Archive for August, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2021) – Veteran radio and television broadcaster Bob Jenkins, a former “Voice of the 500” inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 2019, died Aug. 9 at age 73 after a valiant fight with cancer.

The voice of the Liberty, Indiana, native was heard globally over five decades on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, serving several positions, including chief announcer from 1990 through 1998. Jenkins was one of only four people to serve as television play-by-play announcer in ABC’s 54-year history of broadcasting the Indianapolis 500.

With an easygoing, friendly style that mirrored his personality, the beloved and respected Jenkins anchored NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on television and was a frequent contributor to the public address system at IMS. Jenkins also was a frequent master of ceremonies at “500”-related functions, including the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration.

In one form or another, Jenkins was connected to IMS for more than 40 years, and his most familiar call was the thrilling finish of the 1992 race between Al Unser Jr. and Scott Goodyear.

“The checkered flag is out, Goodyear makes a move, Little Al wins by just a few tenths of a second, perhaps the closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis 500,” Jenkins said on radio, his baritone voice climbing a few octaves.

The victory margin of .043 of a second remains the closest finish in the race’s 105-year history.

Jenkins attended his first “500” in 1960 and said he had only missed two races since – in 1961 when he couldn’t get anyone to take him, and in 1965 when he was on a trip as a high school senior. He came to the track last May while fighting his illness to receive the Robin Miller Award, where he made a brief, poignant acceptance speech and was warmly received by a large group of friends and admirers from the racing community and media.

Indiana University graduate Jenkins turned his love of music into a job in radio, first as a news reporter at stations in Fort Wayne and Valparaiso and then at WIRE in Indianapolis as the co-anchor of a nationally syndicated farm news show “AgDay.”

Jenkins, who had attended Indiana dirt-track races with his father, landed his first position in motorsports in 1979 as the backstretch announcer on the IMS Radio Network. His friend Paul Page, a member of that broadcast team and an employee at rival WIBC, helped him land the job. Later, Page helped Jenkins start the USAC Radio Network.

Jenkins was one of the first on-air employees of ESPN when it launched in 1979. For more than 20 years, he was the lead voice of NASCAR races for ESPN and occasionally ABC, including the first seven Brickyard 400s at IMS. His pairing with former stock car drivers Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons became one of the popular trios in motorsports broadcasting history.

If there was a form of motorsports on U.S. television, Jenkins likely was involved with it at some point in his career.

Along with his NASCAR and IMS work, Jenkins anchored for the Indianapolis-based company that produced ESPN’s popular “Thunder” series broadcasts of USAC Sprint Car and Midget series races, and he was the host of “SpeedWeek” on ESPN.

Jenkins’ voice was used in several motorsports video games and films, including NASCAR-centric “Days of Thunder” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

Jenkins was a colon cancer survivor in the 1980s and retired from television in 2012 to care for his wife, Pam, who had her own cancer battle. She died that October. In February 2021, Jenkins revealed he had been diagnosed with two malignant tumors behind his right temple following a severe headache on Christmas night.

The track build for the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, the first new temporary street course circuit on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule in a decade, is taking shape for the highly anticipated Aug. 6-8 motorsports weekend in downtown Nashville.

Nearly 75 percent of the 2,000 12-foot sections of a brand-new barrier and fencing modular system are in place on the 2.17-mile layout as work continues this week between 8 p.m.-5 a.m. on the 18-day, Sunday-through-Thursday construction calendar. The state-of-the-art, energy-absorbing system, which meets all the most recent FIA testing requirements, will line the layout that includes the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge and the campus of Nissan Stadium.

The coming days also will include continued improvements such as grinding transitions, adding new expansion joints to the bridge, erecting crossover bridges and releveling manhole covers before they are welded shut during race week. Other significant prior work on the layout included a complete repave for the pit lane area, including entry and exit, as well as creating concrete pit boxes to accommodate up to 30 cars if needed.

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is among four temporary street circuit venues on the 2021 schedule – joining St. Petersburg, Detroit and Long Beach – but will be the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ first new temporary street course event since 2011 when the Grand Prix of Baltimore made its debut. The layout and build are being spearheaded by NZR Consulting Principal Tony Cotman, a veteran track designer and builder of temporary street courses.

The signature segment of the 11-turn layout will be the cars racing across the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, which stretches across the Cumberland River and connects East Nashville with downtown.

“While running over a bridge may be different or new, at the end of the day you are just purely building a racetrack,” Cotman said. “In this situation, the track goes down one side (of the bridge) and then the other, and it will certainly showcase the city of Nashville well. When you see that bridge, you will know where this race is from anywhere in the world.”

So how did Nashville’s iconic bridge wind up in the downtown layout? The proposed course was established from the outset that the Tennessee Titans and Nissan Stadium were going to be vital partners in this event coming to fruition.

“Early on, we were aware that a significant portion of the track was going to involve the Titans’ stadium, not only the track but pit lane as well since there were not a lot of areas that could handle that footprint,” Cotman said. “So, we started on the Titans’ side of the river and branched out looking for straights and the bridge came into play due to the lengths of the straightaways. They are about 3,400 to 3,500 feet in length, which is equivalent to the frontstretch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The bridge also could present passing opportunities for drivers.

“If a driver gets a better corner exit than another, you will be able to overtake them especially with the width of the track over the bridge,” Cotman said. “Forty feet is the typical width of a racetrack, and we are 40 feet wide on each side.”

However, the prime passing opportunities, according to Cotman, may be Turns 4, 9 and 10, the latter two being left-handers after coming off the bridge straightway.

“That first corner (9) coming off the bridge is as wide as Cleveland and fast with a massive run-off area, so drivers will be enticed, especially with multiple lines into the corner,” said Cotman, referring to the old street circuit that was run on the expansive runways of Burke Lakefront Airport. “Then you have a straightaway from Turn 9 heading into Turn 10 that could be another location for overtaking.”

One of the aspects that Cotman relishes about this layout is the spectator viewing from various grandstands.

“You can’t get away from the uniqueness of the bridge and what it brings,” Cotman said. “Two of the high points are when you see the bridge you know exactly where the race is, and number two is the viewing locations coming off that bridge. Due to the shape of the street and width as well as the barrier locations, there are some great viewing opportunities coming off the bridge.

“Overall, you can see a lot of action from different grandstands, and we really want to put on a good show for the fans. With this being a new event and the teams have no data to fall back on usually makes for a good event.”

On-track action begins Friday, Aug. 6, including the opening NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice at 4:10 p.m. (ET). The weekend culminates Sunday, Aug. 8, with the running of the 80-lap Big Machine Music City Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES race beginning at 5:30 p.m. (NBCSN).

For more information on the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, visit musiccitygp.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @musiccitygp. Limited single-day grandstand tickets, general admission tickets and festival add-ons are available at http://www.musiccitygp.com/tickets or by calling the Tennessee Titans’ ticket office at 615-565-4650.

Indianapolis (Thursday, July 22, 2021) – Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott and NTT INDYCAR SERIES veteran Conor Daly were named to drive entries in the third Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink on Aug. 18-19 at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Elliott will compete in the United States Auto Club (USAC) NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship event for the first time. He will drive the No. 9 entry fielded by Paul May Motorsports.

Eight-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge starter Daly raced in 2018 and 2019 in this event on the quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 of IMS. The event didn’t take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year Daly will drive the No. 47D entry fielded by Diaedge Racing.

Tickets are on sale now at IMS.com/BC39. Reserved seat ticket prices for qualifying and the feature event Thursday, Aug. 19 start at $35, the same price as in 2019.

Elliott, 25, earned his first Cup Series championship last season with Hendrick Motorsports. He is fifth in the Cup Series standings this season with two victories, qualifying him for the NASCAR Playoffs for all six seasons of his full-time Cup career.

Georgia native Elliott made two USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget starts in February at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida, finishing 14th and 18th. Elliott also raced in the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals in January.

Daly, 29, from Noblesville, Indiana, is a two-time veteran of the Chili Bowl, racing in the indoor classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2019 and 2020.

The BC39 event on the quarter-mile dirt oval inside Turn 3 at IMS will continue to honor late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increase awareness of and participation in the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.

This year’s Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink also will be the conclusion of nearly a week of exciting action on the road course and The Dirt Track at IMS. The NASCAR-INDYCAR tripleheader takes place Aug. 13-15, with the Big Machine Spiked Coolers for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard for the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday, Aug. 14 and the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard for the NASCAR Cup Series on the IMS road course for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15.