Sam Hornish Jr, the next James Earl Jones

Posted by Iannucci | 9/16/2008 | 17 comments »
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Clearly feeling the financial pinch of a struggling stock car career, the three-time IndyCar series champion will soon be moonlighting in a different racing series. As a voiceover.

HIT Entertainment will launch Roary the Racing Car, a preschool CGI/stop-motion series from Chapman Entertainment, in the U.S. on PBS KIDS Sprout on October 13.

Roary the Racing Car follows the adventures of Roary, a bright and energetic single-seater, and his group of racecar friends at the Silver Hatch racetrack. Roary’s enthusiasm and curiosity often leads him into trouble, but he’s always willing to make things right.

The series uses a combination of CGI, stop-frame animation and colorful sets to convey a sense of speed. Sam Hornish Jr., one of the most successful drivers in open-wheel racing, makes his animation and preschool television debut as the voice of the narrator in the series.

“Sprout is the perfect television home for Roary the Racing Car, and we are thrilled that Sam Hornish Jr. was able to lend his voice talent to this production,” said Claudia Scott-Hansen, the VP of U.S. content distribution at HIT Entertainment. “This series is fun, energetic and filled with positive messaging. Through the characters and their adventures it encourages teamwork, confidence and follow-through. We are sure that Roary will be just as loved in the U.S. as he is overseas.”

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Red Orbit reports that Sam is pretty stoked.

"As a brand-new dad and a career race car driver, I was really excited when I was approached by Chapman Entertainment to be a part of this production," said Sam Hornish Jr. "Not only is Roary the Racing Car a top- quality show that I am proud to be a part of, but it perfectly marries my personal and professional life, and I can't wait to share it with my daughter when she gets a bit older!"

There’s nothing wrong with starting the kids with a steady diet of auto racing at an early age, especially with characters bearing names like “Flash”, “Zippee”, and “Tin Top” – the latter of whom spouts a catchphrase of "Tape me up, hammer me in and send me out!" Friends, that is a profound message that can serve children well for the entirety of their lives.


  1. Anonymous // September 16, 2008 1:35 PM  

    Cool! I assume this is an American version of the British series, which is narrated by Sir Stirling Moss.

  2. Anonymous // September 16, 2008 2:01 PM  

    Of course, they picked the guy with the dullest possible voice outside of Reid Sorenson to do the voiceover... I like Sam and all, but inflection wasn't part of his gene code.

  3. Iannucci // September 16, 2008 2:06 PM  

    Yaumb, I take it you haven't heard Matt Kenseth speak.

  4. The American Mutt // September 16, 2008 2:28 PM  


    You beat me to the punch.


    WHY do YOU know what Kenseth sounds like? Are you moonlighting on us?

    As awesome as this is...Sam? Really? Why not get Scott Sharp?

  5. Iannucci // September 16, 2008 2:42 PM  

    I've never said I watch ONLY IndyCar races. In fact, in 2006 and 2007 I wrote about my experiences at the local N-Word events.

    I've also been to a quarter midget track in the last year, although I've spared my loyal readership the details of those festivities.

  6. Anonymous // September 16, 2008 4:04 PM  


    There was a money commet on 2006...sniff sniff...he's still a little missed on this end...

  7. Anonymous // September 16, 2008 6:19 PM  

    Roary the single-seat, open-wheel racing car with headlamps/eyes? Would've been appropriate to get Scott Pruett, who had co-authored a kids' book about race cars.

  8. Unknown // September 16, 2008 6:24 PM  

    I just read Scott Pruett's "Racing through the Alphabet" to my four year old boy. I am pretty sure this was Scott's (at least) second children's book. But for the life of me I couldn't figure out why it takes a race car driver to come up with "K is for Kevlar."

    Similarly, how on earth is Sam the best voice for an animated race car? I am in advertising. Does that make me qualified to put out a line of action figures based on famous characters from advertising? But what do I know.

  9. Anonymous // September 17, 2008 6:33 AM  

    Dudes, he's the narrator. Think George Carlin narrating Thomas the Tank Engine and it's pretty clear that Sam is a good choice.

  10. Anonymous // September 17, 2008 6:43 AM  

    As dull as Mr. Hornish can be in interviews, would the My Name is IRL community prefer the narrator be "Woad" (Ward) Burton?

    "Nah Rary th' Racin' Car got hisself inna' real pickle chilren'! He got hisself a flat tar, and his angin wuz low on awl. He needed him a yella flag REAL BAD!"

    It could happen. But the show would have to be subtitled in "Yankee" (English). :^P

  11. Anonymous // September 17, 2008 6:52 AM  

    Normally I'd advise "don't quit your day job" but when your day job is running 37th in a 43-car field...

  12. The SpeedGeek // September 17, 2008 6:56 AM  

    Two things: 1) Sam will be OK as a narrator, but I agree, inflection is not his strong suit. Better to go for somebody like Helio, or maybe Kenny Wallace. Though I suppose that either of them would require subtitles of their own. 2) Quarter midget blogging is an untapped market, Jeff! Less Honda spec-engine, more Briggs & Stratton, please! :)

  13. Iannucci // September 17, 2008 7:33 AM  

    I think Sam will do fine, although when asked my kids thought Dan Wheldon would have been a better choice. Go figure.

    Helio, on the other hand, would make a great character for a kids feature. He could be himself, dancing, climbing fences, being FUN-tastic, but just, literally, more animated.

    And on a side note - it never ceases to amaze me how Jeff Burton can speak perfectly fine, scoring endorsements in all kinds of commercials, while his brother Ward ("Wahd") Burton invariably sounds like he has a mouthful of marbles.

  14. Anonymous // September 17, 2008 9:15 AM  

    The explanation for the Burton brothers sounding so different is basically simple: Jeff's bedroom was on the north side of the Burton home. Ward's was on the south side.

    Had this been a project about a stock car it would have been cool if they put Ward's voice in there somewhere. He does not pronounce 'himself' as 'hisself.' That's left to Larry McReynolds, a prime USDA butcherer of the King's tongue if there ever was one.

  15. Anonymous // September 17, 2008 9:57 AM  

    I think Sam will do fine, although when asked my kids thought Dan Wheldon would have been a better choice. Go figure.

    Mr. Wheldon is already gainfully employed providing the voice of this delightful little fellow.

    What, you don't believe me? Ask yourself this: Have you ever seen Dan and the little fellow in the same room together?

  16. The SpeedGeek // September 17, 2008 10:07 AM  

    When I lived in Virginia from mid-1999 to early-2001, there was a delightful radio ad for the Virginia lottery that featured both of the Burton brothers. They were supposedly coming home to South Boston to visit their mother, and the start of it went something like this:

    Jeff: Hey, Mom. Great to be home!

    Ward: How ya doin', momma?

    This made me giggle every single time I heard it for 18 months.

  17. Anonymous // September 17, 2008 12:09 PM  

    I've personally interviewed all of the guys mentioned and Sam is far worse than Kenseth. Kenseth's interviewing persona is a lot different when the TV camera isn't on.

    There's currently nobody out there who can hold a candle to the horror that is Reid Sorensen, but of all the possibilities for a narrator I've gotta wonder why they settled on Sam.