IMS radio voice Mike King will step down

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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.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes Indy 500 should never have guaranteed starting positions

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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INDIANAPOLIS – Like many viewers watching last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 “Bump Day” on NBC, former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was captivated by the drama.

He also believes INDYCAR should not follow NASCAR’s path of “Chartered Teams” locking up positions in the major races; such as the Daytona 500. That has taken away the excitement and drama of the Daytona Duels.

“Not trying to get myself in the weeds here, but I think Indy could look at the history of NASCAR and how it has changed the excitement for some of the Duels and qualifying,” Earnhardt told NBC Sports.com. “I would not go in that direction. If I was in control of things, I would not pull those levers to have guaranteed spots. The thrill of Bump Day and the battle for the final row, increased the value of Sunday and viewership for Sunday. It taught people about other drivers and teams. We don’t learn those things if you don’t see them going through that battle and experience.

“I thought it was a tremendous win for the people that want to keep things at Indy as they are.”

Earnhardt, who is part of NBC’s crew for Sunday’s telecast of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, believes the way it all played out created a storyline that enhances the interest in the 500-Mile Race.

“I experienced the drama before with Bump Day that has happened here in this race in the past, but I thought it was symbolic with the conversation going on about guaranteed spots,” Earnhardt said. “For the folks who are the traditionalists who believe you have to earn your way in, it was a great day for those folks and their argument. Fernando Alonso and how that story played out and his reaction to not making it, I thought he handled it like the champion he is. All of that was interesting.

“The little teams beating the big teams was pretty cool. It created some really exciting stuff and did nothing but build excitement in the race.

“Even though Alonso is not in the race, I’m just as interested, or more interested, than I was before. Them not being in the race didn’t change it for me. If anything, that whole drama and how it played out made me more excited to see the event.”

Earnhardt is attending his first Indianapolis 500 in person. He will be part of NBC’s Indianapolis 500 Pre-race show along with Mike Tirico and 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick.

Earnhardt will also drive the Pace Car to lead the 33-car starting lineup to the green flag to start the 103rdIndianapolis 500. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time.