06/16/2011 12:09PM

Oaklawn Park: Announcer Terry Wallace retires after 37 years

Barbara D. Livingston
"After serious consideration in recent weeks, the time has come to end my run as Oaklawn’s track announcer," Wallace said in a release.

Terry Wallace, who for the past 37 years has been the track announcer at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., has retired from that position. Wallace plans to continue his affiliation with Oaklawn, which opens again in January, in other areas.

“After serious consideration in recent weeks, the time has come to end my run as Oaklawn’s track announcer,” he said in a release. “It is time for a new person to have the same opportunities I’ve been given here. While I still have good health, I can continue to be a member of the Oaklawn family in other roles. 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.”

Wallace, 66, has been called the “most recognizable voice in Arkansas.” He called 20,191 consecutive races at Oaklawn in a streak he chose to end this past meet, by not calling the fifth race on Jan. 28, 2011. Frank Mirahmadi, who this year was hired as a back-up announcer at Oaklawn, called the race that ended the streak as Wallace went downstairs and watched on the apron with fans. He continued to serve in something of an “ambassador’s role” a handful of times this past meet, leaving the announcer’s booth to be downstairs with patrons for an occasional race. During those Friday afternoon excursions, Rolly Hoyt, a media relations staff member for Oaklawn, covered for Wallace.

Oaklawn will soon launch a search for its next announcer. The track’s 56-date meet opens Jan. 13, 2012.

Wallace was named the Arkansas Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s Man of the Year during a surprise announcement this past spring at the organization’s national convention. In addition, during the most recent legislative session in Arkansas, a proclamation was written declaring Wallace the official voice of Arkansas.

A behind-the-scenes look at a Terry Wallace race call from February 2009.