IRL: Indy 500: Jenkins, Page, Goodyear press conference, part II

Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript May 6, 2003 Bob Jenkins, Paul Page and Scott Goodyear Part 2 of 3 Q: Yes. Anybody else have something to say anything about language? B. Jenkins: I have said this many times and a lot...

Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
May 6, 2003

Bob Jenkins, Paul Page and Scott Goodyear

Part 2 of 3

Q: Yes. Anybody else have something to say anything about language?

B. Jenkins: I have said this many times and a lot of you probably are tired of hearing it, but I am a race fan first and a television announcer second. And I sat at home so many years and watched television, and still do as a matter of fact, and watch it closely and in some cases listen closely, and from that I draw my ideas as to what I think is good and what I think is bad. And I will be very honest with you, when I am watching other series on television there are times when I hit the mute button because I just do not think that what is about to happen is necessary, and in fact, sometimes I think it is rather silly to do that. But I am not being critical. I am just telling you my personal opinion. I think Edward R. Murrow once said, and I am not one to quote people, but I think I learned this back in college and that is the job of an announcer is to try to appeal to as many people as possible. So you speak with good English and in terms that a college professor can understand without insulting the intelligence of a truck driver, and that is not again to insult truck drivers and their lack of intelligence. But that is what I try to do. I just try to be a race fan and I try to express to my audience exactly what I am feeling and I try to convey to them the emotion that I am feeling. I think if we all did that and when we all do that, and all of us do I think on our telecast, we keep our head above perhaps others that are in our same business.

P. Page: I do think, if I can add one thing, that you have to remember that all of us, but especially play-by-play analysts and hosts, we constantly have a conversation going on in our right ear while we are trying to talk. And every now and then that just so distracts you that you say something that is out of syntax or bad grammar, or just stupid. And there is not an event that we do not go home and all of us, you know, we get in the car after the race and we look at each other and say, 'did you hear what I said'?

B. Jenkins: Boy you can say that again.

P. Page: It just happens. And that is part of your process and so much all at once.

Q: Well, that is the difference between the speakers and writers. I am no good on my feet, but when I write I have the option 10 minutes or 10 hours from now to say, 'oh, did I say that stupid thing'? And I alter it.

B. Jenkins: That is a very good point. And there have been days, believe me, and I know Paul is in the same boat, when we get off the air and I go into a deep state of depression because I think I know that I have done a very poor job. I remember one year after doing a race at Cleveland, I blew the opening in a show and it was my fault. The producer was telling me what to do and I just simply blew it. I went home and my in-laws were there from Florida and they were going to be there only a short time and I could not sit down and have a conversation with them. I had to go to my room and I had to sulk the rest of the night. So we really do have feelings and we know when we screw up and we do like to hear criticism and comments on how we can improve.

Q: Mind you, I was not intending to be an accusatory here--

B. Jenkins: No, I understand, but I am just telling you that we really try to do our best.

Q: I suspect there are times when you think you have done something improper that the listener does not hear that, you hear it.

B. Jenkins: Right. You know you made a mistake but perhaps other people have--

S. Goodyear: If I may add something to that because I am the new guy on the team, actually, and last year was a huge learning curve for me. It was almost like going from a Formula Ford up to an Indy car in a sense and for that, you know, as a driver everybody knows that the driver out there is very busy. He is trying to get ready to negotiate a turn at 220 miles an hour, trying to make sure he hits his mark by six inches and watching the cars in front of him, probably watching the cars behind him. Checking out the mirrors, looking at the computer and all these things are going on. You are just multi-tasking along with listening on the radio when things are happening, either from the spotter or from the pit box or what have you. Well, I was overwhelmed last year when I started to do this job and that is from the standpoint that I really always parallel two things together in that, when you take a green flag in a race as a driver you are going flat out as hard as you can until you get a yellow and then it is time to strategize. And the same thing happens in the booth. We have the same build up to the green flag as the driver does because we are waiting for 'we are live on three, two, one.' And maybe it is a little different for Bob and Paul because these guys are truly the professionals in it and I have learned so much from them in a short space of just over a year. And for me it is amazing when they say, 'live' and you are going, it is a green flag and you go, go, go. But when it is yellow, we are not sitting around sipping coffee. We are strategizing with the producer, listening to what is going on inside the truck down there and trying to figure out what is coming up next, where you are going to go to and to what segments, what you are about ready to show. And it is just like racing there again, that you can make a plan but you go back to a green flag and it can all change in one turns notice or in a moments notice and it always does. So to pick up on something that these guys are talking about where there is always something going on in your ear, it is the same thing as driving the race car. It is always forever changing. And when we are talking, there is the producer usually in your ear talking about where they are going next or we have to get down to Jack Arute or Gary Gerould in 10 seconds. Okay. Be off in five (seconds). All that stuff happening in your ear, and for me I used to always laugh because I used to always take a couple of Advil's before I got in the race car because I was going to have a headache at the end of the day. I knew that just from the pressure of driving the car and listening to the motor and everything like that. After the first couple of races last year, I started taking Advil before the show because you got a headache by the time you are finished because you are 110 percent as when you are driving a race car, mentally, and I am going to say you are about 125 percent when you are sitting in a booth, because if I make a small mistake on a race track I can turn the wheel and get it back as I am going through the turn. If you make a small mistake on the air everybody in the world is listening and you are just sitting there feeling like the biggest idiot that there is. So there is a lot of pressure in both and I find it difficult to understand how it all works but, boy, I am learning a lot. I have learned a lot in the last year. And I have seen it with both these guys, and Bob is the host and Paul is play-by-play, and there are some times that we are going to go back and go live to air and something happens, or a machine is not ready to show whatever clip it was we are going to do, and these guys will be prepped ready to go and just about ready to go on live and the producer will say to either one of those two guys, 'no, we cannot do that. Change it to this. Go with that'. And all of sudden they do it and they just fill it in and it just happens along very easily, or a machine breaks and we are about ready to go to something and these guys filled in for 10 or 15 seconds until something else co mes up. I do not want to say it is adlibbed, but I mean they are true professionals. And I have been enjoying it and I do not think the people at home really understand what goes on behind the scenes, because they see racing on TV, they know the driver has 40 guys behind him as a team and here, we have 40 or 50 guys, and girls, that are dedicated every weekend when we go to an event and probably over 100 or 125 when you come to the Indy 500 that are part of our team. The team philosophy is still there. So it is a neat environment. It is a learning environment for me, but I just wanted to add that in there.

Q: I do not see how you could go very far wrong, rhetorically, if you speak simple but correct English.

S. Goodyear: Well, we certainly do.

Q: And I don't say you don't.

S. Goodyear: And I appreciate that and I think that we are all sort of, when we first heard that the Japanese race might come home we thought, 'boy, we have a learning curve ahead of us.' So we are worried about making sure that we get to fill in the information correctly. Well, I appreciate what you are saying. But there again, it is relaying that to the people at home, and the people that watch TV, that sometimes do not have the same opinion as you.

K. Johnson: I would like to toss something out that might further help answer that question and this will be directed to Paul and Bob. Scott, as a driver analyst, obviously came from the car, but in television you are conveying what people are seeing. But both Bob Jenkins and Paul Page brought years of experience with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and in that medium you have to literally paint the picture. Bob, can you just discuss how that background has helped you in the television booth? Or Paul? It looks like we dropped Bob. He will get back in.

S. Goodyear: I do that to Bob all the time. I talk so long that he had nodded off, scared him off.

K. Johnson: Paul, same scenario for you though. I mean, your years in the radio booth and then you transfer that knowledge and experience into the TV realm.

P. Page: One of the most interesting conversations that Bob and I have had, and you have to remember, Bob and I go back to hard news days in the early '70s. And the conversation is that he does not miss radio at all and loves television and I miss radio. I miss that ability to put two events that actually occurred simultaneously, put them together and give them both their due. And I miss the large crews. Having said that, I absolutely love the television, but sometimes the fact that in radio, where you are the anchor you are controlling the whole thing. I have a boss in my producer Bob Goodrich, who is more critical in determining where the show is going to go than I am as play-by-play, or Bob is as the host. So sometimes what they know down in the truck and what we know up in the booth are two entirely different pieces of knowledge because they have more data and stats and just general logistical support, and they can actually talk to people where we cannot ask the spotter on Turn 3 what he is seeing to tell us that this is going to happen, whereas the truck does. So sometimes we get in differences as to where the flow of the story is going. That is the nature of television. It is also the nature of the television that you are really only supposed to comment relative to what is on the screen. Now we have been able to change that somewhat and the audience, as it gets more sophisticated, can deal with that. But it used to be that if you mentioned that this was happening and somebody did not see it, the audience would just go crazy. 'You are talking about it, I need to see.' And the most extreme example of that was when Kevin Cogan crashed on the first lap at Indy and I saw it. And it turns out to be like a second-and-a-half before the shot came up, but that was a '30 minute' second-and-a-half for me. And I was waiting and waiting and waiting and trying to decide whether or not I could jump in there and say, 'this is going on'. And the shot fortunately came up.

Q: Would any of you like to comment about the necessity of thinking on your feet? That is another thing I cannot do. It takes me 20 minutes to assemble my thoughts, if then.

P. Page: Well, for me the trick is preparation. I go into the booth with some notes, a good many notes, and I work on them carefully. The real fact is you almost never get a chance to look at those notes because it is guaranteed the second you look away from the screen or the track something is going to happen. But the fact that you do that preparation, and you do it constantly and you think about it, you do not have specific things memorized but you know that there are tangents that should something A happen, that you then subsequently want to do B and C.

Q: There must constantly be moments when something has happened but you do not know quite what it is.

P. Page: Oh, more often than not. Well, last year is a great example. We knew that a pass was in the process of occurring for the lead, that Paul Tracy was going around. I clearly understood that there was no way that Helio Castroneves was going to finish the lap on fuel, as did his team, and then suddenly we cut to a crash. So now I do not have any idea, and neither did Scott, neither did Bob, of exactly when the yellow occurred. We knew it was critical. I played it safe and, I think, verbalized that we will probably end up with scoring at the end of the last lap. I knew that there was a timing line there and we might go to that. But Scott and I, all of us, also clearly understand the rules and not being sure of exactly when that yellow hit, we did not know what we could say. And we kind of went off the air still discussing that. So yes, you are constantly doing that sort of thing. You are also constantly trying to balance. You may have a guy in the lead who is in the lead for the first time and he has a personal best going, but the fact is that he is there more because of a pit strategy that put him there at that particular time and the reality is that in another five laps that whole complexion will change and he is not a real factor. So how much attention do you pay to him? How much attention do you pay to the eventual leader of the race? It is probably an ongoing basis for a decision process of where you are taking the story. And the only way you do that is being prepared to do the story.

B. Jenkins: And just as Scott was talking about how things can go wrong during a telecast I was disconnected.

Part III

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , Kevin Cogan