MADISON, Ill. – His voice has been synonymous with calling the action at racing events across the country for 40 years, and now Bob Jenkins is bringing his familiar and welcome tone to World Wide Technology Raceway.
Jenkins has joined the public address team for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline weekend, featuring the NTT IndyCar Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series and more.
“I’m really looking forward to being there and I know it’s going to be a great weekend,” Jenkins said.
Starting for what was then the fledgling ESPN in late 1979, calling a U.S. Auto Club Sprint Car race at Salem Speedway in southern Indiana, Jenkins got in on the ground floor of televised race play-by-play.
Along the way, he covered sprint and midget races for ESPN’s famed “Thunder” series, off-road and drag racing and predominantly NASCAR, when he formed a legendary trio with Benny Parsons and Ned Jarrett.
But being from Indianapolis, Jenkins’ heart has always been with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500.
“Open-wheel has always been my thing,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to work at Indy in some capacity, either in radio or public address. I haven’t missed a 500 since 1966. Fortunately, I was able to end my career (as a TV commentator) with what was then Versus, which is now NBCSN, doing my favorite kind of motorsports.”
Now officially retired, Jenkins still works on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address team for the Indy 500 and NASCAR Brickyard 400.
Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager at World Wide Technology Raceway, is keenly aware of Jenkins’ legacy and the affinity race fans have for him, so he asked Jenkins to join the WWTR PA team this year.
“Since St. Louis is relatively close and it’s an interesting race track, I said sure,” Jenkins recalled. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s always been a fun race track and they do a lot of promotion and have a great crowd. I’m really excited about helping them out.”
Jenkins still follows the NTT IndyCar Series closely, but admitted he’ll be studying up on the other series racing this weekend to become familiar with the drivers and teams. He’ll lean on others on the PA team for their expertise as well. And he’s excited for the opportunity.
“I love the shape of the track and that it’s different,” Jenkins said of Gateway. “I think it’s going to be fun weekend.”