For the past 37 years, Gary Gerould has been part of motorsports on television. This weekend, he’s working his final event.
Gerould, a pit reporter since 2005 on ESPN’s coverage of the NHRA, will retire from television after working Sunday’s Auto Club NHRA Final) at Pomona, Calif. (ESPN2/ESPN3, Sunday). The race also is the last for ESPN’s NHRA coverage, which has aired exclusively on the network since 2001.
Gerould first appeared on ESPN in the mid-1980s as a pit reporter on telecasts of CART IndyCar races. At the time, he was working for NBC, which televised the CART events in the U.S., and ESPN distributed the telecasts internationally.
“I remember the first time we went to Australia with the Indy Cars, I was totally blown away by the number of Aussie fans who just came up like I was a long lost friend,” Gerould said. “I had to really think about it but then it just made sense because for several years we had had the Indy Car races on Australian television. That was kind of an eye-opener and it was pretty cool.”
In 1990, Gerould made the move to ABC and ESPN and has been on the air every year since then.
What’s his most memorable interview?
“There’ve been so many,” he said. “I did an interview with Evel Knievel from a hospital bed in Reno after one of his failed jumps. He broke a ton of bones and all but killed himself. That one has always stood out in my mind.
“But I couldn’t pinpoint one or even a top five. It’s just been an abundance of characters and a lot of really wonderful people that you get to know and enjoy.”
– Gary Gerould
While he’s retiring from motorsports television, Gerould plans to continue as the radio play-by-play voice of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, a job he’s held for more than 30 years.
“I feel like this isn’t truly going to hit me until probably late next April or early May, when I’m not going to an airport or to a racetrack,” he said. “It’s going to be a whole different kind of world, and I’m really intrigued as to how I’m going to handle it because it’s ingrained in all of us – we’re so used to the regimen, and the travel, and we just go, go, go. And now it’s going to take a dramatic turn in the other direction once basketball season is over.”
As he steps away from racing, Gerould is certain of one thing:
“It’s experiences, it’s people, it’s dramatic moments in an event, and I just feel so very, very fortunate to have had this long of a run and to have shared so many memorable experiences,” he said. “It’s just been a marvelous, marvelous ride.”