There will be a new “voice of the Indianapolis 500” on the IMS Radio Network next May. The question is whether it will be a completely new voice or a familiar old friend.
The position is open because Mike King, the longtime voice for IMSRN since 1996, and the voice of the ‘500 since 1999, will step down on November 1 to tend to family and other business responsibilities, per an IMS release. King started as a pit reporter in 1995.
“I would like to thank the Hulman-George family and the entire INDYCAR family for an incredible 19 years with the IMS Radio Network,” King said in the release. “Calling the Indy 500 and every other IndyCar Series race has fulfilled so many of my hopes and dreams. I loved every second of it, especially that special connection with the fans over the airwaves. But I’m also looking forward to this next phase of my life, including dedicating more time to my family, which always has been so understanding and supportive while I was on the road working with the network.”
King’s day job is working as a marketing and public relations specialist at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind.
Some of the other voices on the IMS Radio Network include Jake Query (also a pit reporter for NBCSN’s Indy Lights coverage), IndyCar driver Pippa Mann, full season reporters Nick Yeoman, Mark Jaynes and Michael Young and other part-time voices that include Indiana Pacers broadcaster Chris Denari, Jerry Baker and Katie Hargitt, who was a pit reporter for a handful of events earlier this year.
Familiar voices who no doubt would stir the senses for longtime Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar fans include Bob Jenkins and Paul Page, but no word has been given as to whether either is a serious candidate for the role.
Whether this is merely King stepping down or a harbinger of other changes within the Hulman Racing division, under Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, also remains to be seen. Miles has said throughout this year that some strategic changes would come under the Hulman Racing umbrella on the personnel side.
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.