Jeff Horton (with Dr Trammel)
Jeff, currently refered to as Chandlers’ Dad, has been involved in open wheel since graduating from college in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Joining GM Motorsports Jeff worked on many of the in-house engine programs including the Chevy Indy, Buick Indy, Buick Indy Lights, and Chevrolet desert truck program. After leaving GM Jeff spent several years with Ilmor Engineering working on the Mercedes IC108 Indy Car program. Joining Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) in 1999 as VP of Electronics systems Jeff oversaw the creation of the CART timing and scoring program, pop off valve program, engine electronics policing program, and the crash box program. In 2002 Jeff joined Indycar as Director of engineering. Working closely with Dr. Henry Bock, Dr. Terry Trammell and Delphi Motorsports the Indy Car crash box and ear sensor programs evolved and has become the standard in the industry for collecting at the track crash data. In 2009 Jeff was awarded the Borg Warner Louis Schwitzer award at the Indianapolis 500 for development of the head and neck restraint extension. Using crash data collected at the track Jeff and Dr. Trammell developed a seating, headrest and interior cockpit system to improve driver safety in an open cockpit race car. This design was implemented into the 2012 Dallara Indy Car chassis and the 2015 Indy Lights chassis. Jeff has continued to work on driver safety with projects including additional frontal protection, Steering damper, a second-generation crash box, and a two stage headrest design.
Jeff has been at the front of the new windscreen development. Test so far have been positive with a couple new tweaks being done to make it the best possible protection for the drivers. Some other safety improvements are in the works.
During his long career over the air waves he became the most recognizable and respected broadcaster in Motor Sports.
Bob was one of the original cornerstone anchors on ESPN when it debuted in 1979, working there as one of the most senior members of the network until 2003. Despite his status, he rarely, if ever, visited the Bristol, Connecticut studios. Nearly all of his work with the network was at the track, or at satellite studios in Indianapolis or Charlotte.
His primary duty was anchoring NASCAR on ESPN from 1979 to 2000. His first booth partner was Larry Nuber. Later, he was teamed with Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons. The trio was one of the most popular announcing crews in NASCAR. By the early 1990s, the crew (sans Jarrett, who was contracted with CBS) would also cover races on ABC Sports. During the 1980s, Jenkins also occasionally called CART races on ESPN, prior to the arrival of veteran Paul Page.
Jenkins hosted the weekly racing magazine show SpeedWeek during most of his tenure at ESPN. Jenkins was the television announcer of the Brickyard 400 on ABC from 1994 to 2000.
Concurrent to his work on ESPN & ABC, from 1979 to 1998, Jenkins worked on the IMS Radio Network. He reported various positions, including the backstretch, turn four, and served as chief announcer of the Indy 500 from 1990 to 1998.
By 1999, Jenkins quit the radio crew to focus on television full-time. The ongoing IRL/CART split forced changes in the announcing crews at ESPN/ABC. In addition, ESPN/ABC would be losing NASCAR rights at the end of the season. Paul Page was assigned to the CART series broadcasts, and Jenkins was moved exclusively to the chief announcing position of the IRL and Indianapolis 500 broadcasts. The arrangement would continue through 2001.
For 2002, with CART floundering, Page was moved back to the IRL, and Jenkins was shifted to the lesser host position. The arrangement created a “crowded” booth with two veteran announcers. In 2003, on Bump Day at the Indy 500 on ESPN, Jenkins made an impassioned commentary, defending the event from media detractors. Many were ridiculing the race and the IRL for struggling to fill the field to the traditional 33 cars.
At the end of the 2003 season, Jenkins was released from ABC/ESPN.
In 2009, the IndyCar Series started a new television contract with Versus. Jenkins was signed as the chief announcer, and returned to Indy racing full-time for the first time since 2001. He opted out of reprising his turn two role on the radio network, because Versus was hosting a post-race show, and Jenkins would not have time to arrive at the studio in time. Jenkins, however, recorded segments for air on the radio broadcast, as all three living “Voices of the 500” (Page, Jenkins, and King) participated in the broadcast. Jenkins worked for Versus in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011, Versus was bought by NBC Sports Group, becoming NBCSN. NBC inherited the IndyCar rights and hired Jenkins to continue as lead announcer for IndyCar on NBC. During the month of May, and on race day at the Indianapolis 500, he continued his part-time work on the public address announcing team, a gig that continues for the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard and the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. Jenkins was involved in NBCSN’s wraparound coverage of the week of the 500. He announced on 2012 Indianapolis 500 Carb Day airing on May 25, 2012, that he would retire from broadcasting after the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships in Fontana, California, in September. Jenkins announced the retirement as a result of his wife Pam, who had terminal brain cancer and died shortly after the season ended.
For 2013, he worked in public address system at both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the United States Auto Club’s Silver Crown Series, Jenkins also returned to NBC in a reserve role at the Indianapolis 500 during Carburetion Day coverage and race day coverage, including final practice, the pit stop contest, and the Firestone Freedom 100. This will be as a substitute for Leigh Diffey, his successor on IndyCar telecasts, who is unavailable that weekend. Jenkins will be available in a reserve role should Diffey be unavailable for other races, alongside Rick Allen, the current lead broadcaster for NBC’s NASCAR coverage.
Jenkins, still at the Speedway for the public address system, has also narrated some vingettes for NBC’s NASCAR coverage on both weekday programs and race weekends.
Bob was, and maybe still is, the most familiar voice and face on televised racing. He is also recovering from hip replacement surgery.
See you at McGilvery’s in Speedway...