| March 20, 2018

Column: Young Guns Still In The Pits

April 28, 2016

Motorsports have been a passion of mine since 2003, and I have always envisioned myself being involved with it in some shape or form after graduation.

It has been a huge part of my life, as I have studied the game for so many years that I even know about underrated drivers like Leon “Jigger” Sirois and Tora Takagi.

Did you know that Cale Yarborough won the 1983 Daytona 500 in a show car from a local Hardee’s restaurant? You probably didn’t. But the fact that I have memorized this fact shows that racing is in my blood, as I continually learn new things about the sport.

At first, I wanted to be a NASCAR driver. But as I got older, the harsh reality struck, as I realized that I did not have any money to invest in the sport.

Although I will never be a driver, I realized that I could be involved in broadcasting to live my dream job within the sport.

I have always appreciated the stories provided by commentators Ken Squier, Bob Jenkins and Paul Page during the events. These broadcasters have been the best at capturing the raw adrenaline of motorsports.

The presence of these men on television has motivated me to pursue a career in broadcasting.

However, as I started my collegiate education, I began to notice the lack of young commentators in the sport.

When I watch a race, the only 21st century play-by-play commentators in NASCAR, Formula 1 and IndyCar are Adam Alexander, Rick Allen and Leigh Diffey. In addition, professionals such as Mike Joy, Allen Bestwick and Bob Varsha have been around for many decades and are the best at their job.

As in other sports, the chance of being a motorsports commentator is slim, due to the desire of broadcasting stations to retain experts on their television program.

The likelihood of earning a lead commentator role in motorsports is greatly reduced if an individual does not possess any prior experience from a driving or mechanic perspective. In addition, most professionals in this field are people who were heavily involved in racing like Jeff Gordon and Paul Tracy.

However, there are instances in which play-by-play announcers are broadcast journalists, much like I would describe myself. To succeed in motorsports broadcasting, hard work and an intense knowledge of the sport are essential.

In this field, professionals must work their way up the ladder and stay motivated to pursue a career in race coverage, and must be open-minded to trying different projects to build their resume.

I understand that broadcasting companies want experts to provide the main coverage, but it greatly diminishes the chances for upcoming broadcast journalists to find open positions.

However, I am not bothered because I know there are different outlets to pursue in regard to racing. I do not expect to cover the Sprint Cup overnight.

If I start a local short track or small racing series, I would be excited because I love the sport and any career opportunities present an absolute honor.

But I am well aware that the possibility of earning a television position as a commentator will be incredibly difficult. Seeing young announces like Kaitlyn Vincie and Chris Neville work their way up the ranks as pit reporters is inspiring and provides some hope for the future of racing.

But if television isn’t the route for me, then there is always radio. In fact, the main announcers in radio are simply broadcasters who capture the stories better because they have corner commentators.

In television, journalists are stuck in a booth and oftentimes can only see what is being broadcast on the television prompters. If you listen to a radio broadcast and watch a race on television, you should compare the two styles of commentating and note which one provides the better coverage.

I honestly enjoy both styles, but I see the differences as far as the access a journalist has when covering a race from difference angles.

As we reach the end of another semester, I often wonder if I still want to pursue a career in motorsports. The answer is still a resounding yes.

However, I am unsure of where I will end up. It doesn’t matter to me, I just want to live the dream of covering motorsports.

Luis Torres can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @TheLTFiles

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