No Need To Apologize, Bob

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Earlier this week, I had lunch with a friend of mine who is one of the few die-hard IndyCar fans here in Nashville. After we got back from lunch, he asked me if I had seen the Bob Jenkins apology on Track Forum.com. I reminded him that I don’t even have an account at Track Forum and I didn’t know what he was talking about. He pulled it up and showed it to me. I had to just shake my head.

For those that have not heard, Bob Jenkins felt compelled to atone for what he termed a sub-par performance on the Versus telecast of the São Paulo Indy 300. He curiously chose Track Forum as the place to issue his apology. Before all the Track Forum fans start blasting me for ripping their site, even though I don’t have an account there doesn’t mean I haven’t been to their site. It’s just that after reading all of the bile that is spewed on there, I always feel the need to shower afterwards. Consequently, I never saw the need to become a regular among the legions of the miserable…but I digress.

Back to Bob Jenkins; I don’t know why he felt the need to explain anything. Perhaps some of the fanatics were tearing him to shreds for lack of anything better to do. Other than mistakenly using the word “brassiere” for Brazil, I didn’t notice any major gaffes. I wouldn’t say it was the best race I ever heard anyone call, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. That honor will probably always be held by Todd Harris. One of the best things to say about Jenkins is that he never gets in the way of the broadcast. He does his job, stays out of the way and allows the action on the track to be the star of the show.

The job of a broadcaster is much harder than it looks. I’ve never done it, but I’ve talked to some that have. There are different voices yelling from all directions in your ear. You have to be aware of so much going on; which pit reporter to go to next, when the next commercial window is coming up, when to expect the next round of pit stops along with the x-factor of the unexpected crashes and yellows.

All the while, you are expected to juggle all of that and still relay the happenings to the viewer in a smooth and seemingly effortless delivery. Added to all of that was the fact that Bob and his partners in the booth were thousands of miles away from the action, watching pretty much the same feed as we were. It’s a tough job that goes unappreciated these days because so many of them do it so well. Included in that list is Bob Jenkins.

If you want to get a taste of what bad announcing is – spend an evening at ESPN-U. That is where promising broadcasting careers go to die. It is a combination of a few never-were’s along with a handful of never-will-be’s. Some of these Track Forum loons need to go over there and sample their wares for a couple of hours, before crucifying Bob Jenkins for no reason.

To me, the voice of Bob Jenkins simply resonates “Auto Racing”. A native Hoosier, he was one of the original broadcasters on the fledgling ESPN when it was launched in 1979. He served as the lead anchor for what I thought was a great NASCAR team – Jenkins, Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons. Along with becoming the Voice of the 500 on the IMS Radio Network from 1990 to 1998, Jenkins also hosted Speedweek, which was about the only way a motorsports junkie could get their fix in the days before the internet. In the early stages of my adult life, Bob Jenkins was THE television broadcast voice of racing.

He is now 62 years old – an age that was ancient when I was in my twenties. Now, it just means he’s experienced. He still has a good voice, his delivery is strong and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in broadcast circles that carry around as much racing knowledge in their cranium as Bob does.

Most know that one of my favorite blog sites is The Silent Pagoda. If that derelict Hobbson can keep himself sober enough to hit a keyboard, he writes great stuff. In fact, if I were to be assured that he wasn’t reading this, I would apply the word “genius” to his sense of humor. And his articles are just slightly funnier than his loyal followers who comment regularly.

However, the other day he had a reader comment in the midst of all the craziness that goes on over there, that just sort of killed the party. This lone curmudgeon went off on a tirade about Bob Jenkins that was so off base I almost thought there was a punch line to follow. There wasn’t. I won’t dignify the comments by repeating them, but they were unfounded, untrue and completely uncalled for.

For my taste, it’s a toss-up between Paul Page and Bob Jenkins as to who I would rather listen to. On the NASCAR side, I’ll give a tip of the hat to Mike Joy. He does a solid job, considering the clowns he has to work with. On the F1 side, I’ll give credit to Bob Varsha who fits nicely in this small mix as well.

Bob Jenkins is an iconic figure in this sport. For all of those who complained about Bob, behind the anonymity and safety of a keyboard – I never read any suggestions of who out there might do a better job. Perhaps they were delusional enough to think that they themselves could. And for those that will bring up my previous comments about IMS broadcaster Mike King – we’re not even talking in the same league

I firmly believe that Mr. Jenkins should apologize to no one. He has paid his dues in this sport, many times over. Should he stumble once or twice on a broadcast – so what? It happens. It’s live TV. I’ve heard my share of blunders from Jim Nance, Bob Costas and Al Michaels – and I don’t hear people calling for their heads. No…Bob Jenkins has reached a point where he has earned everything he has gotten. In fact, I think it’s an insult that a talent like his is relegated to a niche-sport network. Versus is lucky to have him and they seem to know and appreciate it. Some of the more miserable fans of the sport should take note.

George Phillips

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44 Responses to “No Need To Apologize, Bob”

  1. imjustsayingisall Says:

    I think that you are absolutely right George.
    There is no one like Bob Jenkins out there today.
    He is one of very few if any, doing live race broadcast that possess not only great historical knowledge and understanding of the sport and its participants, but that also have a genuine love of the human side of this sport, this love and his personal warmth always come through on race day….
    That warmth for the human side of things is not something that can be taught in broadcast, or journalism class, you either have it or you do not…. Versus and all of us are lucky that there are still guys like Bob around…

  2. Bob’s big gaffe of the day, the one that probably prompted the apology, came while Simona Desilvesto was in the lead and he referred to her as the Defending Atlantics champion. While in spirit this is probably true, factually it wasn’t. It’s a small thing but in the situation Sunday, it is probably easier to be self critical. When you are calling the race from a tv screen and sound stage as opposed to a press box with the cars whizzing by and ethanol fumes in the air, I would have to imagine that you are somewhat less invested in the moment with more time to think about how you wish you had said things differently 35 seconds earlier.

  3. Here! Here! Bob doesn’t need to apologize to anyone, least of all the knuckle heads and haters over at Trackforum.

    I’d even add that the pairing of Jenkins with Jon and Robbie has added some entertaining chemistry in the booth. Even during the halftime show, er… rain delay, I was entertained.

    Jenkins is one of the best in the business. May he continue calling races for a very long time.

  4. Jenkins is one of the main reasons for VS channel’s coverage excellence.

  5. Nice article. I’m right there with you. Bob Jenkins is a great announcer and a great guy. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that he has a difficult job, particularly from a studio not on site. I do think that the announcers should be at the track. I don’t know why they didn’t for this race and I know that they are never there for Japan, but I wish they would be there. There is something about being there in person that I think allows the broadcasters to be more focused, involved, and spirited. Keep up the good work Mr Jenkins. I think most everyone is behind you!

    • I think that’s just a simple dollars thing. The broadcaster probably figures that the booth guys can be 75-80% as effective as normal when they operate from the studio for the international races, while cutting the crew’s transportation and lodging costs by over 90% for the weekend (assuming that they maybe have to fly somewhere to get to the studio). Domestic travel is relatively cheap, so that’s why they send the entire crew to all of the American and Canadian races, so it’s worth it to get the crew up to 100% effectiveness with them at the track.

      This studio thing is something that SpeedTV has done for years with the F1 guys, but years and years of practice (plus having their one guy on location on pitlane) at it allow them to cover up pretty well. Versus just doesn’t have the reps at doing the remote broadcast, though they’ll probably never get the proper reps with just two international races. That’s fine. I think we can all “suffer” through two broadcasts like Sunday’s every year.

      Bob’s good, and Sunday was no embarrassment, at least in my eyes. He’s got nothing to apologize for. Rusty Wallace, on the other hand…

  6. Many don’t know that Bob was the Speed anchor in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (released August 4, 2006).
    Brazil was a tough race and the Portuguese language is kind of fun to play with-
    Blaming the messenger is always easy.

  7. John McLallen Says:

    When IndyCar announced that Bob Jenkins was their Versus announcer the word “indeed” immediatly came to my mind. There is no other announcer with greater passion for the sport, knowledge as well as fair play that is out there. Spending an afternoon with Bob announcing the race is like spending time with an old friend who is just as into the sport as I am. There is an assured comfort with Bob at the mic that makes the broadcast personal, if that makes sense. Bob is simply the best and I am glad he is in the booth.

    By the way, George, lunch was great.

  8. I think Rusty Wallace and the entire Fox Broadcast team should retire and appologies. As for Jenkins, I really didn’t see a reason why. No error was that significant. DW and friends, on the other hand, make NASCAR broadcast almost unwatchable.

  9. He did make a lot of small errors (calling the wrong car several times, saying Simona was the Atlantics champ, etc.), and I’ll admit I was very annoyed but I do understand it’s the first race of the season and he was not on site. I think it’s nice he appologized, but I don’t see where anyone has the right to call for his head. He’s still a very good play-by-play announcer (or whatever they call it in racing).

  10. tim nothhelfer Says:

    I don’t know Bob, but it almost seems like I do. I enjoy the broadcasts, every one….and it’s not just Bob.
    The only thing I can hang on Bob Jenkins and the whole Versus crew is HOW BAD THE ABC/ESPN COVERAGE IS GOING TO SEEM NOW!?

  11. outtaphase Says:

    Given the difficulties with this broadcast – essentially 3rd party coverage of a racetrack that suffered storms and power outages, I thought it was rather amazing we got what we did. There is always the standard gratuitous broadcaster apology for things like “we apologize for that hot head driver who just F-bombed when he knew this was live”, or “we apologize for the tornado that just took out our studio”. But Jenkins giving a personal apology? Puleeze, this would have been a disaster if a pro like him weren’t there to smoothly deal with the chaos 3000 miles away.

    I did not read the bile on Track Forum as I’ve barely heard of the site, but I reviewed the Pagoda comment. That’s called a “troll” (applies to both the comment and commenter): A generalized personal attack with no (at least coherent) facts or evidence behind it, obviously submitted to generate reactions and receive attention. This is not an attack on the subject as much as it is a childish psychological prank. No need to respond to these, this is the internet, you learn to scroll over as a reader or deal with appropriately as an admin.

  12. Dave Cornutt Says:

    I have to admit that I share your opinion of the current state of disreputation that TF has fallen into. And I used to be a regular over there; in fact, I was one of their first members.

  13. tim nothhelfer Says:

    It will be a sad day if George has to close his comment section down…..
    (Tuesdays and Thursdays are gray already.)

    • Oilpressure Says:

      Thanks, Tim.

      I certainly have no plans to shut the comments section down. There is only one reader that I have deleted some of their comments. You can all probably guess who that is.

      Sorry that I cut back to three times a week. Sometimes, even that is a crunch with my schedule. I stick to Mon-Wed-Fri because if I posted at my whim, it may never get done. During race weekends, I’ll TRY to have an additional post during the weekend. – GP

  14. Attempts at self-aggrandizement make one seem vain, boastful and, ironically, petty.

  15. Ah, MARS, good to see you’ve finally described yourself.

    Now, on to the comment. I agree with what everyone else has said, that Bob Jenkins didn’t need to apologize for anything about last week’s race. Were there mistakes? Yes, but we all make them.

    Bottom line, Versus’ IndyCar coverage is the best since Paul Page, Sam Posey and Bobby Unser ruled the airwaves for ABC back in the day. For further example, contrast next week’s ABC broadcast of the event from St. Petersburg with the Versus coverage. There is no comparison in quality.

  16. Bob Jenkins has paid the price of service. He is also a cancer survivor.

    I have also paid a price for the first Honda Grand Prix in St. Petersburgh where the first race was described as “The Fastest Spring Brake Party,,”,Where Street racing is Legal”….
    Notice the slogan has changed..to “The Fastest Spring Beak Party.”

    Edward, or George-
    What have you had to give for this carnivale’?
    I hate NASCAR, one thing we have in common-
    BUT it is just up the road-
    Loved Mr. Jenkins in Ricky Bobby-just for that-

  17. Also, you tolerate.
    the ex- Mrs. Andretti on this blog-
    and other “distant relatives”-

  18. In any case the next young friend may not get killed before he graduates from high school. but it might be his friend-

    Also would like to say that the “IRL” is far from the dream that was describd to me by a child…..of the “IRL”.

    Mr. Jenkins has seen many changes in the IRL and his failings on the last race is a reflection of that-
    We don’t blame the messenger-“obviously.”

  19. Your skewed poles and oppinions really don’t mean anything BTW-Because you manipulate the data, they are disqualified!

    • You are insane. I haven’t understood a single sentence that you’ve written here in months, much less any of the stuff above in this thread. You’re never going to gain any followers here, because nobody can even understand what you’re talking about, much less follow your “logic” enough to agree with you. Go away. And get counseling.

  20. I know that Mr. Jenkins would agreee that pro-racing is not for children…or their friends.

  21. Mars/Venus, why do you post here?

    • John Mc
      Since Ken R. decided that it was still o.k to be an “A”-rated-race fanatic, even after the events that took place in Orlando, April 02 2005…before the First Honda Grand Prix, in St. Pete… “Fastest Spring Break Party,”…. (where Street Racing was legal”) My 18 yr. old daughter was killed on the highway just before that first racing event, “Vehicular Homicide” -once she put her seat belt on she was at the mercy of a young IRL racing fanatic. The brand new Honda Civic didn’t pass well at 95-100 mph.

      I am just a survivor of the unacknowledged mess that is sometimes left behind on carnivale weekend.

      Back on topic- Mr. Jenkins was awesome in Ricky Bobby, Telladega Nights, get the movie and watch it yourself Speedgeek-you will like it.
      NASCAR at its highest point-

      Have come to appreciate Milka Dunno and Sarah Fisher, Simona also.
      Izod is doing a good job in separating the Sport from the dangerous aspects od SPEED, but the danger remains for the children of the IRL.
      It might not be the fifteen year old in Indy Lights but his best friend and his girl friend-

  22. Troll Attack!!!!!!!!

    • Milka Duno is a fantastic IRL racer!
      Fantastic for the Bpy Scouts of AMerica-Safety First!
      She has 4 Master’s degrees and deserves to be a mentor for young girls, which in Florida at least is protected under the law.

      In Florida, for instance, we have rules about mentors and Public Schools.(The Go-daddy brand would be questionable in our county.)
      The Speed Fetivals in Miami…really not for children etc,

      • I have to ask, are you being sarcastic?

      • Milka Duno is weak and has no business racing with these guys. She is going to get someone hurt or worse. Let her mentor in sports cars.

      • Milka Dunno is dangerous? Really…seems to me that there are others in this league who are really dangerous. Milka Duno already is a mentor-for South American Girls. Maybe she should go to the next level below, as should some other drivers-that might actually be a good thing-for all of the “slow”.
        Maybe you could have “Indy car Special- Olympics for all of those drivers who can’t make the grade-
        Or, if they keep cracking up they could be put in the “ARCA”type race…like the other girls in NASCAR.

  23. rubbergoat Says:

    Great post. Apologies for being a bit of a lurker here, but I am reading your articles and thoroughly enjoying them ;)

    I am primarily an F1 fan that likes most other kinds of top level Motorsport, including IndyCars. We used to have a commentator in F1 who had commentated since the start of the BBC showing the coverage full time (in 1978), was enigmatic, enthusiastic and passionate, yet made tons of mistakes. Sure, some people found him irritating, but in truth we always forgave him because he made F1 fun and enjoyable for all.

    That man is Murray Walker. A true legend of the sport. From what you describe about Bob Jenkins, the man has a similar stature and persona.

    A little off-topic, but after being bored to tears watching the F1 at a track that simply would never have produced a good race no matter what the rules were, I really enjoyed the IndyCar race and was really pleased to see the problems with the track get sorted.

    While I will be watching the F1 no matter what this year, I have the feeling I will be getting the racing and entertainment fix from the IndyCars ;)

    Cheers,

    //RubberGoat

  24. Jenkins is great. The only thing better would be to bring back Paul Page, but it would take a lot of dominos falling correctly for that to happen.

    Todd Harris is awful. As pathetic as he was during the recent Winter Olympics, he was 100 times better there than he was when he did Indy Car races. Terrible doesn’t begin to describe it.

  25. Using sarcasim to point out the lunacy of combining children and racing.. sometimes.
    F1 or Le Mans, doesn’t combine auto-racing and children under 19. The Lemans race in Paris didn’t have a children’s league racing in it-
    I think Mr. Jenkins would agree that the American open-wheel race has changed ALOT…he made some funny comments last race, but in his day only grown-ups raced cars.
    When Go-Daddy is all over the place at the race track, why should Mr. Jenkins apologise?

    • See OILPRESSURE Readers… SADLY (for us), they do allow patients in the Psycho Ward internet access ! :( :( :( Even MORE SAD :?: Ms. Split Personality (Mars & Venus) is bat-$h*t CRAZY in both of her personalities :idea:

      Perhaps you should launch another personality :?: However, I suggest a more appropriate name for the 3rd: URANUS :idea:

      Please, pick another blog & sport to TROLL… you obviously HATE racing & have zero freakin’ knowledge of it & its competitors. Consider it THERAPY (for us & you)

      • Maybe you should change your personality to Asso45.
        What is with the lightbulbs? And speaking of bat-$h*t crazy,
        ASS045 or the “A-1″ A$$ should be on the “A-1″ A$$ payroll…routing for the “A-1″ A$$ team. You are the TROLL BTW.

      • No… unlike your crazy a$$, I have kept ONE name @ oilpressure. Also unlike your retard comments… mine have clear POINTS & make sense to 99.9% of the readers of this blog :idea: Most would also agree yours DO NOT. You are deemed the TROLL & one day we ALL pray you will be seek psychiatric counseling.

        Oh & the :idea: icons…. they represent IDEAS or help morons like you to BUY a CLUE :!: :idea: :idea:

    • Go Daddy is clever and first class all the way. Mark Martin seems to think so, too.

  26. Asso045:
    Very clearly the people in charge of your ammateur and immature point of view don’t need rude people, like yourself, representing their almost recognized sport.

    BTW I pay two sets of property taxes in Florida, where your next racing venue is going to be held, so I will say “WHATEVER’!
    Honestly hope that they separate the children from the adults in this “racing” endeavor soon-

    • You’re too STUPID to own two of anything :!: The rest of your post is your typical mindless rambling that NO ONE here comprehends.

      BTW, the SPELL CHECK feature is a wonderful thing… you might want to USE it sometime. Allows you to be PYSCHO but spell everything correctly (for once)

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