The truth about Bob

Bob Pockrass won’t be covering motorsports for ESPN after this season, a revelation that should set off alarm bells for anyone who cares about NASCAR.

It’s not so much about ESPN. Though it’s scary to see another major news outlet step back from racing, that alone won’t have much impact on NASCAR’s current fans.

What would have an impact, though, is losing Bob. His future at the moment is unclear, and it’s possible he could remain on the NASCAR beat should another employer come along to scoop him up.

Let’s hope that happens, because if this season was the final one with Bob at the racetrack, we’re all going to be worse for it.

I’ve been dreading the prospect of a Bob-less media center for years, but I always thought it would be because he keeled over after working himself to death — not because an employer willingly let him go.

Bob’s work ethic goes beyond the hours spent at the track, which are well-documented. A relentless journalism machine, Bob’s mind rarely takes a break from the job.

Here’s one small example: Back when we were co-workers at NASCAR Scene, Bob would spend his one day off per week by going to the county courthouse to search the names of every driver and team to make sure a story hadn’t fallen through the cracks. Even now, if you look over at his computer screen during downtime at the track, he’s often doing a search of court records.

Bob seems to know everyone in the garage, from the top Cup drivers to backmarker Xfinity owners. He’s always checking in and asking for information (“Anything new with you guys?”), which means even the most minor stories rarely catch him by surprise. As such, people seek him out in the NASCAR garage and start conversations with, “What do you know, Bob?”

Even in the media center — aside from often asking the tough questions that need to be asked — Bob is seen as a source of information. If someone can’t remember a NASCAR rule or procedure, they ask Bob. There have even been times when crew chiefs ask him for clarification (“Does this mean we have to start at the back, Bob?”). And he always knows.

Those are just a couple reasons why NASCAR stands to lose so much without Bob on the beat. It’s not a knock against other reporters, but no one obsesses over the nitty gritty details of the sport quite like he does. And when you think about it, those smaller details (pit stall selection, for example) add up to feed the passion of NASCAR’s most hardcore fans.

Bob’s dedication to his work has seemed borderline unhealthy at times to friends, who have tried at times to stage interventions. Take a break, Bob! Relax! But attempting to get him to do less is like trying to snatch a juicy steak from the jaws of a pit bull. His extreme sense of duty to inform readers — you’ve seen this through his Twitter interactions — cannot be matched.

One of the most recent arguments, a negotiation that began months ago, is what Bob would be willing to do for his 50th birthday next year. It’s on March 1, and NASCAR will be in Las Vegas — a perfect place to celebrate with a dinner. The only problem is it’s the same night as a Truck Series race, and Bob has indicated he’d rather not leave the track.

Because of his dedication, Bob has become the backbone of the NASCAR media over the years. He’d never say that himself, and he’s probably going to be pissed at this column putting him in the spotlight. There’s no ego or self-promotion when it comes to Bob. But whether he acknowledges it or not, Bob has been the best on the NASCAR beat.

Fortunately for Bob, his skills can apply to any form of journalism. There’s no substitute for hustle, and I’m certain he won’t have trouble finding another job (even ESPN would be wise to retain him in a different capacity). I know he’s going to be just fine.

Selfishly, though, I hope Bob stays in NASCAR. We will all be less informed and less knowledgeable if 2018 turns out to be his final lap.

31 Replies to “The truth about Bob”

  1. I totally agree Jeff. Over the years, I have always used Bob to make sure other sources weren’t fluffing stories. Bob is a cool guy, Met him at Kansas a few years ago. definitely wouldn’t be the same without Bob on the scene.

  2. Well said Jeff. Bob, you, Weaver and Jenna are the reason I still stay connected to what is going on in NASCAR. Just seeing the outpouring support towards Bob from drivers of all divisions, crew chiefs, and fans goes to show the value, respect, and importance Bob has with the NASCAR media. Selfishly I hope he does not join The Athletic, but I can see him fitting in there.

  3. The ultimate proof of what you say is that during the Phoenix race Samantha Busch sent a tweet to Bob asking if they were now locked into the final 4. She’s could of checked with anyone at JGR but she knew Bob would be right.

  4. 100% agree. Bob is the one fans go to for rule answer, post race inspection results, tear down results and so much more.

    Bob is the one that when I am listening to the media center post race, I look forward to his question as I k ow it will be one that others haven’t thought about.

    I hope someone picked him up. NBC, FOX or maybe he becomes his own like you did Jeff. He needs the sport more then the sport needs him.

  5. Great column, Jeff.
    On the lighter side, though: I just want somebody to look at me the way you’re looking at Bob in that photo!

  6. Well, I am shocked, and heartbroken! He is the 2nd go-to guy ( you’re 1st) that I look up for information. Both of you just seem to know what the fans are curious about, and you ask the questions we wish we could ask. I am so sorry, and someone would be foolish to not snatch him up!

  7. NASCAR should hire him as head PR person, he’s the only one I trust for detailed info.

  8. NASCAR itself would do well to hire Bob. He is their best promoter on Twitter for sure and the race viewing community could certainly benefit from Bob’s input. TV does not cover “the whole race” as well as Bob does.

  9. A lot of the ESPN folks are politicizing their broadcasts and Bob is so “not my business” that everyone can sit down and listen or read what he has to say. I really like this because I can focus on the racing and maybe learn something.

  10. So sad that the ‘shrinking’ of Nascar has included so many good journalists. It would be a shame of no one takes advantage of his knowledge and expertise. He would be sorely missed.

  11. Summed it up perfectly. I cannot imagine going thru a NASCAR year without his knowledge that’s shared in his articles and tweets.

  12. Jeff I have been a very long time fan of Bob, I don’t need to be told the truth. I always worried about him at ESPN given their lack luster coverage. His twitter account is a must everyday. I know Bob knows. He engages the public and often wondered how he does it. He is absolutely the best (no knock on you but you can’t keep up with him). My goodness if someone doesn’t pick him up it is insane. No offense to the folks at USAToday, but that would be a great pick. I think he could replace the entire staff. Not any of the networks, he would get censored. Some place that would remain as an independent voice. He isn’t a “writer” but a journalist. I will follow him where ever he goes.
    Selfish question: What is going to happen to Jayski now?

  13. Haven’t commented in a while, but I’m really sad to hear this. Bob is my go-to on raceday — nobody sweats the details like Bob does. Rain delay? Bob’s watching the jet dryers, giving the non-TV opinion on the real green flag time. Scuffle in the garage? Bob’s giving you the real version. Cheers to you, Jeff, for a great season of coverage — congrats on your new addition to the family, thanks for the long hours and countless miles — and I really hope Bob finds a new home in 2019. NASCAR needs him, the fans need him — and this fan needs him. Wouldn’t be Sunday morning without his insight. Hope everybody has a great Christmas.

  14. Damn I’m gonna miss bot pockrass tweets too not just Bob’ i hope somebody like USA Today or some other media org gives Bob a gig.. the dude earned the respect of all the teams drivers owners in all 3 series of nascar and that takes years of hard work.. not a job for some newbie cub reporter to take over for ESPN if they decide to continue reporting on nascar

  15. Love Bob! He’s definitely a NASCAR treasure but for career purposes, I hope he moves on to something more stable than NASCAR. The signs are all here and everyone connected to NASCAR is in denial, Bob would be better off taking his skills to a more prosperous entity.

  16. Jeff, thank you for this. You affirmed all my suspicions about Bob Pockrass. He truly is the NASCAR news pit bull we all suspected. And that’s why he’s so good.

    1. Totally agree. He will move on to do great things, whether in NASCAR or otherwise. His work ethic is unrivaled. Miss working with both of you. You too, Glucker.

  17. What everyone’s saying is so true. On those late night qualifying inspections you could depend on Bob keeping us up to date who was good and who would be starting in the back. He answered several questions I had at various times throughout the season. So I never would’ve dreamed Bob would be out of a job. What doesn’t surprise me is ESPN ditching more coverage of NASCAR. I hated it when they had the final races of the season, they couldn’t get off the air quick enough after a race. And their daily show NASCAR Now when from an evening program to a 1 or 2 am show that disappeared in the blink of an eye. Oh and just so you don’t get the wrong idea I’m not talking about the analyst, they were wonderful. It was those who run the network. #ESPN #IdiotsOfTheCentury

  18. The tweetup on race morning with Bob and you are my race day staple when at the track. Bob is a wonderful asset to the entire NASCAR family. Let’s pray another employer steps up to the plate soon!

  19. There have been so many times Bob has brought up stats or other items I wouldn’t have thought of. He needs to be in NASCAR.

  20. I never thought for a minute that when I saw Bob in Kansas in October at the tweet up that it would be my last. I can’t imagine a race weekend without him or his insight. Jeff you are a good friend and man. You put into words how the rest of us feel. I really hope someone picks him up.

  21. Bob is an incredible reporter and, frankly, should have an investigative gig at a major outlet somewhere. I do hope it’s his last lap because I think he can serve readers (us) in far more significant ways. Seeing some people comment that he should go work for Nascar or the utterly useless USA Today … ugh.

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