After a distinguished 36-year career in NASCAR broadcasting, Performance Racing Network (PRN) President and Lead Anchor, Doug Rice, will bid farewell to the broadcast booth after the 2024 PRN race season.
For more than three decades, Rice’s voice has been synonymous with racing on the radio. A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Rice developed a love for radio as a young man listening to the Atlanta Braves.
“The Braves radio broadcasters brought those games to life, describing the smell blowing into Wrigley Field from the Chicago stockyards or the ladies in pink hats at the Braves games; I couldn’t imagine traveling as far away as Atlanta, not to mention going to San Francisco or Chicago,” said Rice. “They had to be great story tellers because the Braves didn’t give them much to talk about in that era. I thought talking on the radio and telling stories had to be the best job ever, and as it turns out, I was right.”
Rice got his first taste of a career in radio when he started working weekends for WSTP/WRDX in Salisbury, North Carolina, mostly engineering ball games and races. During that time, he was also working at the campus radio station for his alma mater, Appalachian State University.
“I played mostly classic rock records and thought I was going to be the next great DJ,” laughed Rice.
Rice’s first foray into motorsports broadcasting was with the Capitol Radio Network calling Busch Series races at South Boston Speedway in South Boston, Virginia. He started working in the pits and later moved into the booth.
“For a few years, Capitol did most of the stand-alone Busch races that MRN didn’t cover,” Rice reminisced. “It was a lot of fun – Mark Garrow, Steve Richards, Steven Blevins, Harrill Hamrick and I riding around in a van going to places like South Boston, Orange County, Myrtle Beach, Oxford Plains, Volusia and Hickory and many other places that are long forgotten.”
In 1988, Rice joined Speedway Motorsports as Program and Affiliate Director for PRN. In 1992, he moved into the booth as anchor, and has since called play-by-play on 210 NASCAR Cup Series races. His distinctive, on-air presence and delightful blend of approachability and wit has informed and inspired NASCAR fans from all over the world, winning him multiple awards in the process including:
- Three-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Broadcaster of the Year (2007, 2022 and 2023)
- 2022 NMPA Joe Littlejohn Award for service to the NMPA
- 2020 North Carolina Motorsports Association Jim Hunter Memorial Media Award
- 2017 Horace Billings Lifetime Achievement Award and Salisbury-Rowan Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
Rice has made a career of sharing amazing race action and transporting listeners from where they are to the race track. His personal highlights include calling:
- Jeff Gordon’s first win in the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s first wins in the Xfinity and Cup Series’ at Texas Motor Speedway
- Tony Stewart’s first win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 2005 Brickyard 400
- Ryan Blaney’s thrilling win the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
- Adam Petty’s ARCA win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1998 was especially special to Rice, a life-long Petty fan
Rice’s impact at PRN, however, extends far beyond his memorable on-air calls.
- The only broadcaster to date to call both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Dubbed the “Doug Double,” in partnership with the Indianapolis Radio Network, Rice reported from pit road during the 2015 Indianapolis 500 and then, with logistical support from Shell Oil Company, flew back to North Carolina to anchor the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
- Covered more than 13 different series of racing from grassroots to NASCAR’s top level, including ASA, All PRO Series, Hooters Pro Cup, Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series, World of Outlaws, ARCA, IROC, NHRA, IndyCar, Indy Lights and all three of NASCAR top national series.
- Served as lead on more than 1,000 PRN “Fast Talk” shows, providing in-depth coverage, driver interviews and memorable stories from countless motorsports personalities
- Oversaw a booming period of growth in the number of events PRN broadcast starting with two Cup events in 1988 to 14 in 2024
- Hosted hundreds of notable press conferences including driver and team announcements, industry event news conferences and sponsorship media availabilities
- Helped launch PRN’s digital studio, which now provides state-of-the-art audio and video feeds for a variety of PRN and affiliate needs
“It’s just impossible to overstate the impact Doug has had on motorsports throughout his broadcast career,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “I can remember when I first started work at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Doug had a small desk in the events department with a closet nearby for his radio equipment. Every Monday night he would haul his gear on a cart into a conference room to host Fast Talk with Benny Parsons.
“I’ve always loved listening to Doug call the races. He brings so much energy calling the action, and he’s also got a great sense of humor and knows just when to throw in a subtle pun that would always make me laugh,” Smith added. “I’m grateful for what Doug has done not only on-air for the fans but to grow the Performance Racing Network. While he may be stepping away from the booth at the end of this season, his voice will continue to be on the soundtrack of our sport for generations to come.”
“When I was first hired at Charlotte by Ed Clark (former Charlotte Motor Speedway events director and later general manager at Atlanta Motor Speedway), we only broadcast four races a year,” said Rice. “But Bruton Smith always had a vision to do something bigger, about everything. He always wanted to expand the network, and I was very grateful to him and the Smith family for their support–particularly for their investment in our multimedia studios in 2008.”
When asked why now was the right time to end his NASCAR play-by-play career, Rice said, “There is a song quote from the little-known band Donna the Buffalo, ‘there is no place like the right time.’ God put me in the right place at the right time to have a wonderful career. My source of joy now is watching others succeed and grow their own careers, that’s what makes me happy.”
To kick off the 2024 season, Rice has been invited to join the Motor Racing Network broadcast crew for this year’s Daytona 500, a bucket list opportunity for the esteemed motorsports voice.” Doug’s Last Lap will continue with the 2024 PRN season, starting with the Feb. 24-25 Ambetter Health 400 weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, followed by 13 additional Cup Series events at Speedway Motorsports facilities and the co-produced Brickyard 400 with the Indianapolis Radio Network. See PRN’s full broadcast schedule and find a station near you at GoPRN.com.
Along the way, PRN will highlight the longtime broadcaster’s legendary career with social media campaigns, special guest appearances and other tributes throughout the year.
– PRN –