Bob Jenkins, former ‘Voice of the 500,’ dies after bout with brain cancer
Bob Jenkins, a longtime motorsports broadcaster known for his legendary work on the Indy 500 and NASCAR, is dead after a battle with brain cancer. He died Monday at 73.
The Liberty, Indiana, native was among four people to serve as the TV play-by-play announcer during ABC’s 54-year run of broadcasting the Indianapolis 500.
After also calling IndyCar races on NBCSN and ESPN, he since had settled into the role since 2011 of IMS’ main PA announcer, inheriting a role that Tom Carnegie made famous for 60 years as the voice of the speedway from 1946-2006. He also had been the chief announcer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network from 1990-98.
“I grew up a fan of all racing, but especially the Indy 500. As a kid and young adult, to keep up with the sport I had to read newspaper articles and racing magazines. And then came Bob Jenkins,” said J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “His familiar IMS Radio Network voice transitioned to the familiar TV screen on shows like ‘SpeedWeek’ and race broadcasts, and he led the transformation of the way race fans enjoyed the sport, which fueled amazing growth in auto racing.
According to IMS, Jenkins went to his first 500 in 1960 and had missed only 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.”
Jenkins came to the track in May while fighting his cancer to receive the Robin Miller Award. According to IMS, Jenkins “made a brief, poignant acceptance speech and was warmly received by a large group of friends and admirers from the racing community and media.”
Racing great Mario Andretti called Jenkins “unforgettable” in a Monday evening tweet: “Our sport has lost a wonderful man and an iconic voice, but Bob Jenkins is unforgettable. Myself and so many others have lost a dear and loyal friend. My sincere condolences to his family. He will be missed.”