Wendy Venturini to become first female to call Sprint Cup race on radio Sunday at New Hampshire


Veteran NASCAR broadcaster Wendy Venturini has been in dozens of racetrack press boxes across the country.

After a while, they all start to look similar.

But when Venturini walks into the press box at New Hampshire Motor Speedway prior to Sunday’s Sylvania 300 Sprint Cup race, it will be one of the biggest highlights of the Chicago native’s career.

Venturini will mark NASCAR history by becoming the first female to perform radio play-by-play of a Sprint Cup race in the national broadcast on the Performance Racing Network (PRN).

“I would like to think that it’s been all the hard work that’s gotten me to this particular point, and not my gender, for sure,” Venturini said on Saturday’s Press Pass show that I co-hosted with Brad Gillie on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“But I know a lot of people will be tuning in just to hear a female call a race,” she added. “And I’m hoping that it’s people that watch television and have never listened to a radio broadcast.

“Wouldn’t it be cool that if they’re tuning in just because it’s something unique and something different, and if we get new listeners on the radio would be fantastic for PRN.”

It’s not the first radio PBP of a race that Venturini has done; she’s worked several NNS races for PRN over nearly the last two seasons.

But this one is special because it’s a Sprint Cup event – and the second race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, no less.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, not trying to get too worked up on the nerves, and just trying to call a solid race,” Venturini said. “I have a lot to learn, but I feel if I’m willing to put myself out there and make mistakes, it can only get better from there. And that’s what you have to do in order to become better in your field.”

Venturini has spent the last 11 seasons working telecasts for SPEED TV and its successor, FoxSports1.

“I’m actually looking forward to calling a Cup race because I’m more familiar with the storylines and the players involved vs. the Nationwide Series,” she said. “I have to study a lot of the backmarkers (in NNS), because there are so many that come through on a Nationwide weekend and one-off races. You have to know the storyline of even somebody just doing one race, you know have to know their story and how they got there.

“There’s a lot more learning of new people in the Nationwide Series, vs. here in Sprint Cup, I’ve been covering it for 11 years straight, so I feel like it’s my family, my home so to speak, so in that sense it’ll be a lot easier.”

While Venturini was on the air with us, she (and we) received a pleasant surprise when father Bill called in to wish her well.

The Venturini family has been involved in racing for nearly 50 years, and this has been a special weekend for the brood. Not only did Brennan Poole win Friday’s ARCA race at Kentucky Speedway, Venturini Motorsports had four drivers in the top-10 (including three top-five showings).

“Wendy, this is Dad, congratulations,” family patriarch Bill Venturini said. “It’s been a big weekend, with the win at Kentucky and you being the first female anchor … I’m very proud of you.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski