We are saddened by the loss of longtime friend and supporter of the 500 Festival, Bob Jenkins. A lifelong race fan and legendary Indianapolis 500 broadcaster, Bob’s voice became the signature sound of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each May.
Bob passed away at the age of 73 on Monday, August 9, after an 8-month battle with brain cancer. Originally from Liberty, Indiana, Bob’s older brother first told him about the Indy 500. He attended his first qualifications in 1958 and his first Indy 500 just two years later. Until his cancer diagnosis, Bob only missed two races – 1961 and 1965.
Bob joined the IMS Radio Network just before the 1979 Indy 500 race. He then went on to work in television, broadcasting for INDYCAR, NASCAR, ESPN/ABC, and NBC Sports. Bob’s iconic voice also became the “soundtrack” of May as a beloved Indianapolis 500 announcer. He was inducted into the IMS Hall of Fame in 2019.
In conjunction with his love for racing, Bob also proudly supported the 500 Festival. He served on the 500 Festival Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008, assisting to guide the strategic vision of the 500 Festival and representing the organization within the community.
He was also a longtime emcee of the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, as well as a broadcaster for the AES 500 Festival Parade. Bob was honored in the 2016 at both the 500 Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented with his own OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon medal, and at AES 500 Festival Parade, riding in his own official Chevy Camaro Pace Car.
Bob first learned of his cancer diagnosis on Christmas night when he woke up with an excruciating headache. Doctors found two malignant tumors on his right temple. He made the announcement to the racing community in February on IMS’s “Behind the Bricks” YouTube show. Bob shared his gratitude for the racing community saying, “With God’s help and my beloved race fans, I’m going to make it. I don’t have a large family – I have a niece and a nephew – but I consider the first people I should tell is my family, and my family is my race fans.”
We will miss Bob dearly and our thoughts are with Bob’s family, friends, and the entire racing community.