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Bob Jenkins (1947–2021), longtime Indianapolis 500 announcer

by Linnea Crowther

Bob Jenkins was a TV and radio sports announcer, best known for decades of Indianapolis 500 coverage.

Sports broadcasting

Jenkins was with ESPN when the network debuted in 1979, one of its first anchors. He anchored “NASCAR on ESPN” from 1979 to 2000. Also in 1979, he began working for the IMS Radio Network, and he reported from the backstretch of the Indianapolis 500 that year. It was the first of more than 40 times he’d report on the Indianapolis 500 in various capacities for both radio and television, continuing until 2020. He also covered a wide variety of other races over the years, including the first seven Brickyard 400 races, the U.S. Grand Prix, and the Allstate 400. Jenkins became such a recognizable voice in auto racing coverage that he had small roles in the racing movies “Days of Thunder” (1990) and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006) as an announcer. His voice was also featured in the EA Sports NASCAR video game series.

Notable quote

“[The 1960 Indy 500] was the first one I attended when I was 12 years old. Although I wouldn’t take anything for the memories of traveling to Indianapolis, and riding the train to the Speedway with my father, the ‘60 500 was one of the most exciting in history. I can remember sitting in Grandstand C that day, and looking toward the 4th turn almost every lap, to see if Jim Rathman or Rodger Ward was leading. It would have been fun to be a part of the radio or TV crew that day, but I’ll settle for the fond memories.” —source

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Tributes to Bob Jenkins

Full obituary: Indianapolis Star

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