By Mark Robinson
His voice has been synonymous with calling the action at racing events across the country for 40 years. Now, Bob Jenkins is bringing his familiar and welcome tone to World Wide Technology Raceway.
Jenkins has joined the public address team for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline weekend involving the NTT IndyCar Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series and more.
“I’m really looking forward to being there and I know it’s going to be a great weekend,” Jenkins said.
Starting for what was then the fledgling ESPN in late 1979, calling a U.S. Auto Club Sprint Car race at Salem Speedway in southern Indiana, Jenkins got in on the ground floor of televised race play-by-play. Along the way, he covered sprint and midget races for ESPN’s famed “Thunder” series, off-road and drag racing and predominantly NASCAR, when he formed a legendary trio with Bennie Parsons and Ned Jarrett.
But being from Indianapolis, Jenkins’ heart has always been with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indy 500.
“Open-wheel has always been my thing,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to work at Indy in some capacity, either in radio or public address. I haven’t missed a 500 since 1966. Fortunately, I was able to end my career (as a TV commentator) with what was then Versus, which is now NBCSN, doing my favorite kind of motorsports.”
Now officially retired, Jenkins still works on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address team for the Indy 500 and NASCAR Brickyard 400. Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager at World Wide Technology Raceway, is keenly aware of Jenkins’ legacy and the affinity race fans have for him, so he asked Jenkins to join the WWTR p.a. team this year.
“Since St. Louis is relatively close and it’s an interesting racetrack, I said sure,” Jenkins recalled. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s always been a fun racetrack and they do a lot of promotion and have a great crowd. I’m really excited about helping them out.”
Jenkins still follows the NTT IndyCar Series closely, but admitted he’ll be studying up on the other series racing this weekend to become familiar with the drivers and teams. He’ll lean on others on the PA team for their expertise as well. And he’s excited for the opportunity.
“I love the shape of the track and that it’s different,” he said of Gateway. “I think it’s going to be fun weekend.”
Thursday, August 22 – Free fanfest at Ballpark Village; Racing Night at Busch Stadium
4:30-6:30 p.m. – Free fanfest at Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis across from Busch Stadium. Meet-and-greet with INDYCAR Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000 and NASCAR K&N Pro Series drivers, show cars, games, prizes.
Fanfest driver autograph sessions:
4:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. — NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & West drivers.
5:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. — Indy Lights and Indy Pro 2000 drivers.
5:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. — NTT IndyCar Series drivers.
6:45 p.m. – Racing Night at Busch Stadium – St. Louis Cardinals vs. Colorado Rockies. Josef Newgarden, 2017 INDYCAR champion, will throw out the first pitch. Fans who purchase their game tickets at www.Cardinals.com/theme will receive a Harrison Bader race car bobblehead.
Friday, August 23 – Coors Light Pole Night Showdown
10 a.m. – Parking lots open.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. – James Hinchcliffe Red Cross Blood Drive (bloodmobile near drag strip tower).
11:30 a.m. – Spectator gates open; Paddock pass upgrades open.
1-2 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice.
2:15-2:45 p.m. – Indy Pro 2000 practice.
3-3:45 p.m. – Indy Lights practice.
4-5 p.m. – Vintage Indy Registry exhibition.
5:15-6:15 p.m. – Coors Light Pole Night NTT IndyCar Series qualifying.
6:30-7:15 p.m. – Indy Pro 2000 qualifying.
7:30-8 p.m. – Indy Lights qualifying.
8:15-9:15 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series final practice.
10:30 p.m. – Track closed.
Saturday, August 24 – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline race day
10 a.m. – Parking lots open.
11:30 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Vintage Indy Registry exhibition.
12:45-2:15 p.m. – Vintage Indy Registry Open Wheel Icons garage party and autograph session.
12:30-1:30 p.m. – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & West qualifying.
1:45 p.m. – Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires (55 laps).
2-6 p.m. – Rumble Before the Roar presented by Southern Comfort pre-race party.
2 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series paddock opens.
2:40 p.m. – Vintage Indy Registry final exhibition.
3-4 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series driver autograph session.
3:25 p.m. – Indy Lights race (75 laps).
4:35 p.m. – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & West Monaco 125 presented by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
6:15 p.m. – Parade laps.
6:30 p.m. – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 pre-race show.
7 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline.
Schedules subject to change.
To purchase tickets or obtain more information about WWTR, please call (618) 215-8888. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
About World Wide Technology Raceway
World Wide Technology Raceway is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. World Wide Technology Raceway’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, recently-expanded 2.0-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. World Wide Technology Raceway was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association. In 2018, owner and CEO Curtis Francois received the Innovator Award from the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission in recognition of his work for restoring World Wide Technology Raceway (known then as Gateway Motorsports Park) to prominence.