Doug Rice to do ‘The Double’ behind the mic on Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – When Doug Rice was a boy growing up in Salisbury, North Carolina in the 1960s the state of Indiana may as well been on the other side of the Earth. He was a young lad in the heart of NASCAR Country where drivers named Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison were the heroes of stock car racing.
Every Memorial Day, however, Rice would listen to the legendary Sid Collins and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network call the action of the famed 500-Mile Race from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, calling action between legendary racers A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti and Bobby and Al Unser.
Kurt Busch was the last NASCAR driver to attempt “The Double” by running in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day when the 2004 Sprint Cup champion finished sixth for Andretti Autosport in last year’s Indy 500 then made it back in time for the 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
No drivers are attempting that this year, but Doug Rice is putting a unique twist on “The Double” on Sunday.
Rice will broadcast both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. The Director of Broadcasting for the Performance Radio Network will be one of the pit reporters for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network’s worldwide broadcast of the Indy 500. He will then fly to Concord, North Carolina and catch a helicopter ride to Charlotte Motor Speedway where he will be the play-by-play voice of the Coca-Cola 600 on PRN’s radio broadcast to over 400 radio affiliates.
It’s billed on social media as the #DougDouble and it’s quite a unique twist on participating in two races on the same day, only in a different capacity.
“I’ve been working with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio for about 15 years doing the Brickyard 400 and have a great relationship with them,” Rice told FOXSports.com. “I told some of those guys about five years ago that I would love to try to pull this off. I have some friends that work for Shell who called me about six months ago and said they have worked it out, if the IMS Radio people were good to go they would have transportation for me. It’s part of a new product they are pushing out.
“I said, ‘Let’s go.’ They have worked out all the logistics to get me back to Charlotte in time for the Coca-Cola 600 and IMS Radio has me on pit road so here I am.”
Rice will call the pits for Helio Castroneves early in the race and later Juan Pablo Montoya’s pits in the Indianapolis 500. As soon as the checkered flag falls at Indianapolis, he will be escorted to a private airport and then fly to Concord Regional Airport – just a few miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway. A helicopter will take him to CMS.
“I don’t get to land on the infield grass like Kurt Busch did last year,” Rice quipped.
Rice has been in the booth calling the 600 since 1993. He has been to 35 Coca-Cola 600s but this is his first Indianapolis 500.
“Even coming in here on the days leading up to the Indy 500 there is a different vibe at the race track,” Rice said. “I’ve been here for 15 Brickyard 400s but for the Indy 500 you can feel something different. The garage area is different. The fans are different. There is a lot of electricity in the air – more than when NASCAR his here.
“Everybody has told me this is going to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. One of things I like about this place is it’s steeped in tradition. They have a certain way they do everything at this track. I appreciate that. I love the way they do that. I’m looking forward to the Purdue Marching Band, the Gordon Pipers and Back Home Again in Indiana and everything that leads up to the start of the race.”
Rice’s career is in NASCAR but he does keep up with the Verizon IndyCar Series. He has studied hard for his Indy 500 assignment the past month.
Ironically, the most successful team in Indianapolis 500 history is based 35 miles from Rice’s home, as Team Penske is located in Mooresville, North Carolina. That team has won the Indianapolis 500 a record 15 times.
“I’ve been trying to learn the language a little better,” Rice said. “These are Firestone tires and not Goodyear tires so I have to remember that.”
In addition to announcing the PRN broadcasts of NASCAR races at 12 different events, Rice also runs the network.
“It’s a rewarding job,” Rice said. “I’ve done it for three decades. We have shows that are on every day of the week. There is a lot going on.”
On Sunday, he will call his first IndyCar race joining the likes of Collins and others from back in the day.
“They did great theater of the mind and I knew by listening to those guys it was huge,” Rice said. “It was a big deal.
“To see these cars at speed here blew me away. I have a new appreciation for the guys that call the Indy 500. The stock cars here are 10 seconds a lap slower. These cars are smaller and so much faster.”
Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. ET.