For fans of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Gary Gerould is the play-by-play voice on the radio. For racing fans, Gary Gerould is a pit reporter on ESPN2’s coverage of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Two very different sports, one guy.
Gerould has with the Kings since they came to California in 1985 and has called nearly 2,000 games. He’s been on ESPN since 1990, covering NASCAR, IndyCar, CART and other forms of racing in addition to his current role. Since the NHRA and NBA seasons overlap in both the spring and fall, Gerould sometimes finds himself travelling from court to track and back again. How does he keep it straight?
“I tell myself ‘engage the racing brain,’ and ‘engage the basketball brain,’” he said. ”Over a period of time you find shortcuts that help. But by the same token, doing three games in a week, then suddenly you’re at a racetrack, then you’ve got to shift gears a little bit. I work very hard to stay up to speed on what’s going on with rule changes, driver changes, crew chief changes, so that when I get on site, the seed has been planted. Having done 80-plus basketball games for 25 years, it’s more a discipline of getting your homework done and updating stats. You’re with these guys, you travel with them on the plane, and so you have opportunities to ask them about things.”
If Gerould has to miss a Kings game to work a drag racing event, he keeps up by watching ESPN and checking box scores online. And while he’s with the Kings, he reads racing websites on a daily basis. He may miss eight or so games during the regular season, but has the full support of the Kings organization.
“I’ve been so fortunate because right from when I first started with the Kings, I was involved with NBC and I had to have certain latitude because of previous commitments, and they allowed it,” he said. “Over 25 years, they’ve continued to give me that. I greatly appreciate it.”
Naturally, Gerould is often asked if he prefers basketball or racing. “My answer is that I like everything that I do,” he said. “I’m that kind of a person. I want to find enjoyment in what I do and have a passion for it. Also, when you start to get ground down by an 82-game basketball season, or a 23-weekend race season, you go to the other one, and it recharges you, and gives you a fresh outlook.”