Johnny Gibson has been the series announcer for the World of Outlaws sprint car tour for 20 years, though that was never his goal. “I wanted be a rock star on MTV!” he says fondly. “My dad took me to races for as long as I can remember. When I was twelve I saw the World of Outlaws for the first time.” That was all it took for Johnny to become fully hooked on racing. Johnny unknowingly started his career with the Outlaws by walking through the stands selling programs. He started meeting the personnel in the series and started helping out with the TV broadcast. “I would do anything they needed.” He said. That is when he met Bobby Gerold, who worked on the broadcast for the sprint car tour. “He had me come up into the booth during one of the races to interview me.” Knowing all the regular cars and drivers, Johnny was an expert on this series and sprint car racing. Gerold offered the mic over to Johnny and encouraged him to call one of the heat races. “The next week,” said Johnny, “I was offered the job to be the series announcer… I was at the right place at the right time.”
A longstanding professional in the field, Johnny has been to over 380 racetracks around the world. “Every off-season for the last ten years I have gone over to call races in Australia.” His favorite events however, are ones that sprint car fans dream of attending every year. “I work the Knoxville Nationals, Kings Royal, Williams Grove and others. It is all great to be a part of! I have the real good fortune of working with the best. ” His average work night out at the racetrack is a long one. “It is normally a twelve hour workday. The races go at like 7 or 8, I set up the equipment and walk around the pits talking to people beforehand. I take notes on sponsors and drivers. After the broadcast and everything is over it takes about an hour to take it all down… I like doing my driving at night so I just roll onto the next venue. I might get there at 4 AM, sleep until 11 then start all over.”
When asked what makes Johnny successful at his job he responds: “I always took notes at the track. That helped.” He also recommends doing extensive homework on the drivers and facilities before race night. “Most of my job is putting hours in away from the track.” His advice to others that want to be a professional sports announcer is, “Do your homework. You can never be too prepared. Also having a touch of ADD helps. It lets me focus on all the things that are happening on the track at once.”
This September Johnny and the World of Outlaw Tour will be coming through the Pacific Northwest. Check out their schedule or tune in to hear Johnny in the announcing booth at http://www.woosprint.com/.