June 4, 2012
 

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Broadcaster Arute got his start in New Britain

By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press

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Jack Arute has been known as a lot of names since his days as a youngster growing up in New Britain. There was Little Jack, Jackie, Jack, Jr, and now just Jack Arute, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is his hectic schedule and work load.

Arute began his network broadcasting career with ABC sports and ESPN in 1984. He served as one of the voices of NASCAR racing for MRN Radio, the Motor Racing Network from 1972 to 1980.

Today, Arute can be heard on Sirius Satellite Radio serving as host of a college football show daily and then Sunday’s doing the NFL Rewind show.

For years, Arute was part of the Indy 500 coverage but sadly for viewers no longer is, and when asked why he is not connected with Indy racing today, where he literally became known as one of the television voices of the Indy 500 he replied, “I wish I still was but they decided to go into another direction.”

Nobody today may know more about the Indy 500 and Indy car racing than Arute.

Arute began his broadcasting days at his father’s Stafford Motor Speedway as he was track announcer along with current FOX racing announcer, Mike Joy.

“I was on the air with ABC for 29 years doing Indy racing, college football sideline reporter as well as working several Olympics.” Arute said after finishing his radio show recently.

Arute will always have a special place in his heart for Indy racing, but he fears the sport has been left behind instead of trying to stay current or move ahead.

“They have spent too much time trying to recapture the past. You can’t go back, you can only look to the future. They are making several of the same mistakes that CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) made,” he said.

CART and the Indy Racing League (IRL) were two separate Indy-style organizations fighting for control and today Indy Car racing, the former IRL, is the lone open wheel promoter.

“They need to entice new fans to watch Indy car racing. They still think all they have to do is recapture the CART fans of the past and they will be all right. Those fans have moved on to other things,” Arute said.

Today the Indianapolis 500 is Indy Car racing’s biggest event both nationally and worldwide, and while it still draws 350,000 fans at the track on race day, and millions more on television and radio, the race itself isn’t what it once was.

There are less Americans in Indy racing, more street courses than oval tracks, which NASCAR runs on, and a lack of interest in the sport which once was the dominate force in American auto racing, especially in the 1960’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

NASCAR has since taken over that niche but Arute wonders with the astronomical cost of racing if NASCAR isn’t heading for trouble.

“I don’t know if Richard Petty or Tony Stewart would make it today in racing if they were starting out because of the cost. Back then, if you had talent you could get a ride and work your way up, but now you have to bring a ton of money or a sponsorship program to get in,” Arute said. “Where is the next Jeff Gordon or Joey Logano coming from? NASCAR had a minor league with the local race tracks across the country but now they are pushing the K&N series as the next place to watch the future stars of NASCAR.”

Besides his radio shows, he continues to serve as president of the Stafford Motor Speedway which runs weekly Friday night modified racing, along with other support divisions.

“My brother Mark and his wife Lisa do a great job of running the day to day operations of the speedway and I like my role of just walking around the pit area and talking with people,” Arute said.

Arute has always had an opinion and he would let it be known, whether it was about the state of auto racing or the confusion of the college football system. It has sometimes gotten him into hot water, but also makes him a person you would want to talk with and listen to.

When Arute retires, and he shows no sign of that, his resume will show he worked as a vice president in charge of communications for the Charlotte Motor Speedway, manager of a public relations firm, Vice President and General Manager for Junior Johnson and Associates as well as running his own public relations company. He also is an author of “Jack Arute’s Tales from the Indy 500.”

“I am really happy with that,” he said. “It is now going into its third printing and includes everything through last year’s Indy race.”

Arute is as comfortable talking about the status of short track racing to the short comings of the NASCAR Whelen modified tour, Indy Car racing, NASCAR and college football, but it was his humble beginnings in the Hardware City that gave this worldwide-known broadcaster his start.

 

Brian Danko has been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines & and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column can be seen "In The Print Editions" of  The New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.

 

Copyright © 2012 Brian Danko