Popular NASCAR broadcaster and analyst Randy Pemberton passed away unexpectedly Friday night. He was 62.
Brother of former Cup Series VP of competition Robin Pemberton and JRM competition director Ryan Pemberton, Randy leaned into the media aspects of the sport, gaining immense popularity in the 1990’s Winston Cup era. The native New Yorker first gained an audience as the voice of Inside Winston Cup Racing on TNN. He also hosted a call-in show where racing fans could contribute live to the broadcast, similar to radio formats.
NASCAR writer Deb Williams first broke the news via social media. Analysts from FOX then confirmed the news during pre-race broadcasting from the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol over the weekend. Many other NASCAR media members, officials, and fans also weighed in on the news of Randy Pemberton’s passing. To many, he will be remembered as a passionate lover of racing that made the sport more accessible to fans. He also inspired many broadcasters to pursue the sport as a viable career path for their talents.
Pemberton made career pit stops at CBS, TNN, and TBS before ultimately landing with the SPEED channel in 2008. In an interview with the New York Daily News, he said the thing that kept him coming back was the dedication the teams showed each season.
“[There’s a] sense that every one of these people that is contributing to the sport, they’re doing everything they can,” he said.
Darrell Waltrip came out of retirement to call the race last night in Bristol
In other NASCAR broadcasting news, Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip came out of retirement to call the Food City Dirt Race in Bristol last night.
Waltrip, 75, who hails from Middle Tennessee himself, retired in 2019 after 19 years as one of NASCAR’s most popular broadcasters. He returned as a guest analyst on FOX alongside former colleague Mike Joy and analyst Clint Bowyer for the novel dirt race. NASCAR had not run on dirt for over 50 years until last season when the league brought the spectacle back.
“I’m thrilled to have the chance to drop in and call the Bristol Dirt Race,” said Waltrip, who has 12 victories at Bristol, ahead of the race. “When FOX first asked me, I was super excited because Bristol is, by far, my favorite track. If I could pick just one race to call, it would be Bristol. The track is honoring Easter with a special celebration service, and we’ll top it off with a great race that evening.”
Waltrip also said he was looking forward to call this race, in particular, because of the special track. “I won a few dirt races early in my career before they did away with the dirt track near me; and I [announced] the ‘Prelude to the Dream’ races at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway,” he said.
NASCAR veteran Kyle Busch won the dirt race at Bristol last night in a wild finish.