Legendary motorsport broadcaster Mike Raymond has passed away following a battle with pneumonia.
Raymond was a significant figure in Australian motorsport from the mid-1970s, and was the voice of touring car racing as the sport went from strength to strength through to the 1990s.
He was the voice for several years at Bathurst, and played a key role in enhancing what would become classic coverage.
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He famously spoke to drivers in-race via the innovative RaceCam technology, and coined the phrase “be there!” as he skippered Seven’s colourful broadcast.
Raymond’s interest in motorsport began at Speedway when his father took him to Sydney Sportsground and Showgrounds as a spectator.
He was a producer at ATN7, and was former head of sport at Channel Seven.
Raymond played a key role in the introduction of the 5.0 litre V8 rules for 1993, which followed the Group A era in 1993. That helped set the foundations for what Supercars is today.
Last year, he was inducted into Bathurst’s Legends Lane and the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the Order of Australia medal in 1996.
He was 76.
“Mike was a true pioneer in our industry,” Fox Sports commentator Neil Crompton said on the Sandown 500 broadcast.
“He’ll be sadly missed.”
Mark Skaife continued: “He was the face of Channel Seven for many years. He was instrumental in Supercars, the V8 category as we know it.
“He loved the sport, and so much of what we’ve got today has been as a consequence of Mike’s contribution to this indutry.
“We love him, and our thoughts are with his family and friends. Sincere condolences.”
Tributes flowed, from drivers to media personalities.
Six-time Bathurst winner Larry Perkins wrote to Facebook: “Sad day with the passing of Mike Raymond. The most passionate commentator of motorsports and a tireless supporter of V8’s. The influence Mike had on the industry and TV and the beginning of our current rules owes a great debt to Mike. The very enthusiastic and most likeable person you will ever meet. I for one of many will miss you.”
Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of legendary Supercars commentator Mike Raymond. Supercars has lost not only one of the truly great exponents of the sport but also one of its heroes, who was the voice of Australian Touring Cars in the 1970s through to the 1990s, calling our great race, the Bathurst 1000 for more than 20 years.
“Fans can still remember Mike Raymond starting the Bathurst broadcast in a way only he could. His love of racing and his heavy influence in the production of a number of Logie Award-winning Bathurst 1000 broadcasts, played a major role in getting manufacturers, a headline sponsor and CAMS to change from what Australian Touring Cars was to what is now the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
“His passing is a great loss for the entire Supercars family, Australian broadcasting and motorsport as a whole. All our thoughts go out to his family.”