Bob Jenkins

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For the fictional character, see Almost Normal.
For the NASCAR team owner, see Front Row Motorsports.
For the American football halfback, see Bob Jenkins (American football).
Bob Jenkins
Jenkins at the 1985 Indianapolis 500
Born (1947-09-04) September 4, 1947 (age 69)
Richmond, Indiana
Nationality United States American
Education Indiana University
Occupation Announcer
Known for Calling NASCAR and IndyCar races on ABC and ESPN

Bob Jenkins (born November 4, 1947) is a television and radio sports announcer with NBC Sports Network, also known for his work at ABC and ESPN[1] primarily calling IndyCar and NASCAR telecasts. His most recent position was the lead commentator for the IndyCar Series on NBC Sports Network. He retired from broadcasting after the 2012 IndyCar season finale to care for his wife Pam who was battling brain cancer. After his wife's death that offseason, it was announced by Indycar and NBC officials that he would come out of retirement for Indianapolis 500 final practice coverage in 2013, and would be available in a reserve role.[2][3]

Announcing career[edit]

ESPN and ABC[edit]

Bob Jenkins was born in Richmond, Indiana, and grew up in the nearby town of Liberty. He graduated from Short High School in 1965 and Indiana University in 1969. He was one of the original cornerstone anchors on ESPN when it debuted in 1979,[2][4] working there as one of the most senior members of the network until 2003. His primary duty was anchoring NASCAR on ESPN from 1979 to 2000 with Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons. The trio was one of the most popular announcing crews in NASCAR. By the early 1990s, the crew (sans Jarrett, who was contracted with CBS) would also cover races on ABC Sports. During the 1980s, Jenkins also occasionally called CART races on ESPN, prior to the arrival of veteran Paul Page.

Jenkins hosted the weekly racing magazine show SpeedWeek during most of his tenure at ESPN. Jenkins was the television announcer of the Brickyard 400 on ABC from 1994 to 2000.

Concurrent to his work on ESPN & ABC, from 1979 to 1998, Jenkins worked on the IMS Radio Network.[2] He reported various positions, including the backstretch, turn four, and served as chief announcer of the Indy 500 from 1990 to 1998.

By 1999, Jenkins quit the radio crew to focus on television full-time. The ongoing IRL/CART split forced changes in the announcing crews at ESPN/ABC. In addition, ESPN/ABC would be losing NASCAR rights at the end of the season. Paul Page was assigned to the CART series broadcasts, and Jenkins was moved exclusively to the chief announcing position of the IRL and Indianapolis 500 broadcasts. The arrangement would continue through 2001.

For 2002, with CART floundering, Page was moved back to the IRL, and Jenkins was shifted to the lesser host position. The arrangement created a "crowded" booth with two veteran announcers. In 2003, on Bump Day at the Indy 500 on ESPN, Jenkins made an impassioned commentary, defending the event from media detractors.[5] Many were ridiculing the race and the IRL for struggling to fill the field to the traditional 33 cars.

At the end of the 2003 season, Jenkins was released from ABC/ESPN.

Prior ABC/ESPN[edit]

Co-anchor for nationally syndicated farm news show, "AgDay".

Post ABC/ESPN[edit]

After being released from ABC/ESPN in 2003, Jenkins joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway staff in various roles including public address announcer and designated emcee of various events and press gatherings (such as the Victory Banquet, Last Row Party, and press conferences). The 2003 Brickyard 400 was his first foray as part of the P.A. team. In 2004, he had a short stint as an announcer for Champ Car on Spike TV[6] but was soon fired by the production company. He joined SPEED and was an anchor for Speed News for a little over one year. Jenkins has also been a contributor to WIBC radio in Indianapolis.

In June 2006, Jenkins was released from his contract with SPEED. According to Jayski's Silly Season Site, in early 2006 Jenkins became the communications director for the Premier Racing Association.[7]

In July 2006, he was the chief announcer of the IMS Radio Network for the U.S. Grand Prix. In 2007, he was the announcer of Indy Pro Series broadcasts on ESPN2. He anchored the Allstate 400 on the radio, his first NASCAR race call since November 2000. For 2007–08, he returned to the IMS Radio Network for the Indy 500, reporting from the turn two position.

In 2008, Jenkins returned to the ESPN booth for two IndyCar races, the Rexall Edmonton Indy and the Nikon Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise. Regular play-by-play announcer Marty Reid was unable to broadcast because of prior engagements.


In 2009, the IndyCar Series started a new television contract with Versus. Jenkins was signed as the chief announcer, and returned to Indy racing full-time for the first time since 2001. He opted out of reprising his turn two role on the radio network, because Versus was hosting a post-race show, and Jenkins would not have time to arrive at the studio in time. Jenkins, however, recorded segments for air on the radio broadcast, as all three living "Voices of the 500" (Page, Jenkins, and King) participated in the broadcast.

In 2011, Jenkins continued at NBC Sports Group. During the month of May, and on race day at Indianapolis, he continued his part-time work on the public address announcing team, a gig that continues for the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard and the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. He announced on 2012 Indianapolis 500 Carb Day airing on May 25, 2012, that he would retire from broadcasting after the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships in Fontana, California, in September. Jenkins announced the retirement as a result of his wife Pam, who had terminal brain cancer and died shortly after the season ended.

For 2013, he will be working in public address system at both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the United States Auto Club's Silver Crown Series, Jenkins will stay with NBC in a reserve role at the Indianapolis 500 during Carburetion Day coverage and race day coverage, including final practice, the pit stop contest, and the Firestone Freedom 100. This will be as a substitute for Leigh Diffey, his successor who is unavailable that weekend. Jenkins will be available in a reserve role should Diffey be unavailable for other races, alongside Rick Allen, the current lead broadcaster for NBC's NASCAR coverage.

Jenkins, still at the Speedway for the public address system, has also opened some vingettes for NBC's NASCAR coverage both in the daily (NASCAR America) and pre-race shows.

Indianapolis 500 broadcasting duties[edit]

  • 1979-1980: Backstretch reporter (IMS Radio Network)
  • 1981-1989: Turn four reporter (IMS Radio Network)
  • 1990-1998: Chief announcer (IMS Radio Network)
  • 1999-2001: Chief announcer (ABC television)
  • 2002-2003: Host (ABC television)
  • 2004-2006: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Public Address system announcer
  • 2007-2008: Turn two reporter (IMS Radio Network)
  • 2009-2011: Guest analyst: (IMS Radio Network), Post-race coverage (Versus)
  • 2011-2016: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Public Address system announcer (turn 4 in 2013)

Movie credits[edit]

Jenkins also has three movie credits, one of which was an on-camera appearance. In order to be realistic, the race announcers in the movie Days of Thunder were the actual ESPN crew of the time, which meant Jenkins was the announcer in several voice-over scenes. While at Speed Channel in 2005, he was the Speed anchor in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. He also did voice over work in the movie Kart Racer.

His voice was used in the EA Sports NASCAR video game series, from NASCAR 98 to NASCAR 2001, the Codemasters video game IndyCar Series and IndyCar Series 2005 as well as the Destineer Games video game Indianapolis 500 Evolution.

His most recent work can be heard in the trailer for the independent film Trifocals (March, 2007).

Personal life[edit]

Jenkins is a colon cancer survivor[4][8] and resides in the Indianapolis area. His wife Pam died from complications of brain cancer in Carmel, Indiana on October 25, 2012.[9]


  1. ^ "Jenkins: Parsons loved eats, song with colleague". 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b c "Experienced lineup". 2009-01-14. Archived from the original on 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  3. ^ "Oct. 26: On Bob Jenkins and an Italian race". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Versus' IndyCar voice Jenkins true survivor". Sports Couch Potato. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  5. ^ ""500" diary; 48 down and still in love". bob jennings' WORLD O' RACING. 2003-06-07. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  6. ^ "Champ Car announces telecast station". 2004-03-10. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Bartlett, Jeff (2001-04-08). "Jenkins a cancer survivor". The Herald-Times. Retrieved 2016-12-17. 
  9. ^ "Oct. 26: On Bob Jenkins and an Italian race". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Lou Palmer
Radio voice of the
Indianapolis 500

Succeeded by
Mike King
Preceded by
Paul Page
Television voice of the
Indianapolis 500

Succeeded by
Paul Page