The Indiana native enjoyed a motorsport broadcasting career that spanned five decades, including a stint as the chief announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network between 1990 and 1998.
He was renowned for his work with ESPN and ABC and, after attending his first Indy 500 in 1960, only missed the race twice – once in 1961 when nobody would take him, and again in 1965 when he was on a high school trip.
After graduating from Indiana University, Jenkins began working in radio, first as a news reporter in Fort Wayne and Valparaiso and then covering farming news for WIRE in Indianapolis.
In 1979 he worked in motorsport for the first time, his friend Paul Page helping him land the backstretch announcer role with IMS Radio Network.
That same year Jenkins began working for ESPN as one of the first on-air employees and spent more than two decades as the lead commentator for the network’s NASCAR coverage, forming a popular trio with Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons.
As well as his commentary work with ESPN/ABC and the IMS Radio Network, Jenkins anchored the ‘Thunder’ series broadcasts of USAC Sprintcar and midget racing and was the host of ‘SpeedWeek’ on ESPN.
His voice was also heard in a number of video games and movies such as Days of Thunder and Talladega Nights.
He was inducted into the IMS Hall of Fame in 2019.
Jenkins survived colon cancer in the 1980s and retired from his television work in 2012 to care for his wife Pam who was fighting her own cancer battle. She passed away in that October.
Jenkins was diagnosed with brain cancer in February this year.