Jenkins was one of the first on-air employees of ESPN when it launched in 1979. For more than 20 years, he was the lead voice of NASCAR races for ESPN and occasionally ABC, including the first seven Brickyard 400s at IMS. His pairing with former stock car drivers Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons became one of the popular trios in motorsports broadcasting history.
If there was a form of motorsports on U.S. television, Jenkins likely was involved with it at some point in his career.
Along with his NASCAR and IMS work, Jenkins anchored for the Indianapolis-based company that produced ESPN’s popular “Thunder” series broadcasts of USAC Sprint Car and Midget series races, and he was the host of “SpeedWeek” on ESPN.
Jenkins’ voice was used in several motorsports video games and films, including NASCAR-centric “Days of Thunder” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”
Jenkins was a colon cancer survivor in the 1980s and retired from television in 2012 to care for his wife, Pam, who had her own cancer battle. She died that October. In February 2021, Jenkins revealed he had been diagnosed with two malignant tumors behind his right temple following a severe headache on Christmas night.