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Bob Jenkins cherishes Indianapolis 500’s arrival as he battles brain cancer

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Bob Jenkins began the week with a bold declaration.

“I don’t know where I am going to be on (Indianapolis 500) race day. I have no idea where I am going to watch the race from, but I will be there,” Jenkins said. 

You see, previously Jenkins was aware he would likely miss his first Indianapolis 500 since 1965.

For four-plus decades, attendance was easy. Jenkins rose into one of motorsports’ premier broadcasters, rising in front of the television alongside NASCAR’s national ascension. The Liberty, Indiana, native never strayed far from home either.

Jenkins is one of the most beloved figures in Indianapolis 500 history, logging a stellar career behind the microphone on television, radio and most recently as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s public address announcer.   

“Bob is the voice of the Speedway,” said Simon Pagenaud, the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner. “When you get here and (his voice) feels like a hug.”

This May just doesn’t feel the same.

In February, Jenkins publicly shared his bout with brain cancer.

Race fans across the sport have flooded his mailbox ever since with messages of encouragement, hope and appreciation.  

Jenkins’ world-class broadcasting talent is accompanied by a warmth that turned strangers into friends long before he reached the big stage.

The people are what Jenkins misses this May. “I feel fine, I have never been (physically) sick, since this thing happened, but it is going to be tough to hang in there for a while.”

Since News 8’s visit, Jenkins made it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch an afternoon of practice.  He left us all with a simple slogan this time around. “It was fun to see everybody, and to say ‘hi’ to everybody. I am glad I came.”

“It is a great place, to spend the day.”

In fairness Mr. Jenkins, any day with you, is a day well-spent.