When fans tune into the CARS Tour Throwback 276 race broadcast, they will be greeted by a familiar voice from NASCAR history.
Dr. Jerry Punch will join play-by-play announcer Tony Stevens for at least a portion of the call for both the Super Late Model and Late Model Stock portions of the second-ever retro race at the Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina on Saturday night.
The exactly length of his participation in the broadcast is yet to be determined.
“My grandfather worked the fourth-turn gate, and my grandmother would make pimiento sandwiches,” Punch said. “I watched Richard and Lee Petty race there. That was special for so many years, watching legends race. I saw Sam Ard, Butch Lindley, so many great drivers, Harry Gant.”
Punch will also take part in the pre-race fan fest and autograph session. He will be joining Bobby and Donnie Allison, Hut Stricklin, Robert Pressley, Hut Stricklin, multi-time NASCAR Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., and former Punch colleague at ESPN and two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Randy LaJoie.
A lesser known fact is that Punch once raced at the famed .363-mile oval and other regional tracks. Once he progressed deeper into medical school, he gave up the helmet and exchanged it for a microphone. His first major league broadcast came in 1980 for the Motor Racing Network, and he joined upstart ESPN in 1984 as it used motorsports to help grow the platform.
Punch became a household name for both his NASCAR and college football exploits. He still works in a reduced capacity in sporting broadcasts and most-recently worked the pits for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 as part of ABC’s final broadcast of the event.
“We’re honored to have Dr. Punch join us for the Throwback 276,” said Chris Ragle, Director of Operations for the CARS Response Energy Tour. “Sometimes we all focus on drivers and crew chiefs, but media members like Dr. Punch are just as important to the history of the sport and, in some cases, have helped to shape it more than the personalities behind the wheels and wrenches. The graciousness of legends like Dr. Punch to join us at this event once again showcases the importance of short track racing to this sport at all levels.”
As is the case with all CARS Tour races, the Throwback 276 can be viewed live with a CARSTour.TV subscription package. A condensed version of the race will a separate broadcast element will also air on MAVTV on September 6 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.