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Bob Jenkins (born September 4, 1947) is an American television and radio sports announcer best known for his work at ABC and ESPN calling NASCAR and IndyCar telecasts. He is currently the lead commentator for the IndyCar Series on Versus.

Announcing career

ESPN and ABC

Bob Jenkins was born in Richmond, Indianamarker and grew up in the nearby town of Libertymarker. He was one of the original cornerstone anchors on ESPN when it debuted in 1979, working there as one of the most senior members of the network until 2003. His primary duty was anchoring NASCAR on ESPN from 1979-2000 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 1994-2000.

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

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 500marker 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. 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.

Post ABC/ESPN

After being released from ABC/ESPN in 2003, Jenkins joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedwaymarker 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). In 2004, he had a short stint as an announcer for Champ Car on Spike TV 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.

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 2007-2008, 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 Indymarker and the Nikon Indy 300marker in Surfers Paradise. Regular play-by-play announcer Marty Reid was unable to broadcast because of prior engagements.

Versus

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, due to the fact that Versus was hosting a post-race show, and Jenkins would not have time to arrive at the studio in time. Jenkins, however, did record segments for air on the radio broadcast, as all three living "Voices of the 500" (Page, Jenkins, and King) participated in the broadcast.

Movie credits

Jenkins also has two movie credits, both from his positions. In order to be realistic, the race announcers in Days of Thunder were the actual ESPN crew, which meant Jenkins was the announcer, as in real-life, and while at Speed Channel in 2005, he was the Speed anchor in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (released August 4, 2006).

His voice was used in the EA Sports NASCAR video game series, from NASCAR 98 to NASCAR 2001 and in the Codemasters video game IndyCar Series and IndyCar Series 2005.

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

Personal life

Jenkins is a colon cancer survivor and resides in the Indianapolismarker area with his wife Pam.

References

  1. http://www.jayski.com/pages/media.htm



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