As a child, Mark Jaynes would record himself as the lead announcer of fictitious Indianapolis 500 Mile Race broadcasts on a cassette player. The imaginary race calls came complete with ghost interviews of his favorite drivers.
Four decades later, fantasy has become reality. Jaynes has been named chief announcer for the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network that airs every Verizon IndyCar Series race. Included among the 16 events in 2016 is the highly anticipated 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Jaynes will become just the sixth “Voice of the 500” for the radio network as it enters its 65th season on air. He follows in the audio tracks of Sid Collins, Paul Page, Lou Palmer, Bob Jenkins and Mike King.
Page stepped aside as planned following the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season after his second stint as chief announcer (1977-1987 and 2014-2015). Robby Greene, president of IMS Productions that oversees the radio network, and Wally Leavitt, the radio network’s general manager, searched long and hard for Page’s replacement – but they didn’t have to search far. Jaynes has been a radio network reporter in turns and pit lane since 1996 and more recently served as lead announcer for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires broadcasts.
“I told Robby and Wally that they were in a position to make someone’s dream come true, and that’s certainly what they’ve done,” said Jaynes, 52, who grew up listening to Indy 500 broadcasts in his Monrovia, Ind., backyard and has worked in radio since graduating high school. “It’s difficult to put it into words what this means.”
Leavitt calls the radio network “the eyes for the listener” and that the chief announcer is “the conductor of the orchestra.” As the search for Page’s replacement continued, he said Jaynes’ qualifications ascended to the top.
“Mark’s been doing this for 20 years and he brings a ton of enthusiasm to each broadcast,” Leavitt said. “He’s the senior member on the network, he knows the product inside and out and has a great love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for INDYCAR, for Indy Lights. He is the right person for the job.”
Jaynes said he understands well the legacy that has been created by his predecessors in the lead chair, dating to Collins’ unmistakable voice that was the backbone of the radio network from 1952-1976. Jaynes worked directly with the last three chief announcers – Jenkins, King and Page – and learned plenty along the way, particularly when it comes to the aura and mystique of the Indianapolis 500.
“The most important thing to me is to make sure that the event is front and center, and not me,” Jaynes said. “I think all of the chief announcers have done a tremendous job of that, and that’s what I want to continue. I hope to glean the passion and enthusiasm that they all felt for the race itself and the facility and the fans.
“No question those guys have stretched out the shoes over the years and I’ll admit to a fair amount of pressure to be able to fill those. But because I had the opportunity to work so closely with three of them, I think that prepared me.”
Jaynes will be surrounded by familiar faces and voices on the network. Page will revisit for the 100th Indianapolis 500 to call the start of the race and ceremonially turn over the baton to Jaynes. Davey Hamilton, an 11-time Indy 500 starter, returns all season as the driver analyst. Radio network veterans Jake Query, Nick Yeoman, Michael Young, Dave Furst, Katie Hargitt and Rob Howden will report from the turns and pits at most events.
“There’s no other group of people that I would want to do this with and I don’t think there’s any group that would do it any better than we will,” Jaynes said.
All Verizon IndyCar Series races will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network of stations around the nation and be available on Sirius/XM satellite radio, the Verizon INDYCAR app and IndyCar.com. Qualifying sessions will be available on Sirius/XM, the Verizon INDYCAR app and IndyCar.com. Practice sessions will be available through the Verizon INDYCAR app and IndyCar.com.