Terry Wallace, Longtime Voice Of Oaklawn Racing, Has Died

Terry Wallace, longtime Oaklawn track announcer, died Dec. 6, 2018. He was 74.

HOT SPRINGS (KFSM) — Terry Wallace, the longtime announcer for the Oaklawn Racing & Gaming thoroughbred track in Hot Springs, died Thursday morning (Dec. 6). He was 74.

Wallace died from complications from supernuclear palsy, said Oaklawn spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyt. The disease is similar to Parkinson’s, which was the original diagnosis Wallace was given about two years ago. He was correctly diagnosed just recently, Hoyt said.

“Terry was one of the legends of Oaklawn,” Senior Vice President Eric Jackson said. “For generations of Arkansas racing fans, he was the voice of Oaklawn and for a time he was the most recognized voice in the state. It’s a very sad day for the Oaklawn family as we have lost an important part of our history.”

Lou Cella, president of Oaklawn, said he grew up listening to Terry Wallace’s race calls.

“He had so many classic calls,” Cella said. “And he had a way of making even a mundane race seem incredibly exciting.”

Wallace’s voice was familiar to racing fans throughout the country. His excited commentary could easily get racing fans out of their seats at Oaklawn. In addition to his duties as a race caller, Wallace was a race handicapper and would provide his picks to win, place and show before every race, often with great accuracy.

Wallace was with the racetrack for 37 years before finally retiring in 2011 as an announcer. He stayed on at Oaklawn after that as a handicapper and ambassador before finally retiring for good at the end of the 2017 racing season.

He began calling the races at the track in Hot Springs in 1975. He was originally from Cincinnati and held a language

degree from Xavier University. He worked at River Downs in Cincinnati as well as Great Barrignton, Louisiana Downs, Ak-Sar-Ben and Horsemen’s Park, the last two of which helped earn him a spot in the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame.

He was made a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and called more than 20,000 races in a row at Oaklawn, setting a record at 20,191. After ending his streak on Jan. 28, 2011, it was proclaimed “Terry Wallace Day” that day by the Hot Springs mayor. He also received letters of congratulations from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and President Bill Clinton.

Wallace served on the boards of several local charities, including the Garland County chapter of the American Cancer Society Leadership Council. He also worked with the United Way, which has named the Terry Wallace Volunteer Award in his honor. The award is bestowed upon the volunteer who has gone above and beyond, as Wallace often did.

Wallace is survived by wife Alice and two sons, a daughter and four grandchildren.