VERSUS, the network that celebrates real competition and the exclusive cable television home of the IndyCar Series®, today announced its talent line-up for the 2009 race season. Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl will serve as the in-booth announce team, while Robbie Floyd, Jack Arute and Lindy Thackston will provide trackside updates and reports during each telecast. VERSUS will air 12 races in 2009 and will open the season April 5 live from St. Petersburg, Fla. All race telecasts will be produced and available in HD.
“VERSUS is very excited about the stellar line-up of on-air talent assembled for our IndyCar Series telecasts,” said Marc Fein, Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Business Operation for VERSUS. “We feel these individuals, who are great personalities and authorities in the sport, will provide viewers with a unique insider’s perspective along with engaging in-depth analysis during our race-day coverage.”
Jenkins, a veteran motorsports television and radio announcer, will serve as VERSUS’ lead announcer for the network’s IndyCar Series telecasts. Jenkins served as ESPN’s lead motorsports anchor for its stock car and open-wheel racing coverage from 1979-2003 and has worked for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network in various capacities, including chief announcer. For the last two seasons, Jenkins has anchored Firestone Indy Lights broadcasts.
Beekhuis and Buhl will join Jenkins in the booth as the network’s lead analysts. Beekhuis, a former driver in CART (1989-92) and the 1988 Indy Lights champion, worked as a pit reporter during ESPN, SPEED, CBS and NBC CART/Champ Car broadcasts before moving to the lead-analyst role in 2007. Buhl, who became an announcer for the Firestone Indy Lights in 2004, had 78 starts in the IndyCar Series and is a former teammate to Tony Stewart. He started his own race team in 2000 and stunned the establishment with a win from 22nd on the grid at the season-opener at Walt Disney World Speedway. Buhl, the 1992 Indy Lights champion, is the co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
Arute, Floyd and Thackston will join VERSUS’ telecasts to provide analysis from pit lane.
Arute is a 25-year sports broadcasting veteran who has worked as a pit reporter for ESPN and ABC’s IndyCar Series, NASCAR and Formula One broadcasts. In addition to his motorsports duties at ESPN, he serves as a sideline reporter for the network’s college football broadcasts and is a host for Sirius Satellite Radio’s college football talk show.
Floyd is an experienced television reporter who covered the 2004 and 2006 Olympic Games for NBC and has also worked for ESPN, Fox Sports and SPEED on various live sporting events.
Thackston anchors and reports for First Coast News in Jacksonville and is an experienced motorsports reporter who has worked for XM Satellite Radio and SpeedTV.com, providing trackside updates during American Le Mans Series race coverage. She grew up near Indianapolis, serving as an Indianapolis 500 Princess, before graduating from Purdue University.
“We couldn’t be happier with the broadcast team VERSUS has put together,” said Charlie Morgan, president and chief operating officer for IMS Productions. “Jenkins, Beekhuis, Buhl and Arute bring an incredible amount of on- and off-track experience to the broadcast, while Floyd and Thackston will offer a fresh perspective to viewers.”
VERSUS, which announced its multi-year partnership with the IndyCar Series in August 2008, will air races for the next 10 years beginning with the 2009 season. Each of VERSUS’ race telecasts will last a minimum of three hours and will include extended pre-race coverage. The network will also air a one-hour preview show the day before each race which will feature qualification highlights and all of the relevant IndyCar Series stories of that weekend. Additionally, the network will feature extensive coverage of all the qualification days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading up to the Indianapolis 500.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.