Bob Frey (DOB: September 24, 1946) of Waterford Township, New Jersey, served as an Announcer for the National Hot Rod Association for 46 years (1966-2012) and during that time he brought with him a new level of excitement and knowledge to the Sport and Business of Drag Racing that served it very well.
Frey’s interest in Drag Racing really began to develop in 1964 when he and some friends first went to Atco (NJ) Dragway. And, as part of his interest in the sport at that time, he also ventured to the old Vineland (NJ) Speedway Drag Strip in 1965 and on that occasion won E/Stock Automatic class honors with his 390-cubic-inch-powered 1961 Ford.
But most of the time Frey made regular visits to Atco’s quarter-mile that was close to his home and he even got to make some full-throttle runs there in a buddy’s 426-wedge-head 1965 Plymouth Belvedere.
Still, while being a Super/Stock Drag Racer was certainly one of the things that Frey would have liked to do, what fortunately got his attention was an interesting announcement that was made over Atco’s public address system – the track was looking for an announcer.
Well, the 18-year-old Frey knew that he could talk and he had more than a little bit of knowledge about the sport, so he went to the tower, they gave him a tryout and for the next 18 years (1966-1984) he announced almost every race that Atco held.
This lengthy-tenure at Atco included the years in the late 1960s when he served in the United States Air Force as he was stationed nearby at what was then known as McGuire Air Force Base. And the Staff Sergeant’s announcing skills were also pressed into service at McGuire when he handled those duties at the Strato-Rods “drag strip,” an old runway at the base that was used periodically for racing.
Frey’s reputation for his work with the microphone at Atco brought him to the head of the list when the newly-formed International Hot Rod Association was in the market for a National Event Announcer and he began those duties in 1971. Then, after more than a decade with that organization, he began his tenure as the NHRA’s National Event Announcer in 1985 and that lasted for almost thirty years.
Another thing of considerable importance is that during Frey’s time traveling to NHRA tracks in the United States and Canada, he was universally cited by those in the know as someone who not only had a thorough knowledge and understanding of the sport, but also a love for the people who competed in it and for those who enjoyed watching it.
But maybe the thing that set Frey apart was that even though he was “The Voice Of Drag Racing” on a national scale, he never forgot or discounted those who make up the bulk of the sport – the racers who compete weekly on the local drag strips.
As might be expected, Frey has had great friendships with many of the most famous personalities in Professional Drag Racing; the stars of the sport in Top Fuel, Funny Cars, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle Racing. But he also has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with those who competed in the NHRA’s Sportsman Classes.
In fact, it has been acknowledged that because of the way Frey talked about Sportsman competitors at the track and during the national television coverage of NHRA Sportsman Drag Racing – on TNN’s “NHRA Today” and ESPN2’s “NHRA2Day” – that he raised the interest in those divisions and helped to increase their popularity.
Self-described as “a skinny, geeky, bald-headed guy with glasses,” Frey is blessed with a silky-smooth voice and a wonderful sense of humor and his very approachable personality was evident in his announcing work. Plus, his vocal talents and pleasant temperament were also put to good use when serving as the Master of Ceremonies for many of the NHRA’s special events and for similar activities that took place on a regional or local level.
More importantly, however, Frey’s goal as an announcer and broadcaster was to inform and entertain. And with his casual way of doing things, he was able to enlighten someone who was new to Drag Racing while at the same time adding to the education of hard-core fans with new insights and great stories.
It is also of note that this proud “Ambassador of Drag Racing” is the only announcer to have called National Drag Races for the NHRA, IHRA, American Hot Rod Association and NASCAR. And he did his work at drag strips in 49 states and five countries (United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and England).
Simply stated, Frey’s idea of what an announcer should do was to tell the story of what was happening on the track in terms the average fan in the grandstand would understand. And by doing so with a self-effacing and charismatic manner he drew many new fans to Drag Racing and found great favor with those who had followed the sport from its earliest years.
But Frey’s announcing abilities were not the only thing that he displayed during his long career as he also penned regular columns for NATIONAL DRAGSTER (“Bob Tales”) and Drag Race Central/dragracecentral.com (“Did You Know?”).
He also he did over 300 feature stories on Sportsman racers that appeared in print and on television that covered everyone from national champions to local heroes at his home track, Atco Dragway. And it was especially in these outlets where his love for the history of Drag Racing and the people who were part of it was revealed.
Since Frey retired from his NHRA announcing obligations he has continued to follow what is taking place in the sport to which he gave so much. On occasion, he also will do some special work for the NHRA and he continues to build on his immense file of information that deals with history about Drag Racing.