Senior staff writer
Becoming the new voice of the Indianapolis 500 is beginning to sink in with veteran broadcaster and Beech Grove High School educator Mark Jaynes.
Jaynes will anchor the Indianapolis 500 and Verizon IndyCar Series radio broadcasts beginning March 13 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. His new on-air status is particularly intriguing because he will be calling the history-making 100th running of the Indy 500 May 29.
“This is an awesome responsibility because it is the 100th,” Jaynes said. “It’s the Indianapolis 500 and no matter what year it is, it is the biggest race in the world.
“We want to make sure we pay reverence to the history of the race, and we are already working on ways to do that. Once the green flag flies we will be focused on the race, but during our post-race we will let the history soak in.”
Jaynes becomes the sixth voice of the 500, succeeding Paul Page, Mike King and Bob Jenkins. Page will return for the start of the 500 and ceremonially pass the microphone to Jaynes.
The on-air team for the IndyCar Radio Network features former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton, WNDE radio personality Jake Query, Nick Yoeman, Michael Young, Rob Howden and Channel 6 personality Dave Furst. Joining them for the historic broadcast will be historian Donald Davidson, Southsiders Dave Wilson and Greg Rakestraw, Jerry Baker, Chris Denari and Kevin Lee.
Jaynes, an alum of Monrovia High School, began broadcasting with WCBK-FM in Martinsville and was with WTHI-TV in Terre Haute for more than 13 years. At WTHI he called feature races at the Terre Haute Action Track and originated 500 qualifying coverage.
He joined the Indy Racing League broadcast team for two events in 1996, which led to calling the IndyCar race at Orlando in January 1997. He has called races from turns and pit lane. He was the lead announcer for Indy Lights Series broadcasts.
“That race began a consecutive race string that continues today,” Jaynes said. “So many years later it is going to be an honor and a privilege to anchor the 100th Indianapolis 500.”
In 2000 he joined the Indiana High School Athletic Association Radio and Television Network and broadcast state championships in most sports.
Jaynes serves as assistant athletic director at Beech Grove, where he also teaches communications. He thanked and praised administrators Paul Kaiser, Steve Cox and Matt English for their cooperation and support, which allows him to be away from the school.
“I’m chasing a dream, and they are helping me do that,” Jaynes said. “The majority of the races are in the summertime and during school breaks. The students also benefit from my experiences because they can identify with what I do and how I prepare for broadcasts.”
Jaynes also attended Indiana State University and Ivy Tech. He was head football coach at Monrovia High for two years and was an assistant coach on the 2009 Class 4A state runner-up team.
He and his wife, Desiree, an academic advisor at IUPUI, have a daughter, Lauren Wilber, who teaches at Eastwood Middle School, and a son, Evan, who teaches at Danville Middle School, and a grandson.
Jaynes has broadcast his share of tragedies, including accidents that killed two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Weldon at Las Vegas and racing veteran Justin Wilson at Pocono (Penn.).
“They were true sportsmen and gentlemen,” Jaynes said.” It’s the reality of the sport. You can never make racing safe because of the dangers, but you can make it safer, and the IndyCar Series leaders do that.”
Jaynes lists his most exciting 500 moments on radio: the fourth-turn, last-lap crash by 500 leader JR Hildebrand in 2011, the 2006 finish between Sam Hornish Jr. and Marco Andretti and the Helio Castroneves-Paul Tracy controversy in 2001.