Former race caller Terry Wallace dies
Terry Wallace, who was the track announcer for Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., for 37 years, died Thursday after a lengthy illness, according to a press release from the track. Wallace had retired from his post in 2011. Wallace was 74. Wallace spent time as an ambassador for Oaklawn following his announcing career. He is a native of Cincinnati who got his start as an announcer in 1968, when he was a substitute for Chic Anderson at Latonia, now Turfway Park. Wallace’s first race-calling position was at River Downs. He also was the announcer at Louisiana Downs, Ak-Sar-Ben, and Horsemen’s Park. Wallace is in both the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
During his career, Wallace called such historic moments as Steve Cauthen’s first win, at River Downs in 1976; the match race between Who Doctor Who and Explosive Girl at Ak-SarBen in 1988; the Oaklawn Handicap win by Cigar that ranked as ESPN’s race of the year in 1994; and the Arkansas Derby win by Smarty Jones in 2004.
Wallace joined Oaklawn in 1975 and called 20,191 consecutive races at the track in a streak he chose to end on Jan. 28, 2011, by not calling the fifth race. The streak began on Feb. 7, 1975.
“I’m very comfortable in knowing that my record isn’t going to be broken any time soon, so I’m thinking it might be fun to experience the track I love so much from a different perspective,” Wallace said at the time.
The Arkansas legislature once wrote a proclamation declaring Wallace the official voice of Arkansas. Other honors include being named the Arkansas Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s Man of the Year for 2011 and recognition by the United Way for his volunteer work and by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. He retired in June 2011.
“After serious consideration in recent weeks, the time has come to end my run as Oaklawn’s track announcer,” Wallace said at the time. “I’m very thankful for Charles Cella, my fellow employees, and the people of my adopted home of Arkansas for the respect and love I’ve been shown through all my terrific years as the voice of Oaklawn.”
He is survived by wife, Alice, sons Ernie and Jake, and a daughter, Sarah.