You know the voice. Deep, clear baritone. Authoritative and informative at the same time.
Rick Allen doesn’t take credit for his voice currently heard on Trucks series broadcasts, ARCA races and soon NASCAR and Nationwide Series events.
“It’s just there and I've been lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” said Allen, who was known as Rick Schwieger in his days as a decathlete at Nebraska, P.A. announcer at Memorial Stadium and the voice of Eagle Raceway.
“And now my job just got a little cooler in terms of a national setting,” he said.
Allen was named to the NBC broadcast crew for the 2015 NASCAR season. ESPN is in its final season with the stock car racing circuit. Allen will be joined in the NBC booth by longtime NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte, the current crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In the meantime, Allen will continue as the voice of the Trucks and ARCA series for Fox. He’ll also be the host of a new daily racing show on NBC Sports Network.
“I’m going from 2 to 3 million viewers to 8 to 10 million viewers, so there’s a little more pressure. And most of my fans are experts and emotionally charged, so I've got to be on my toes.”
That shouldn't be a problem. He’s been announcing some level of NASCAR races since 2005.
“What I don’t know, I know who to ask and how to find out,” Allen said. “You just know that you’ll be talking, trying to keep the expert fans happy and bring in the new fans at the same time, and there are no breaks in the broadcasts.”
Allen got interested in cars when he bought a 1966 Mustang for $125 when he was 14. “I basically rebuilt that car and fell in love with cars,” he said.
As for racing, Allen has a little experience.
“I got to drive a car around the track at Nashville and I got that feel of driving on the edge, at least what I thought was on the edge, and was going relatively slow to what the real drivers can do.”
The 2014 auto racing season starts soon.
“I get pretty excited this time of year with the start of the season,” said Allen, a two-time Big Eight decathlon champion and Husker All-American from Grand Island.
Allen has been in Daytona Beach, Fla., for car testing and will be there through Speedweeks, which conclude with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.
“This is so much fun to get to know the drivers, the crews, the owners and a lot of the fans, because NASCAR is all about people,” Allen said.
There are 43 teams and everything that goes with them, from drivers to sponsors to fans, and that can be intimidating.
“But I've gotten to know so many of the people in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series through the Truck series, that I feel I at least know where to go and who to talk to,” he said.
There will be plenty of help with Burton and Letarte in the booth and Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast reporting from the track.
“Everybody has been great about this move to NBC,” Allen said. “Fox is keeping me on for the Trucks and ARCA and qualifying shows.
"This is the dream job for anybody who wanted to announce racing and that’s what I chose to do back when I went to Eagle Raceway.”
Allen's sons Eric (16) and Ryan (14), and wife Kris are racing fans. But neither son has taken a shine to track and field the way their father did.
“We've got soccer and other things, and I got a chance to coach some high school pole vaulting in the offseason,” Allen said. “But with the new schedule, I don’t know how many breaks I’ll get after my family and racing.
“This is what I asked for, and luckily enough, I got a chance to do it.”