MOORESVILLE, NC (July 30, 2018) - A large contingent of race fans know Hickory Motor Speedway has launched the careers of multiple NASCAR champions and even their crew chiefs and mechanics. Few realized Hickory Motor Speedway was the stomping ground for years of Dr. Jerry Punch, a beloved analyst and pit reporter for ESPN's motorsports coverage since 1984.
Punch will be returning to Hickory for the Throwback 276 as part of a legendary group of personalities who will be available to greet fans during a 6pm on-track fan fest and autograph session. He will be joining Bobby and Donnie Allison, Hut Stricklin, Robert Pressley, Hut Stricklin, multi-time NASCAR Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., and former Punch colleague at ESPN and two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Randy LaJoie.
"My grandfather worked the fourth-turn gate, and my grandmother would make pimiento sandwiches," Punch told the Hickory Daily Record in a 2011 feature article. "I watched Richard and Lee Petty race there. That was special for so many years, watching legends race. I saw Sam Ard, Butch Lindley, so many great drivers, Harry Gant."
A fact known by few fans, Punch at one time was a racer at the famed .363-mile oval and other area tracks. Once things intensified during his medical school years, he gave up the helmet and soon picked up a microphone. His first big-league broadcast came in 1980 for the Motor Racing Network, and he joined fledgling upstart ESPN fulltime in 1984 as they used motorsports to help grow the new company.
Punch continued to be a household name and grew to be loved by race fans as well as college football diehards once he also joined ESPN's college football telecasts as a sideline reporter. Although he has scaled back some of his national-level broadcasts, he is still actively involved with various regional and local broadcast groups, enjoys an active speaking career, and has continued his relationship with ESPN up until the present-day. Recently, Dr. Punch worked the pits for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 as part of ABC/ESPN's coverage of the iconic event.
"We're honored to have Dr. Punch join us for the Throwback 276," said Chris Ragle, Director of Operations for the CARS Response Energy Tour. "Sometimes we all focus on drivers and crew chiefs, but media members like Dr. Punch are just as important to the history of the sport and, in some cases, have helped to shape it more than the personalities behind the wheels and wrenches. The graciousness of legends like Dr. Punch to join us at this event once again showcases the importance of short track racing to this sport at all levels."
Discounted advance tickets for the Throwback 276 weekend are available through the series website at CARSRacingTour.com. Single and two-day tickets are available, plus the Throwback 276 Mega Pack which includes pit passes, grandstand admission, a t-shirt, hat and commemorative poster.
Displaced fans unable to make the event in person can catch every lap of the action LIVE at www.carstour.tv in a TV-style, multi-camera broadcast produced by series partner Pit Row Media. A tape-delayed, condensed version of the late model stock race will also air in September as part of Suzuki presents SPEED SPORT on MAVTV.
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at www.carsracingtour.com. Fresh content and updates can also be found on the series Facebook page (@carstour), Twitter (@carstour), Instagram (@cars_tour), Snapchat (@carstour) and Youtube channel (/carstour). The series Roku app is also available for installation to see live and on-demand events by following the instructions available at www.carstour.tv.