Title card used from 1987 to 1992.
Dr. Jerry Punch
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||1 to 4 hours (depends on Live or Tape Delay event)|
|Original network||ESPN and ESPN2|
|Original release||1979– 2006|
ESPN SpeedWorld (formerly Auto Racing '79–'86) is the name of a former television series broadcast on ESPN from 1979–2006. The program that was based primarily based around NASCAR, CART, IMSA, Formula One, NHRA, and IHRA. The theme music is a based on the piano interlude from "18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)" by Cat Stevens.
ESPN Auto Racing (1979–1986)
When ESPN debuted in 1979, one of the first sporting events that they covered was auto racing. Initially the name of the show routinely changed to fit with the corresponding year at the time. Thus, when the program debuted, it was called Auto Racing '79, and then Auto Racing '80, Auto Racing '81 and so forth. This practice was dropped after 1986, when the name of the program was changed to SpeedWorld. The original commentators were primarily Bob Jenkins and Larry Nuber, who covered many diverse types of competition. Ultimately, by 1987, SpeedWorld's coverage encompassed not only Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR Winston Cup (and its feeder series such as Busch Grand National, ASA, and ARCA), and IMSA Sportscar Racing, but also racing less familiar to the average person, such as NHRA drag racing, USAC sprints and midgets, rallying, motorcycle racing, monster trucks and more. So many types of racing that were vastly different meant that specialisation in broadcasting teams was necessary, so while Bob and Larry continued with Winston Cup coverage, newer faces such as Paul Page and Bob Varsha began to take their places for broadcasts of other racing.
Impact of NASCAR
ESPN began showing NASCAR races in 1981 with the first event being at North Carolina Speedway, which brought NASCAR to huge popularity. The last of its 265 Cup telecasts (that number includes some on ABC Sports) was the 2000 Atlanta fall race (now the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500). ESPN and ESPN2 continued to air Craftsman Truck Series races in 2001 and 2002.
SpeedWorld's final years
After losing the rights to NASCAR Winston Cup (and Busch Series) broadcasts for the 2001 season, ESPN slowly began losing the remainder of their racing to other networks. For their 2002 season, CART signed a TV contract with Speed Channel and CBS, ending ESPN's partnership with CART that had begun 20 years before. For 2003 the International Race of Champions likewise moved to the Speed Channel, as did NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. Since ESPN's reporters were no longer allowed (by NASCAR) to report from within the racetrack for RPM 2Night segments (due to their contract with Fox and NBC/TNT), the weeknight show eventually came to an end. However, ESPN was not completely without racing, as Indy Racing League, its Indy Pro Series development championship, and the NHRA were still on ESPN's lineup.
The SpeedWorld blanket title was discontinued in 2006; the final event aired under the branding was an NHRA championship event in Pomona, California. Sister network ABC has maintained a package of IndyCar events produced by ESPN (pay television rights are held by NBCSN), and NASCAR events would return to ESPN and ABC from 2007 to 2014, holding rights to the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series; these events were instead branded as NASCAR on ESPN.
- Names in bold indicate the current broadcasters who are with ESPN (and ABC)'s motorsports team as of 2015.
- Jack Arute (IndyCar and occasional NASCAR broadcasts)
- Dave Despain (NASCAR, AMA Supercross and USAC, including Saturday Night Thunder)
- Ray Dunlap (occasional NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series broadcasts in its early years)
- Chris Economaki (Formula One)
- Gary Gerould (CART Dayton Indy Lights, NHRA)
- Todd Harris (Indy Racing League)
- Bob Jenkins (NASCAR, Select IMSA races, select ARCA races, CART IndyCar, and IRL)
- Mike Joy (early NASCAR broadcasts, including ESPN's first live NASCAR race at Atlanta in 1981)
- Mike King (IRL Indy Pro Series)
- Dave McClelland (NHRA)
- Larry Nuber (NASCAR USAC IHRA and IndyCar)
- Paul Page (CART, IRL, IMSA, and NHRA)
- Dr. Jerry Punch (NASCAR)
- Marty Reid (IRL, NASCAR, NHRA)
- Bob Varsha (Formula One IHRA and Sports Car events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans)
Expert analysts (drivers and crew chiefs)
- Bill Adam (IMSA and other Sports Car races)
- Michael Andretti (briefly, after an early accident in the 1995 Road America 200)
- Jon Beekhuis (CART Indy Lights, occasional CART Champ Car races)
- Derek Bell (Formula One)
- Robbie Buhl (Indy Pro Series)
- Doc Bundy (junior formula racing series, such as Barber Saab)
- Jeff Burton (International Race of Champions, or IROC)
- Steve Chassey (Saturday Night Thunder)
- Jeremy Dale (Craftsman Truck Series)
- Derek Daly (Formula One and IndyCar)
- Gil de Ferran (Indy Racing League in 2004)
- Ray Evernham (Craftman Truck Series, IROC, and Winston Cup on ABC)
- Chip Ganassi (1984 Mid-Ohio IndyCar 200)
- Scott Goodyear (Indy Racing League and IROC)
- Don Garlits (NHRA)
- Davey Hamilton (Indy Pro Series)
- David Hobbs (Formula One and Sports Car racing)
- Ned Jarrett (NASCAR and ARCA)
- Gordon Johncock (IndyCar)
- Parker Johnstone (CART FedEx Championship)
- P.J. Jones (occasional CART FedEx Championship Series races)
- Tommy Kendall (occasional CART FedEx Championship Series races)
- Rick Mears (1986 Bud at The Glen Winston Cup race)
- Gary Nelson (NASCAR)
- Cruz Pedregon (NHRA)
- Benny Parsons (NASCAR, ARCA and IROC)
- Phil Parsons (NASCAR)
- Kyle Petty (NASCAR and ARCA)
- Sam Posey (IROC on both ABC and ESPN)
- Jason Priestley (Indy Racing League)
- Dan Pastorini (NHRA)
- Larry Rice (Saturday Night Thunder and other USAC related events, and the IRL)
- Nigel Roebuck (Formula One)
- Johnny Rutherford (IndyCar)
- Elton Sawyer (early SuperTruck races)
- Dorsey Schroeder (occasional Winston Cup road races, such as Watkins Glen in 1993)
- Scott Sharp (IROC)
- Mike Skinner (Craftsman Truck Series, 2002 Florida Dodge Dealers 250)
- Tom Sneva (IRL)
- Danny Sullivan (CART and IRL)
- KC Spurlock (NHRA)
- Rusty Wallace (IRL in 2006)
- Rodger Ward (IndyCar)
Pit reporters and RPM 2Night contributors
- James Allen (Formula One, CART)
- Jack Arute (CART, IRL, and NASCAR)
- Jon Beekhuis (CART)
- Dick Berggren (NASCAR)
- Ray Dunlap (NASCAR)
- Steve Evans (NHRA)
- Gary Gerould (CART, IRL, and NHRA)
- Todd Harris (IRL)
- Eddie Irvine (Formula One)
- Jamie Little (IRL and NASCAR)
- Andrew Marriott (Formula One)
- Kenny Mayne (RPM 2Night)
- Larry Nuber (IndyCar and NASCAR)
- Benny Parsons (was an occasional pit reporter for NASCAR broadcasts before his permanent booth position)
- Kyle Petty (NASCAR)
- Dr. Jerry Punch (NASCAR, CART, and IRL)
- Marty Reid (Formula One, CART, IHRA, IRL, NASCAR, sports cars, USAC)
- Lyn St. James (IndyCar)
- Ralph Sheheen (Sports car racing)
- Darrell Waltrip (IROC)
- Bill Weber (NASCAR)
- Vince Welch (IRL)
- Matt Yocum (NASCAR in 2000)
- "Bill Elliott is racing into the record books. Bill Elliott is going towards immortality. Bill Elliott gets the checkered flag! Bill Elliott has won an additional one million dollars in 1985!"
- "Now Ricky Rudd is inside of Dale Earnhardt...as they go into Turn number one and both of them spin!"
- "Bill Elliott comes off the fourth corner; he wins the Hooters 500! And Alan Kulwicki is coming out of corner number four, knowing that he's winning the championship. There's the checkered flag for Alan! He's the champion for '92!"
- "Labonte is sideways, but wins the race; crashes, and he wins anyway! How about that?! Woah! Labonte crossed the line sideways, took the checkered flag, hit the wall, and still comes out the winner of the Goody's 500 over Dale Earnhardt!"
- "De Ferran, Blundell; here comes Boesel in third! To the line they come! And Mark Blundell takes the victory!"
Bob Varsha calling the 1997 Budweiser Grand Prix of Portland, when Mark Blundell won the drag race with leader Gil de Ferran off the final turn by .027 of a second (27 thousandths), with Raul Boesel joining the photo finish just .055 of a second behind
- "Coming to the white flag, there's a leader change and Labonte takes the lead! Ohhh!!! And Earnhardt...spins him out!"
- "Oh Look Out! We got trouble, this is going to hurt!"
Marty Reid, which later he would say "keep your fingers crossed" after the accident, calling the big wreck on lap 57 at the Daytona truck race in 2000, when Geoff Bodine had an horrific crash which sent him towards the fence.
- "The No Bull 5 contender; "Mr. Restrictor Plate"! Dale Earnhart comes down, and will take his (record) 10th career victory at Talladega!"
- "First lap for Gil de Ferran; 241.428 miles an hour! That breaks Maurício Gugelmin's (California lap) record, that breaks the closed-course record, and that puts him on the pole!"
- "Back in March of '81, Darrell Waltrip took the checkered flag to win the very first race we televised on ESPN, and in November 2000...Jerry Nadeau wins the final (NASCAR Winston Cup) race on ESPN!"
Bob Jenkins calling the 2000 NAPA 500; ESPN Speedworld's final Winston Cup broadcast
- "De Ferran's right there, doing everything he can; de Ferran goes high...and de Ferran takes (Kenny Brack)! De Ferran takes him on the final corner of the final lap, and Gil de Ferran wins his first race of the year!"
Paul Page calling the 2001 Rockingham 500, when Gil de Ferran passed CART title rival Kenny Brack on the outside of the final turn on the final lap