Check out part 1: How Fox Sports Mike Joy Changed With The Times
Away from the track, and when the Fox Sports part of the NASCAR broadcasts are over for the season, Mike Joy keeps very busy. He is very much a ‘car guy’ who owns classic cars, as well as vintage and BMW Club cars that he races with his son. He’s also the voice people hear on the widely popular Barrett-Jackson Auto Auctions broadcast on the A&E networks. In fact, even before the NASCAR season gets underway, this month, Joy will be narrating the broadcast of the Barrett-Jackson auction from Scottsdale, Arizona.
No matter which of the 1500 or so cars that come up on the auction block, Mike Joy can probably recall an interesting tidbit or two.
“I grew up in the pages of Car and Driver Road and Track and Sports Car Graphic,” he said. “I would just read voraciously anything I could find, which wasn’t easy up in New England, about auto racing and the racers and the cars.
“I guess I was just very fortunate that a lot of that’s stuck and I’m able to recall it and spit it back out.”
His love of classic cars isn’t limited to those crossing the auction block, however.
“The best thing about classic cars is when I go hop into my ‘72 Z 28 Camaro, which is very, very much like the ‘71 that I had back in the day,” he said. “I climb in that car, I’m 21 again. You know, that’s kind of the best part. All those cars just evoke great memories.
“It’s fun to share and I’m happy that they continue to ask me to do that.”
When not narrating auctions, working on his own classic cars, or racing with his son, Joy still pays attention to NASCAR, and even watches the broadcasts on NBC, the broadcast partner who handles the second half of the NASCAR season.
“I do, of course. I do and I watch it in real time,” he said. “I don’t fast forward through it. Maybe I’m not sitting in front of the set the whole-time and maybe I’ll hear Rick Allen or Jeff Burton’s inflection suddenly rise and I’ll stop what I’m doing and get over in front of the TV kind of thing.
“I guess you’d have to call me a casual viewer. But you have to keep up with this sport. Even though Fox only broadcasts half the season we have to pay close attention to what happens the rest of the season. And the final few championship races in particular.”
The entire NASCAR TV broadcast landscape might be changing for Mike Joy, and the rest of the sport starting in 2025. NASCAR’s current TV deal, last signed in 2015, will expire at the end of 2024. Negotiations have been ongoing and are expected to be finalized this coming year. Joy doesn’t have any input, or insider knowledge of how those talks are going. He does, however, have a wish list of things he’d like to see. Things like more in-car camera availability in cars, though he acknowledges that would be expensive.
“NASCAR just rolled out a product where they have one fixed camera in every car,” he said. “I think they’re pushing it to their streaming service.
“Obviously that’s just the beginning… that one fixed view is sometimes helpful, but it certainly doesn’t rival what we get from the BSI cameras when we mount three or four of ’em on a car and they’re able to tilt and pan and show you different things.”
He’d also like to see more in-car telemetry available for broadcast.
“I think we get throttle, brake steering angle RPM; the teams get more. And I think for broadcast to know, or at least have a sense of if a car is overheating, if a car is losing oil pressure or fuel pressure. The team is going to know that. Well, why can’t America know that? “
Joy would also like to see a more robust graphics package.
“I think we’ve kind of gone as far as we can with the current graphics package,” he said, adding. “Frankly, I envy some of what they’re doing in Formula One with their graphics and with their onboard coverage is really pretty amazing.”
He has one other thing on his wish list.
“And I’m afraid it’s going to stay there,” he said with a chuckle, “Is that when we do in-car communication, to have that transcribed in real time. Because a lot of times by the time the in-car radio gets to us up to the satellite, down to the satellite in LA up to the satellite, to the cable system, to your home, some of that conversation is not easy to understand.
“There is not a program that can do it because of the technical jargon. And so far, we’ve just not figured out a way to do it well and still be able to do it in real time. It would delay getting those conversations on the air quite a bit to transcribe them and get that up on the screen.”
No matter what the outcome of the NASCAR TV contracts ends up being when finalized, fans should expect to hear Mike Joy behind the microphone on a broadcast for many years to come. The 73-year-old is far from ready to step away from the broadcast booth.
“I have the greatest job,” he said. “Yes. I really do. And believe me, I treasure it. It really is a privilege to be able to bring this sport into America’s living rooms and help people there enjoy it and understand it and maybe learn a little bit about what really goes on in preparing and running these race cars.”
As for when he will know it’s time to step away:
“I think like athletes, broadcasters sometimes overstay their welcome and usually the decision to step away is made by somebody else. And I’m fine with that,” Joy said.
“There’s a process in speaking whereby what you say is what you thought of half a second ago. And sometimes as we age, that process gets short-circuited, and you’re meaning to talk about driver X or meaning to ask a question to an analyst why, and when it comes out, because you’re already thinking of the next thought, you want to present things, either jump ahead or get a little scrambled and you come up with the wrong name and you don’t know it at the time because you’re already moving to the next thought. Hopefully somebody’s there to correct you.
“When that sort of thing starts happening too often, it’s time to step aside. We’ve got great people at Fox, from Eric Shanks (Fox Sports CEO) on down to Brad Zager (Fox Sports president of production & operations, and executive producer) and everybody involved.
“I trust them, and they trust me. And as they’ve told me, as long as I’m feel able to do this job at a high level and get the most from my analysts and tell the story of the race, they’d like me to keep doing this.”