When It Comes to Broadcasting ESPN's Marty Reid Has Seen and Done It All

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer ISeptember 14, 2009

For race fans there is nothing like experiencing the rush of 43 stock cars roaring past you. Being in the middle of a rainbow of colors amongst fellow fans supporting their heroes. Smelling the burnt rubber, feeling your throat swell from cheering, and enjoying the overpriced food and beverages. 

For fans not in the middle of it all, they will be in their living room, bar or wherever, expecting to be just as pumped up and clued to the racing as their grandstand counterparts. They want to enjoy their Saturday night or Sunday too.

During a race weekend fans are quick to point out everything they don't like with the broadcasts for whichever reason. But one thing that's guaranteed to be heard is that the broadcasters aren't exciting. Fans get very angry when they have to listen to someone that doesn't seem to be into the racing like they are. 

Frequent viewers of the Nationwide Series should be familiar with play-by-play broadcaster Marty Reid and his emphatic "We are green!" at the beginning of each race. But before he is able to get the fans pumped up and to calling the start, he needs to get through a grueling week of preparation. 

"Individually it takes about 30 total hours to get to the race weekend. It starts with the Tuesday conference call, then you're on the web pages that feed you information which basically outlines every driver, every race, all the results and we go through this stuff," he says. "What we try to do is sort what's really going to be relevant to the race weekend."

From there Reid and his colleagues have access to touch screens which enables them to be anywhere in the country and still allowed to download whatever information they need. 

By the time they hit the track they don't need paperwork, they have all they need stored in memory. That leaves time for meetings with drivers, crews, and crew chiefs, where afterward "you sit with your colleagues because they've basically done the same thing, you trade notes, you make sure you dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's and then you get in the booth and go." 

Reid has worked for ESPN in many different areas for about 27 years and every weekend when taking to the booth he takes his passion and excitement for sports with him. 

"Well, I think that if I'm not excited about it, why should the viewer at home be excited?" He asks. "I love what I do, I mean to me when people ask me what my job is I tell them it's travel because once I'm at the race location I'm doing what I love... I think you have to be passionate about it no matter what sport you're doing."

Something that Kyle Busch has been doing in the Nationwide Series in 2009 is dominating and during those races when the action seems to be follow the leader, it's up to the broadcasters to have the viewers continue to stay tuned into the race. 

Reid admits that not all races are going to be as exciting as we would like them, but he feels he has the right idea on how to keep the fans interested. 

"I pull [baseball broadcaster] Vin Scully in mind, when I'm thinking along that line because in baseball a great deal of a baseball game is basically really slow and it's the story-telling that makes it interesting," he believes. "And I think nobody's better at it than Scully, so the only difference is we still have cars zooming around the track at 200 miles an hour, so you have to find that balance of updating 43 individual stories."


There have been plenty thus far in the season and still more to unfold over this final ten weeks before crowning a champion and heading for the off-season. One that has continued to stand out and has been the center of much discussion is the topic of start-and-park teams. Recently ESPN's Ray Evernham and Rusty Wallace called them a slap in the face and expressed how they don't like how they operate. 

Some fans don't believe that it should be announced during a race when a start-and-park driver goes behind the wall, but Reid made the personal decision that he was not going to let them slide past unnoticed. 

"I saw the trend developing first half of the season, getting bigger and bigger and what really distressed me about the situation was the guys like Morgan Shepherd who are trying to run a legitimate race operation and are setting their cars up for qualifying and then setting it up for the race," he says.

"And then here comes these guys that are just setting up for qualifying and the car won't handle at all during the race because they don't plan on racing past four, five, six laps at most."

Even though is has been frustrating to watch, Reid does point out that the rules in place don't say that the start-and-park teams are doing any wrong but he continues with, "I think for the fan who really cares and wants to see the guys [full-time drivers] that are racing race, it's the right thing for us to do to call these other guys [start-and-parks] out." 

A broadcasters job though doesn't end when the checkered flag flies and the camera stops rolling. Time for reviewing their performance and preparing for the next weekend will come in the following days, but for Reid, just like a race car driver, it takes him a couple of hours to unwind. 

Once all is said and done with one series for a weekend, you might find his voiced connected to another series that is racing on ESPN. Each series and broadcast may bring a different type of racing but that in no way means Reid will be changing anything he does.

"Well you know, I've always said this and it's the truth, the most important show I'm on is the one I'm doing this week," he says.

Every broadcast he is a part of he is going to bring 100 percent of what he has and give his all to the fans. 

All sports revolve around their fans, no sport can survive without fans and Reid knows that and wants to make sure that no only are the fans as excited he is, but that they are being taken care of in each broadcast. 

"I don't think you can cheat the audience," he reveals. "Because they see through that and you lose them. I think if you commit to the event and to the broadcast, eventually you win an awful lot of those people over to your side because they realize that you're dedicated to it." 

His dedication to sports has opened up many doors for his broadcasting duties. "I enjoy anything that's got wheels and a motor and that's why I have had so much fun over the 27 years because I've literally done everything we've ever had on the air with ESPN and that's a fun thing." 

When the time comes for Reid to look back at all that he's done and the fun he's had over his career, he knows that his voice will be connected to some historic moments in motorsports history. One that stands out is with a driver that is currently making headlines because of a possible move to NASCAR.

"Calling Danica Patrick's first win... When we were calling the race, Scott Goodyear and I, we were getting ready to do a race that Sunday, the Cart finale at Long Beach, so we were calling the [Twin Ring] Motegi race from our play-by-play booth in Long Beach and we were not even on location," he recalls. 

"I'll tell ya, there was this moment when she's on the last lap and she goes past the slowing Helio Castroneves, where you have this flash in your mind that this is going to live a lot longer than you and that piece of tape will be there forever and you don't want to screw it up," he chuckles. 

Reid called Danica home with "Boys move over, the lady is coming through. Danica Patrick wins at Twin Ring Motegi!" Any upcoming broadcaster should listen to that piece of video to learn how to perfect calling a driver to the victory with just as much enthusiasm. 

It's just one of the many times that Reid has done so 

"Whenever NHRA fans will look back to John Force's 100th win, it's my voice making the call, it's those pieces of tape that are going to live a long, long time that you wanna make sure that you've done a good job or given it your best call."

Marty Reid is far from done making the calls that will go down in history.