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'What a ride it's been' | Dave Calabro shares his memories of Indy 500 announcer Bob Jenkins

"We laughed and cried together. The Indy 500 does that to you."

INDIANAPOLIS — I just wanted to sit down and write out a few thoughts about Bob Jenkins who passed away today.

You all knew him as an amazing broadcaster. I got to know him as a friend.

I called him "The Pride of Liberty Indiana!” … his hometown. 

I first met Bob in 1983. He was doing farm reports on radio station WIRE. 

I was a college kid working the weekend overnight shift at WXTZ, an easy listening old people station. 

Bob was 15 years older and wiser than my college self. He was gracious and giving to me. He would always ask how I was doing and if I needed any help. I thought it was cool that he cared enough to keep tabs on me. 

Bob took a TV job at some company called ESPN. His career took off as NASCAR's lead guy.

RELATED: Legendary Indy 500 announcer Bob Jenkins dies at 73

I started working at WTHR in 1992. Bob was hosting a weekly racing show on ESPN. 

The show was taped here in Indy. One day, Bob needed a fill-in. I got the call. I filled in many times and Bob would always check in on me. 

Again, why? That was his character. He treated everyone the same.

Bob later joined me in the PA booth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We called many Indy 500 qualifying and race days together. 

Credit: WTHR
13News' Dave Calabro along with IMS announcer Bob Jenkins and spotter Bill Durbin.

He knew my strengths and weaknesses and I knew his. He could complete my thoughts and I could do the same for him.

We laughed and cried together. The Indy 500 does that to you.

Broadcasting has become big business and very corporate. But Bob didn’t care about all that. He cared about the fans - and only the fans. 

That's why I loved Bob.  

He would cry every race day when he heard the annual playing of “On the Banks of the Wabash." He didn’t care who saw him. 

Bob was real. 

RELATED: After brain cancer diagnosis, Bob Jenkins ready to enjoy Indy 500 as a fan

It didn’t matter who we ran into, Bob treated everyone with dignity and respect. He made you feel special. 

Credit: Dave Calabro
Bob Jenkins, Mario Andretti and Dave Calabro at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

I’ll miss my broadcast partner in the booth. But I will really miss the cold beer conversations after the track closes with Jenkins. I know he is in heaven right now sharing a laugh with all those that went before him, including his wife. 

Life is short. We aren’t promised tomorrow. 

May we live each day to the fullest. 

Rest in peace, Bob. What a ride it's been.

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