All too often in sports we get boring interviews from interviewers who seem to exhibit about a thousand times more personality than the interviewees. Sadly, IndyCar racing is no different, as there are not nearly enough drivers who do not display the unbridled exuberance of Helio Castroneves or the blunt candor of A.J. Foyt.
At least there are still characters like Jack Arute – technically Jack Arute, Jr – who like Chris Economaki before him has served as an entertaining and informative commentator for IndyCar racing. (He also covers many other sports, but this is a site about the IRL and we don’t want to lose too much focus.)
Often insightful, occasionally dramatic, and sometimes downright confusing, Jack is always there on raceday and always seems to be having a great time. And when he isn't handging with Jamie and Jerry he keeps busy with other interests such as TV production, writing and running a family owned race track. So it is with great pride that we welcome Jack Arute to the My Name Is IRL arena of Five Quick Questions.
“Let’s go down to Jack Arute…”
1. Do you still race modified sprint cars, and if so where and how often? Has Dr. Jerry Punch cleared you for racing and do you bring him a long just in case something happens?
Yes, I still dabble at it. I race mostly Mini-Sprints (1200 and 750) at Whip City Speedway in Westfield, MA. Due to my ABC/ESPN commitments along with my USAC THUNDER duties (I produce THUNDER for the Outdoor Channel with my production company - TAG TV - as well as doing the play-by-play) I have only been able to race three times this summer. I finshed 3rd, 5th and had 1 DNF when I got caught up in a Lap 1 crash.
No, I don’t bring Jerry. Jerry once removed a cyst from my head and when it came time to close the wound he told me that page in the manual was torn out! - LOL
2. Recently Ashley Judd made a comment – live, and on the air – about her sister urinating on a guitar. What is the most shocking or surprising comment you’ve had made to you in the course of an interview?
She didn’t make that comment to me. It was to Jerry. I thought it was very humorous and enjoyed it. Too many people take too much too seriously so a little laughter is good for all.
3. I read the Iditarod is your favorite sporting event to cover. Is that correct? It seems like a lot of bad weather and you can’t effectively interview the dogs. What is the appeal for you?
Yes it is. I covered it for 5 years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Lots of snow – very cold. But that’s part of the challenge. I traveled the entire 1,000 miles of the trail and interviewed the mushers. I think it is the last true sporting event. No PR handlers or corporate types, just genuine folks doing something that is very challenging.
4. Everybody knows about the accomplishments of Foyt, the Andrettis, and the Unsers. Given all the Indycar racing you have covered over the years, who would you say are the most underrated or unheralded drivers?
Gary Bettenhausen immediately comes to mind, as well as Sarah Fisher. GB never had lady luck on his side yet he always was fast. Sarah still holds the track qualifying record at Kentucky and still is the highest finishing woman in IndyCar history – 2nd at Homestead.
5. The cutaway car thing you use is pretty cool, but is this the result some kind of joke the Andretti Green drivers played on their former teammate, Dan Wheldon? Did someone really authorize taking a Sawsall to that Target/Ganassi car? What’s the story there?
Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull masterminded the cutaway car. We went to them looking for something we could use to help illustrate things on the car. If the AGR Knuckleheads had done it they would have sawed it in half at the cockpit. – LOL
So there you have it straight from the man with the tan: Dr. Punch is literally a cut-up, the Iditarod rocks and the AGR drivers are a bunch of “knuckleheads”. Did I say something earlier about candor? To quote Spiderman from this weekend, "Now that's what I am talking about!"
All thanks again to Jack for the extremely quick responses, and continued success with all his racing careers. Maybe one day unaffiliated IndyCar reporters like me will be able to compare notes with you at the track. Until then, watch out for those AGR guys.
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