This will be the 5th year Marty Reid is calling the Indy 500 for ABC. Reid has worked for ESPN since 1982 and calls their broadcasts in both NASCAR and IndyCar. We caught up with Reid prior to this year's Indy 500.
Trading Paint: For someone who has never been, what is the Indy 500 like?
Marty Reid: It's got to be one of those things you put on your bucket list. If you're a sports fan you've got to go to the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl, a World Series game. You've got to go to the Indy 500. If you know nothing about the history of the event, you'll have goosebumps because you will look around and see an ocean of people. I get there at 5:30 in the morning just to watch the track come alive. It's sensory overload.
TP: What's the storyline of this year's race?
MR: I think it's if Helio Castroneves can win four. He'll be the youngest to get to four out of the four who did it. He has enough skill and talent to win five, maybe even six.
TP: Talk about Castroneves.
MR: I really wish there was as much a fuss made over him as there is over Danica. What you see is what you get. There isn't a single time that I have been around him when a fan calls out and he doesn't wave back or sign an autograph.
TP: What happened to the days when drivers would run the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same season. Some still try, but why don't we see it as much anymore?
MR: It's harder today. The cars have become so specialized. The talent pool is so much better across the board. The are more talented drivers in both series, NASCAR and IndyCar. I think it would be great for both sports, I would love to see it happen. But there is also the sponsors and the economic side of it. Is anyone driving a Chevy going to get permission to go drive and win in a Honda? Sponsors might say, I don't want you doing both. The economics in the old days were different, guys raced every chance they could because they had to.
TP: How difficult is it for Danica Patrick to do what she's doing?
MR: It's extremely difficult. Despite the fact that she was involved in three wrecks - not all her fault -- she's showed signs of grasping what it's all about it. It's different, you pitch it into a corner in a NASCAR race and by the way there are 42 other drivers out there banging on your fenders saying, "Rookie I'm coming through." There is probably a group of the IndyCar fan base that doesn't like the fact that she's looking at NASCAR. They feel like she's giving up on IndyCar. And talk to any of our NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and they will tell you that driving in the Nationwide Series is harder than driving the Sprint Cup car.
TP: You knew you wanted to be a sportscaster at a young age, didn't you.
MR: I made my first commercial at 13. My older brother was a radio DJ. I was a jock, I loved sports. My neighbor and I would drive down to the Hershey Arena and call minor league hockey games. My neighbor was Ray Oberheim, he was about three years older than me, he would drive, that was the only way we could get to the game. We'd bring a tape recorder and call the games. Then we'd go back home and listen to them and critique each other.
TP: Do you still have any of those tapes?
MR: I wish. I really wish I had one. I have some of those very first ESPN tapes and every time I think I am getting too good, I go back and play one.
TP: You used to call some Columbus Clippers games. Tell our Yankees fans which player you remember most.
MR: Donnie Baseball. Don Mattingly. When he was playing Triple A, he was fun to watch. I went to spring training once for like five days and every ball he hit was a rope. You could just tell, he was always the one who stood out the most in my mind. I always regretted the fact that he never got a World Series ring.
Photo courtesy of ESPN