September 10, 2012
 

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Talk With Father Put Massaro’s Career in Gear

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

 

By the time that Mike Massaro was 16 years old, he had a clear vision of what he hoped to do after college. He wanted to be a sports announcer. He graduated from the prestigious Emerson College in Boston with a bachelor’s of science degree in speech, but no television job.

“When I got out of college I knew everyone didn’t get a chance to do this. After I graduated, I was bartending and one day my father took me aside and said ‘look, I spent good money to send you to Emerson and I didn’t spend it for you to become a bartender. You need to get a job.’”

Massaro’s father was a crew member on Bob Garbarino’s No. 4 modified that raced weekly at the Stafford Motor Speedway and he told him to go to Stafford and volunteer to announce.

Massaro said he remembers sheepishly going up to Jackie Arute, Jr. following a drivers meeting at Stafford just before the Spring Sizzler and asking him if he could announce.

“I was nervous going up to him. I had no experience but he said ‘can you start next week?’ I was blown away.

“I learned so much working at Stafford. I learned the business side of racing from Mark Arute, (CEO of Stafford) and how a track operates, and I learned a lot working in the announcer’s booth from Jackie. I remember that Jack was telling us things that you might see on sports shows,” Massaro said from his home in Ellington, after growing up in Manchester.

Massaro worked for free as a track announcer, but then they promoted him to the paid position of public relations director, where he served the half mile oval in that capacity for three years.

It was that weekly experience working as one of the announcers at Stafford that helped propel Massaro to where he is now.

Massaro, now 42, has been employed at ESPN for the past 12 years, and to listen to the former Stafford Speedway announcer and public relations director, he would be happy to retire from there.

“I hope to retire at 65 and if I could spend the rest of my life working here, I would love that. I am doing exactly what I wanted to do and I am part of an exciting future at ESPN.”

Massaro is the host of NASCAR Now, one of the daily staples of ESPN’s auto racing programming after doing a stint back on pit road.

Massaro has also worked in racing as a reporter for MRN (Motor Racing Network) radio. He also reported for Inside NASCAR on TNN and was a pit reporter for NBC as well as TBS NASCAR races.

Massaro thought back to one of the first times he was calling a race as a reporter at Stafford and was reporting the action from turn three and how he had the Stafford announcing legends of Mike Joy and Jackie Arute, Jr. in the announcer’s tower.

“You talk about being nervous. Both these guys were doing national broadcasts and here I had to do a report from turn three and then send it back to them,” Mike said, now laughing but thinking how terrified he was at the time.

When Massaro was asked about the talent the Stafford Speedway announcers’ booth has turned out, he shakes his head.

“It really is pretty amazing.”

Mike Joy is now the lead announcer for NASCAR on FOX, while Jackie Arute, Jr. has broadcast many races, being closely associated with the Indianapolis 500, as well as doing college football and other sports for ABC. He currently is host of a college football show on satellite radio as well as doing an NFL wrap-up show on Sundays.

When asked if he prefers working in the studio in Bristol or working at the track as one of the pit road reporters, Massaro said he likes a little of both.

“I like being part of the action at the track. Being on pit road you have to be prepared for anything, where as if you are in the studio, you really don’t have any surprises. It is pretty well scripted what we are going to do.”

Growing up in the northeast and being surrounded by the NASCAR modified division and its stars, Massaro is clearly one of the series’ biggest supporters.

“The modifieds will always be my favorite division in NASCAR racing. In my opinion, they are the most exciting division in racing today.”

Massaro was recently inducted into his hometown’s sports Hall of Fame as well as being inducted into East Catholic High School’s Hall of Fame, something that he is quite proud of.

Massaro now is another of the Stafford connection to make it big as a racing announcer and he continues to build on his own legacy.

Wherever Massaro continues to go and accomplish in his career, he will always remember the talk his father gave him and how his Stafford days propelled him to do what he set out to do when he was 16.

 

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 & SpeedwayLineReport.com