Legendary Broadcasters: Mike Raymond
Arguably the man who shaped modern racing broadcasting, it's a crime Mike Raymond is relatively unknown outside of Australia.
"The boy from the 'burbs" as he was known, Mike Raymond is the man who revolutionised the broadcasting of motorsport and added many features we take for granted today.
Born in 1943, Raymond always had a love for anything with wheels and an engine, especially touring cars and speedway. Indeed, his first job was commentating speedway before being a producer at ATN Channel 7 in Sydney.
In the mid-1970's he was promoted to the head of sport for the Seven Network, and also began commentating on Australia's Greatest Race, the Bathurst 1000. It was his work that put Bathurst on the worldwide racing calendar, working with teams to bring international racers like Jacky Ickx, Johnny Rutherford, Deiter Quester, and even bringing Sir Stirling Moss out of retirement to race. It was also under his guidance that the ARDC made deals with worldwide television networks to broadcast the event, including bringing legendary commentators Murray Walker and Chris Economaki to the event.
He did plenty on the invention and tradition side of things too. He arguably began the catchphrase revolution in motor racing with his well-known phrases such as "standing on the gas" and in advertising, "be there!". His ingenuity in putting cameras on unexplored places to give unparalleled coverage of races set the norm for the modern-day too. Placing cameras poking out of walls and under the kerbs, or on a zipline over the pit lane was unheard of until Raymond did it in the 1980s.
His greatest invention, however, had to be RaceCam. In 1979 he came up with an idea to have an onboard camera live in the car, with a microphone plugged into the driver so they could chat during the race. He and the directors at Channel 7 went hard at work, although the more successful drivers didn't cooperate early on, he got the support of privateer Peter Williamson, and the rest is history.
Very soon after, the top drivers wanted in on RaceCam, which quickly became a popular international feature and now almost every car in top racing series have live onboard cameras. When the technology became available in the late 1980s, Raymond and Channel 7 also experimented with putting cameras on different parts of the car such as the front bumper, rear wing, and side mirrors.
He retired in 1995, but not before putting into motion one last thing that still lives on. In 1992, the international Group A touring regulations fell apart, with series going their own way. Raymond and Channel 7 began to formulate a new touring car regulation based solely on the Australian made Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore cars, using a standard 5.0 litre V8 engine. Those regulations for the most part still stand 27 years later, and the noise of the cars, plus the distinctive large rear wings, are an iconic sight in Australian sport.
The debut for the V8 Formula of motorsport.
Modern motor racing has a lot to thank Mike Raymond, who died late last year, for his contribution to racing broadcasting.