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Chat wrap: ABC's Jack Arute
ABC Sports Online

ABC's Jack Arute visited the chat room on Thursday to celebrate Sunday's 40th Anniversary of Wide World of Sports (ABC, 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT). He chatted with online users about his Wide World experiences, including his favorite drivers, his favorite event and the types of cars he drives himself.

paul brian Bennewitz
What for you is your favorite Wide World of Sports Moment that you covered?

Jack Arute
There are so many that it is hard to narrow it to one. But I would have to say Al Unser Jr.'s first victory at the 500 is one of the top memories. His answer "You don't know what Indy means" is to this day part of Wide World's opening montage.

What was the best race that you have covered, whether it was NASCAR, CART or at the Indy 500?

Jack Arute
Wow. Each race has its own personality and storyline. For me to choose one over the other is very difficult. I would have to put Al Unser Sr.'s fourth win at Indy right up there because Al didn't have a ride when practice for the 500 started. Winning in a Penske show car was quite a story.

How influential do you think Wide World of Sports was in gaining recognition to motorsports?

Jack Arute
A.J. Foyt
A.J. Foyt, from Houston, Texas, climbs out of his Chevrolet after grabbing the pole position here Friday, July 3, 1976, during qualifying for the Firecracker 400 auto race to be run on the 4th of July. Foyt turned in the fastest lap at 183.090 mph.
It was the most influential element. For millions of people, their introduction to motorsports came on Wide World of Sports. The other day, I was talking to A.J. Foyt specifically about this question. Foyt has always maintained that the Indy 500 is what made A.J. Foyt. But as we talked, A.J. reflected on the fact that were it not for Wide World of Sports and its coverage of the 500 and Indy cars, far fewer people would know about "Super Tex."

Jack, Which is racing's first family - Petty, Andretti or Unser?

Jack Arute
I would have to say the Unsers hands down. While Richard Petty certainly defined NASCAR racing, he, along with his father Lee, his son Kyle and late grandson Adam, would be NASCAR's first family. Michael and Mario certainly deserve consideration in the open-wheel ranks. But by sheer numbers alone, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., Bobby Unser, Robby Unser, Johnny Unser and Jerry Unser have all left their mark at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (not to mention Pikes Peak).

I've heard you race when not broadcasting. What type of cars?

Jack Arute
They are called mini-sprints. Basically, they are a full-sized midget that uses a motorcycle engine. My class is a 1200cc liquid Suzuki powerplant that puts out a 140 horsepower. I race at a 1/4-mile dirt track in Westfield, Mass. called Whip City Speedway.

My season opens Saturday, May 5. Then after the race, I will be off to Indy. If you want a look at the cars, go to

Which part of the WWOS special besides the racing will you look forward to watching?

Jack Arute
I have always loved boxing and thoroughbred racing. So those two anniversary segments will have my complete attention. Muhammad Ali is one of my all-time heroes. And the Kentucky Derby is the one event I hope to someday to cover.

bob o. link
What drivers that you've covered on Wide World stand out the most?

Jack Arute
A.J. Foyt. He is, without question, the greatest race car driver to have ever lived. He is also in a irascible individual. From beating on the suspension of his car with a hammer to tearfully welcoming Kenny Brack to Indy's Victory Lane, A.J. Foyt has done it all, won it all and is the ultimate racing personality.

Funny man
So much of Wide World of Sports had to do with Keith Jackson. From working with him for so long, can you do his voice?

Jack Arute
I have a lot of fun with Keith's woe Nelly and FUMBLE. But seriously, you may or may not know that Keith Jackson was selected last week as a 2001 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, an honor long overdue for Mr. Football.

How did you get involved calling some of the stranger sports in your time, like dogsledding and Outdooor Games contests?

Jack Arute
I have always enjoyed obscure sports. To me, the common thread in all athletic endeavors is the mental frame of mind that an athlete must put himself in order to excel. The folks at ABC have been very generous in their assignments and it has left me with assorted wonderful memories.

Do you reflect on your work with Wide World of Sports and feel as though you were a part of history?

Jack Arute
Absolutely. The most thrilling moment in my career came the first day that I did a Wide World of Sports segment from Rossburg, Ohio at the famed Eldora Speedway. Al Michaels was the host of the USAC Sprint Car races on Eldora's half-mile dirt and I was the pit announcer. When they handed me the yellow blazer with that Wide World of Sports embroidered logo, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Jack, What is your most memorable Dale Earnhardt moment?

Jack Arute
Having been fortunate enough to know Dale before he became a superstar and to have shared with Dale his feelings about his father Ralph are moments that I will cherish forever.

In theory, IROC should be the end-all-be-all race. How come it isn't?

Jack Arute
Because it is has become a NASCAR dominated series. The use of fendered cars on superspeedways gives a decided edge to the NASCAR drivers. When IROC was first conceived, it took drivers from multiple disciplines and put them in race cars (Porsches) that they did not drive on a regular basis. As long as there were road courses in the IROC event mix, non-NASCAR drivers had a better opportunity to win, but with the new schedule and selected tracks, it is a NASCAR parade and drivers from other disciplines have the deck stacked against them.

Jack, too me F1 is the major league of racing. Do you feel the IRL/CART drivers are just as talented?

Jack Arute
In their respected disciplines, yes. Make no mistake, however, on the global stage, Formula One surpasses all other forms of auto racing. By the way, it's a lot bigger than the NFL, the NBA and yes, even major league baseball, in every other country except the United States.

Do those stupid looking wind panels on top of your midget racer actually help corner or are they just there for looks?

Jack Arute
They create downforce. Joe, you may think they look stupid looking, but when you are hauling your fanny into a corner, it's nice to know that wing is there to keep the wheels on the ground.

Tim from Miami
What, as a sportscaster, was the most exciting event you got to work on?

Jack Arute
The Iditarod Sled Dog Race will always be No. 1 in my mind. Traveling the entire trail from check point to check point with the mushers and their dogs was something I will never forget.

A close second would have to be our Wide World of Sports Baja 1000 special, where I rode with Frank Scoop Vessels. We were in first place with less than 60 miles to go when a wheel baring failed. I know what the agony of defeat feels like.

Funny man
Is it easier to prepare for one of your radio programs than for a race or a football game?

Jack Arute
Football is the most difficult and demanding. After spending most of my broadcast career communicating in 24 seconds or less, having 3-4 hours on the radio is like winning the lottery.

That's all I have time for today. Thanks for the questions.

You can join me weekly on ESPN Radio from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays on my post-game locker room show. Just don't trip over the socks on the way in.  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
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