BIOS for NASCAR Media people
NOTE - Many color commentators are past drivers or crew chiefs. Where this applies is notated with a ##
STEVE LETART ##- 5/14/1979 - a former NASCAR crew chief. Born in Cornish, Maine, he is currently employed at NBC Sports as a color analyst on their telecasts for NASCAR. He left Hendrick Motorsports following the 2014 season after 20 years with the team. From September 2005 – November 2010 he was Jeff Gordon's crew chief after taking over the No. 24 Chevrolet from Robbie Loomis. From February 2011 – November 2014 he was Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s crew chief. Letarte began working for Hendrick Motorsports part-time in 1995. In 1996, at the age of 16, he joined the group full-time. From 1997 to 1999, he worked as a tire specialist for Jeff Gordon's #24 team. He then became a mechanic and finally car chief in 2002. In Letarte's sixth race as crew chief with Gordon, he visited victory lane for the first time in October 2005, winning the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway. On January 9, 2014, it was announced that Letarte would leave Hendrick Motorsports after the 2014 season to become an analyst for NBC Sports. His first race was the 2015 Coke Zero 400 won by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Letart joined fellow Analyst Jeff Burton announcer Rick Allen in the booth, calling the race action. The trio still are in the booth as 2018 appraoches. At 36, he began the next phase of a career that keeps him in racing. "My last job my responsibility was so broad, man it never
seemed to end," Letarte told USA TODAY Sports. "Now, I can unplug pretty well. The great crew chiefs never turn off, that's the best and worst part of the job." Letarte is no stranger to a microphone, having done occasional radio and television work in addition to his crew chief's duties. NBC Executive Porducer Sam Flood said the idea of hiring Letarte as an analyst came from listening to the crew chief's guest spots on SiriusXM satellite radio, which "made me aware how important it was to try and add him to this group," “I’ve always been impressed with Steve Letarte’s interviews, and feel smarter after hearing him break down the crucial elements of each race,” said Flood. “It wasn’t long into our first meeting about this potential role on our broadcast team when I realized that Steve is going to be ‘Must See TV.’”
JAMIE LITTLE - 4/9/1978 - an American pit reporter for NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series coverage on ESPN/ABC. Little is a former pit reporter for ESPN/ABC coverage of the Indy Racing League, although she returned to her pit reporting duty for the 2007 and 2008 Indianapolis 500 as well as the 2013 Firestone 550. Little joined ESPN in 1998 and covered both the Winter and Summer X Games. She is well known among the motocross and extreme sports community for being a pit report on ESPN's Motoworld program. Little won the 2008 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, edging out NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Skinner by 0.324 seconds. On September 25, 2014, it was announced that Little would move to FOX Sports beginning in January 2015 to serve as a NASCAR pit reporter for Monster Energy Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series races..
JIM MCKAY - 9/24/1921 - 6/7/2008 - James Kenneth McManus better known by his professional name of Jim McKay, was an American television sports journalist. McKay is best known for hosting ABC's Wide World of Sports (1961–1998). His introduction for that program has passed into American pop culture. He is also known for television coverage of 12 Olympic Games, and is universally respected for his memorable reporting on the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. McKay covered a wide variety of special events, including horse races such as the Kentucky Derby, golf events such as the British Open, and the Indianapolis 500. McKay's son, Sean McManus, a protégé of Roone Arledge, is president of CBS Sports and News divisions. McKay was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; At the age of 14 his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he attended Loyola Blakefield high school. He received a bachelor's degree from Loyola College in Maryland in 1943. During World War II, he served in the United States Navy as the captain of a minesweeper. In 1947, McKay gave up his job as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun newspapers to join that same organization's new TV station WMAR-TV. His was the first voice ever heard on television in Baltimore,
and he remained with the station until joining CBS in New York in 1950 as host of a variety show, called The Real McKay, which necessitated the changing of his on-air surname. Through the 1950s, sports commentary became more and more his primary assignment for CBS. In 1956-57 McKay teamed with Chris Schenkel to call CBS telecasts of New York Giants football. He moved on to ABC and was the host of ABC's influential Wide World of Sports for 37 years. McKay was known to motor racing fans as the host of the ABC's annual delayed telecast of the Indianapolis 500. At times McKay worked with race drivers in commentary including triple Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart, triple Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser, and Sam Posey. McKay died on June 7, 2008, from natural causes at the age of 86.
LARRY MCREYNOLDS ## - 1/10/1959 - had great success as a NASCAR crew chief. leading Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt to victories in the Daytona 500. At the end of the 2000 season, McReynolds left the Richard Childress-owned #31 Lowe's Chevrolet and ventured into the Fox Sports broadcast booth with Mike Joy and three time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip. The three have worked together since the 2001 season, serving as commentators for many Sprint Cup (2001–present) and Busch Series (2001-2006) races. He was a roving reporter for the six Sprint Cup races on TNT during the 2007–11 Cup seasons. From 2012 to 2014 he worked as a co-host (along with Kyle Petty and Adam Alexander) for the pre-race segments on TNT. McReynolds has worked as the host of NASCAR Performance and as a co-host
on NASCAR Trackside. He currently serves as a co-host on NASCAR RaceDay. as 2015 kicks off McReynolds remains in the FOX broadcast booth alongside long time partners Darrell Waltrip and Mike Joy.
CHRIS MYERS - 3/28/1959 - is an American sportscaster. A native of Miami, FL with more than 20 years in broadcasting, Chris Myers has covered premiere events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, NCAA Final Four, The Masters and U.S. Open (golf), Triple Crown, the Olympics and the Daytona 500. Prior to joining FSN, Myers spent ten years at ESPN hosting SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, and other various shows including the interview program Up Close, where Myers was honored as one of TV's best interviewers. He also received an Emmy for his work. Myers earned acclaim for his live reporting during the San Francisco Earthquake that took place during the world series. Myers was also the only on scene reporter who stayed on the air through the night broadcasting from Atlanta during the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. In December 1998, Myers joined Fox Sports Net, where he was one of the original anchors of The National Sports Report. Myers has been the studio host for NASCAR coverage on Fox since they began coverage in 2001. He's also an announcer for NFL games, and a reporter for the NFL on Fox and Major League Baseball on Fox. My ers was also a reporter for Bowl Championship Series coverage on Fox. On February 16, 2012, Myers' 19 year old son, Christopher, died in a car crash. The accident
took place in Thousand Oaks near the Myers' residence. While on bereavement leave, John Roberts took over for him for NASCAR on Fox coverage of the Budweiser Shootout and the 2012 Daytona 500. Myers currently hosts NASCAR FOX/FS1 with Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip pre-race and post race shows. He also continues his NFL play by play on FOX with Daryl "Moose" Johnston.
BENNY PARSONS ## - 7/12/1941 - 1/16/2007 - After the end of the Second World War Benny moved to Detroit, Michigan with his family where his father operated a gas station and a taxicab business. Before becoming a race car driver he worked for his father, driving taxis or working in the service station. Parsons had a successful NASCAR career, even earning the 1973 CUP Championship. He is also responsible for convincing Harry Melling to give a young kid from Dawonsville GA (Bill Elliott) a chance to drive one of Mellings quality rides. Parsons began announcing as a pit reporter in the 1980s on ESPN and TBS while he was still racing part-time. After permanently retiring from racing in 1988, Parsons became a broadcaster – first on ESPN, and then with NBC and TNT in 2001. He received an ESPN Emmy in 1996, and the ACE Award in 1989. Parsons co-hosted coverage of Winston Cup Qualifying on North Carolina radio station WFMX with Mark Garrow in the early '90s. He continued to co-host a radio program called "Fast Talk" on Performance Racing Network (PRN) with Doug Rice until his death. Parsons began having trouble breathing in the summer of 2006. He was diagnosed with lung cancer. He announced later that the treatment had been successful, and that he had a clean bill of health. Parsons had stopped smoking in 1978. His health prevented him from attending a ceremony in November 2006 where he was to be presented with the Myers Brothers Award, honoring his contributions to racing. On December 26, 2006, Parsons was readmitted to the hospital and placed in intensive care because of complications relating to lung cancer. On January 16, 2007, Parsons died of complications from lung cancer treatment in the intensive care unit of the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
JERRY PUNCH - 8/20/1953 - an American auto racing and college football commentator on ESPN, as well as a physician. Punch worked as an Emergency medicine physician at Bunnell Community Hospital before moving to ESPN in 1984 as a pit reporter for NASCAR races. While working at ESPN Punch also moonlighted at TBS and SETN doing pit reporting, as he was the first to report on the injuries to driver Terry Schoonover during the 1984 Atlanta Journal 500 for the network's race coverage. In 1988, in two separate incidents, he helped with the rescue efforts after the serious wrecks of Rusty Wallace and Don Marmor. In the case of Rusty Wallace's front-stretch crash at Bristol Motor Speedway, Punch happened to be on Pit Road at the time, and as a result, was the first person on the scene before the rescue crew could be scrambled. Punch's medical training proved pivotal, as Wallace was initially unconscious following this practice-session crash. Punch revived Wallace. Punch is also credited with helping to save Ernie Irvan following a practice crash at Michigan International Speedway in August 1994. Punch also had aided injured pit crew members on pit road in several races in the 1990s. While Punch was addressing a Nashville Super speedway media luncheon he was interrupted by a loud crash from the back of the room. Punch
immediately rushed from the podium to the back of the room where Jenny Gill (daughter of singer/musician, Vince Gill), a Nashville Super speedway intern, had fainted. Punch helped revive the Middle Tennessee State graduate student. She was taken to a local care center for observation and soon recovered, according to Sean Dozier, the Super speedway's public relations director. Punch returned to the podium and resumed his speech. On October 12, 2006, he was named the lead lap-by-lap commentator for ESPN's coverage of the Sprint Cup Series and the Xfinity Series starting in 2007 along with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree. Punch and Petree were joined by Dale Jarrett in 2008 and stayed together until the end of the 2009 season; ESPN replaced Punch with Marty Reid for 2010 and returned him to pit road. In addition to his pit reporter roles, Punch served as the lead play-by-play voice for ESPN's coverage of the Craftsman Truck Series until the network lost that contract to SPEED following the 2002 season.
MARTY REID - 2/3/1953 - an American television sportscaster who worked for ESPN from 1982 through 2013, covering motor sports for the network. Reid had been the network's Indy Car Series lead commentator and also called select NASCAR Xfinity Series races for the network and the Indianapolis 500 for ABC. Reid is the only person to do television play-by-play for all five major North American motor sports series, NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, Trucks, Indy Car, and NHRA Drag Racing. Reid was the lead television announcer for the NHRA on ESPN from 2001 through the 2006 season, when he took over for Todd Harris as lead Indy Car voice, and held the same position for ESPN's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events from 1998 through 2000. Reid began his career at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio in 1975. Among his duties were anchoring Ohio State University hockey telecasts and Columbus Clippers telecasts. He started Marty Reid Enterprises, a video production company, in 1988. He formed the short course off-road racing series Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) in 1997 and sold it in 2005 to Jim Baldwin. On September 29, 2013, Reid was fired from ESPN after accidentally calling Ryan Blaney's Xfinity Series win in the Kentucky 300 too early by one lap. Reid was replaced by Allen Bestwick.
MARTY SNIDER - 7/15/1969 - is an American sportscaster, currently working for NBC Sports and Turner Sports. On air, Snider is known for his jovial nature and has been critically acclaimed for his interviewing skills. From 1994–1997, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for ESPN's NASCAR Today. Snider was CNNSI's NASCAR reporter from 1998–2002, filing regular reports from every NASCAR event. From 1995–2000, Snider worked as a pit reporter for the Motor Racing Network's (MRN) NASCAR radio broadcasts. Snider served as a pit reporter for NASCAR on NBC from 1999–2006. In 2008, Snider joined the NBC Olympic team in Beijing, China as a reporter for their coverage of Cycling and triathlon, BMX, canoe slalom, softball and also the closing ceremony. Snider also served as sideline reporter for CBS Sports for their SEC on CBS college football coverage. Snider also served for years as a sideline reporter for the NCAA Tournament for both CBS Sports and Turner Sports.
KEN SQUIER - 4/10/1935 - an American sportscaster and motorsports editor from Waterbury, Vermont. From 1979-1997, he was the lap-by-lap commentator for NASCAR on CBS, and was also a lap-by-lap commentator for TBS from the time they had rights to NASCAR until 2000. Squier was the first announcer to give lap-by-lap commentary on the Daytona 500 in 1979. He coined the term "The Great American Race" for the Daytona 500, and developed the in-car camera for the 1982 Daytona 500. Squier's father Lloyd owned and operated WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont and Ken began his on-air work at age 12 (When Lloyd Squier died in 1979, Ken Squier inherited the station and remains its principal owner and CEO). Squier's racing announcing career began when he announced a stockcar race from the back of an old logging truck at a tiny dirt track in Vermont at age 14. In 1960 he opened Thunder Road International SpeedBowl, the Barre, Vermont quarter-mile oval which he still owns. Squier co-founded Motor Racing Network in 1969. He announced races on the network for several years before moving to television
in the later 1970s. Squier was a pit reporter for the very first live "flag-to-flag" coverage of the Greenville 200 on ABC in 1971. Squier joined CBS Sports in 1972. Squier believed that people would watch the entire 200-lap Daytona 500. "It was a tough sell," Squier said. "There was a general feeling that this was more of a novelty thing and that it wouldn't work on a national level." On February 18, 1979; CBS aired "The Great American Race" flag-to-flag. Television ratings were high, in part because a major snowstorm on the East Coast kept millions of viewers indoors. Richard Petty won the race, but the fight between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough made headlines throughout the United States. For the next 20 years, beginning in 1981, various TV stations would get NASCAR coverage on various tracks: CBS, TBS, TNN, ESPN, ABC, and NBC. Squier would work for CBS and TBS over this time frame, covering half of the Winston Million races: Squier stopped lap-by-lap announcing in 1997, and was replaced in the booth by Mike Joy. Squier had announced every Daytona 500 from 1979 to 1997. Squier became the studio host, where he remained until 2000. Squier was also present in the Fox Sports studio during pre-race and post-race coverage of Daytona Speedweeks and the 2001 Daytona 500 and, the first-ever regular season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event televised by Fox. On July 13, 2014, NASCAR on TNT broadcast its final race at the Camping World RV Sales 301. After the Pre-race show was complete, Squier said goodbye to NASCAR on TNT in this speech: "Hello Everyone, I'm Ken Squier. And as the engines have fired at New Hampshire, I remind you that this is the final NASCAR broadcast for Turner Sports. I was the play-by-play announcer for TBS for 18 years. Beginning in the very first year of NASCAR coverage, 1983. It's been a real honor to be a part of today's broadcast, and I wish my colleague's the very best today on TNT. As this amazing, 32 year run, comes to a close. I hope you enjoy today's race." Squier had a unique broadcasting style, he often described NASCAR drivers in his era as "common men doing uncommon things" and describing wrecks as "side over side, end over end" for flips and for calling wrecked racecars with the phrase "all torn up". A battle for position involving a large pack of cars would periodically be referred to as "an Oklahoma land rush." He was also known for the ability to switch between the "radio" style of broadcasting and "TV" styles. One of the biggest examples was the 1981 Talladega 500 when video went out and only the audio remained and he called the final laps when Ron Bouchard won. Squier also announced CBS Sports' occasional CART IndyCar broadcasts in the 1990s as well as hosting the 1982 Individual Speedway World Championship from the Los Angeles Coliseum alongside four time Speedway World Champion Barry Briggs of New Zealand and pit reporter Dave Despain. He has also announced in a wide range of sports outside of auto racing, including ice skating, golf, and tennis.
WENDY VENTURINI – 1/30/1979 - is a reporter for Speed's pre-race show, NASCAR RaceDay. Along with her pre-race interviews around the garage, Wendy is also featured in a segment of the show called "The Real Deal" where she goes one on one with a driver, crew chief or car owner. She is also a pit reporter for selected races on the Performance Racing Network. Previously, she was a pit reporter in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Venturini is a 2000 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2007, Wendy was one of the commentators for DirecTV's NASCAR Hot Pass coverage. With that on her résumé, Wendy is the first female play-by-play announcer in auto racing history. She is the daughter of two-time ARCA Champion Bill Venturini.
KRISTA VODA - 5/31/1974 - an American sportscaster who covers auto racing. Voda was a pit reporter for NASCAR on Fox and was the host of The Setup, the pre-race show for coverage of the Camping World Truck Series, as well as Trackside on Fox Sports 1 (formerly Speed Channel). She also was a fill-in sideline reporter for the NFL on Fox. Voda was born and raised in Clinton, Iowa and attended the University of Northern Iowa. In high school, she lettered in volleyball, basketball, and track and field. Voda began as a NASCAR broadcaster in 2003 as co-anchor of Totally NASCAR on Fox Sports Net. She was also co-host on NASCAR Nation when that show aired on Speed Channel. Before moving to FSN, she worked for various local television stations in Iowa and Kentucky, including WLEX, the NBC affiliate in Lexington. In addition to NASCAR, she has covered college football, the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, the Kentucky Derby, the World Series, the PGA Championship, and the National Football League. On October 29, 2014, Voda was announced to be the pre- and post-race host for NBC Sports' NASCAR coverage, which includes hosting NASCAR America on NBCSN.
DARRELL WALTRIP ## - 2/5/1947 - after a successful career in the NASCAR series and being a NASCAR Champion in 1981, 1982, & 1985. After his 2000 retirement, Waltrip signed with Fox, to be lead NASCAR analyst and race commentator on the network's NASCAR telecasts, teaming with Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds. Waltrip had previously appeared on several IROC broadcasts for ABC, prior to his signing during the 1999, and 2000 seasons. Waltrip began his career with Fox, in the 2001 Daytona 500, the first race of 2001. His younger brother, Michael Waltrip, won the race, but Michael's victory was overshadowed by the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt and Waltrip were bitter rivals on the track during the 1980s. Earnhardt envied Waltrip's status as NASCAR's top driver. But, as the year's passed, the rivalry and bitterness gave way to a deep respect and close friendship between the two. On the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, Waltrip's joy at his brother's victory turned to sadness and grief on live national television as Waltrip called the final moments of the race. Earnhardt's car made contact with the car driven by Sterling Marlin. After Earnhardt's car contacted the Marlin car, Earnhardt's car suddenly veered right, and slammed hard into the retaining wall in turn four while simultaneously being contacted by the car driven by Ken Schrader. Earnhardt had died instantly during the crash from a basilar skull fracture. Waltrip later gave the invocation at the Earnhardt funeral and gave the invocation at the following week's race praying for Earnhardt and the
promise of moving on from the tragedy. A week after Daytona, Waltrip interviewed NASCAR President Mike Helton for a pre-race segment during the broadcast at North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham). Waltrip believed that four deaths in the previous ten months, all caused by basilar skull fractures incurred in accidents, were too many, and was not shy about asking Helton for an explanation. As a long-time advocate for motorsports safety, Waltrip then pushed for mandatory head-and-neck restraints, and two weeks later, demonstrated the device during the broadcast at Atlanta Motor Speedway, explaining the benefits and how the device worked. Seven months later, NASCAR mandated the devices after a crash during an ARCA Re/Max Series race, held after qualifying for the UAW-GM Quality 500, killed driver Blaise Alexander. Waltrip also lends his unique verbage to his commentary, speaking of "coop-petetion" when racers work together, but keep each other under a watchful eye, "s'perince" when talking about driving skills of a veteran driver, and "using the chrome horn", when a driver somewhat purposefully bumps a car that's in the way (bumpers on cars used to be made of metal and coated in chrome). In early 2007, Waltrip was nominated for an Emmy in the category "Outstanding Event Analyst". In March, 2011, FOX awarded Waltrip a 2-year contract extension, taking him through 2014, the same year the network’s NASCAR contract ends (although the broadcast contract has been extended to 2024).
MATT YOCUM - 4/8/1968 - is a long standing reporter in motorsports. He is best known for his pit reporting in the sport of NASCAR. Matt Yocum's exposure to automobile racing began at an early age. This was due, at least in part, to the fact that his mother has been involved in automobile racing for over 35 years owning her own sponsor services and motorsports management company. In high school and college Yocum began working for the International Race of Champions (IROC) as a tire specialist and eventually moved on to racecar preparation and maintenance. In 1995, he joined TNN (The Nashville Network) as a pit reporter and Motorsports Bureau reporter. He also appeared on the network’s racing magazine show, “Raceday”. From 1995 through 1998 Yocum covered an array of motorsports events on TNN, including NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch Grand National, Craftsman Trucks, Busch Grand National North, ARCA, as well as other series. During the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Yocum’s talent for motorsports reporting was put to use working for ESPN in a number ways including televised reporting for SportsCenter, RPM2night, and NASCAR2Day and as a radio broadcaster for RPMnow radio and ESPN radio. He also wrote a regular column for ESPN.com. In 2001 Yocum joined the Turner Sports team as the first NASCAR reporter scheduled to cover every Cup series race telecast on TNT, Fox, and NBC and
the only broadcaster to work for both Fox and NBC at the same time. In 2007, three time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart welcomed Mr. Yocum as co-host of his two hour weekly radio show. The show was titled "Tony Stewart Live" and broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio. The show was primarily a commentary on current events in NASCAR as well as a listener call in show. The show ran from 2007 through 2008. Yocum continues to work in the NASCAR community primarily reporting from the pits at all of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
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