Bob Jenkins, former ‘Voice of the 500,’ dies after bout with brain cancer

AVON, Ind. (WISH) — Legendary racing broadcaster Bob Jenkins has died after a battle with brain cancer, News 8’s Charlie Clifford confirmed Monday.

The former “Voice of the 500” passed away at age 73 while in hospice care in Avon, Clifford reports. In February, Jenkins publicly shared his bout with brain cancer.

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.   

Jenkins was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 2019.

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.

Earlier this year, before Jenkins missed his first Indianapolis 500 since 1965, he talked about his career with Clifford.

According to IMS, Jenkins went to his first 500 in 1960 and had missed only two races since: “in 1961 when he couldn’t get anyone to take him, and in 1965 when he was on a trip as a high school senior.”

Jenkins came to the track in May while fighting his cancer to receive the Robin Miller Award. According to IMS, Jenkins “made a brief, poignant acceptance speech and was warmly received by a large group of friends and admirers from the racing community and media.”

Racing great Mario Andretti called Jenkins “unforgettable” in a Monday evening tweet: “Our sport has lost a wonderful man and an iconic voice, but Bob Jenkins is unforgettable. Myself and so many others have lost a dear and loyal friend. My sincere condolences to his family. He will be missed.”

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves said he was deeply sad to hear the news:

IMS President Douglas Boles said it was a sad day for race fans and shared a statement about Jenkins.

Penske Entertainment Corp. Chairman Roger Penske released the following statement:

“Bob Jenkins had an incredible passion for racing and his enthusiasm, combined with his genuine love and knowledge of the sport, endeared him to motorsports fans all over the world. His announcing career spanned nearly 50 years, and to an entire generation, the sound of Bob’s voice simply meant it was time to go racing. That legendary voice became the soundtrack for the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will miss Bob’s kindness, his professionalism and his unique ability to bring us all closer to the track with his stories and insights. Our thoughts are with Bob’s family and his many friends throughout the racing community and beyond.”