Longtime racing announcer Bob Jenkins, a former radio voice of the Indianapolis 500 whose career spanned more than five decades on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, died Monday at the age of 73, Indianapolis Motor Speedway said in a statement.
Jenkins revealed in February that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and planned to scale back his work at the speedway as he underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
Jenkins, who survived colon cancer in the 1980s, retired from broadcasting at the end of the 2012 IndyCar season to care for his wife, Pam, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer. He returned to the television booth briefly in 2013 after she died, and had most recently worked as one of the speedway’s primary public address announcers.
Jenkins joined the IMS Radio Network in 1979 and quickly became popular with his booming, baritone voice and easygoing style.
“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.
“But through all the successes, Bob never changed from what he truly was at heart — a race fan. His humility and ability to always remain a fan — even when he was the top racing commentator in the sport — is why race fans around the world loved watching or listening to a race called by Bob Jenkins. He was one of us!”