, 1922-May 2, 1977). Born Sidney Cahn in Indianapolis, Collins, as a youth, assisted his father in a family-owned store and attended Public School 66 (see Indianapolis Public Schools). His journalistic talents came to light as editor of the Shortridge High School Daily Echo. Intending to study medicine, he attended Indiana University and graduated with a bachelor of science degree. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Collins began his broadcasting career at WKMO in Kokomo, Indiana.

A man seated at a table sorts through a large pile of letters being dumped onto the table by another man.
Sid Collins (standing) and Easy Gwynn sorted through a large bag of letters at the WIBC 1070 radio offices, 1949 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1947 Collins joined the staff of Wibc, Indianapolis, to sell advertising and soon became a radio announcer and host for “P.M. Party.” He earned an assignment as a track announcer at the 1948 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and became the chief announcer in 1952 when WIBC went to lap-by-lap live coverage of the event.

Anton (Tony) Hulman Jr., owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, called Collins the “Voice of the 500,” a position he held for over 20 years (see Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network). Collins, who achieved worldwide fame for his broadcasts, originated the phrase “the greatest spectacle in racing,” which became synonymous with the race itself.

Besides serving as sports director at WIBC, Collins was a vibrant public speaker, master of ceremonies, and broadcasting personality. He received many honors, including Indiana Sportscaster of the Year, Sagamore of the Wabash, and was the first broadcaster to receive the key to the City of Indianapolis.

Soon after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Collins took his own life. He is buried at Indianapolis Hebrew Cemetery, South.

Revised February 2021

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