Motorsport broadcaster Mike Raymond, the man who coined the phrase ‘be there!’ and played a pivotal role in the Bathurst 1000 and V8 Supercars on television, has died after a battle with neumonia.
The Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame inductee was 76.
He began his career in speedway and joined Channel 7’s coverage of the sport, beginning a partnership that would last decades.
His role with the network and in motorsports media expanded when he joined the Bathurst 1000 broadcast team.
Raymond became a Channel 7 sports executive and helped lead the introduction of ‘Race Cam’ cameras inside the cars and headsets on the drivers for live conversations with the commentators.
He went on to play a key role in Australian touring car racing’s transformation into a Holden versus Ford competition, which became V8 Supercars.
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“Racing the European formula with Ford Sierras was interesting but the Australian public were looking for something a little different,” Raymond told Speedcafe in 2010.
“What Seven was doing at Bathurst was good, but the public expected more. Seven played a major role in getting Ford, Holden, a headline sponsor in Shell and CAMS (the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) to change from what Australian Touring Cars was to what we have now in V8 Supercars.
“A lot of people at the time weren’t happy, but I think it turned out alright. It wasn’t such a bad move, was it?”
Raymond was followed into broadcasting by his son Andy, who has been an NRL commentator.
Australian motorsports commentator Leigh Diffey, who now works in the US, paid tribute to Raymond on Twitter.
“Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Australian motorsports commentary legend Mike Raymond,” he wrote.
“As a kid I watched endless hours of him calling races and in adulthood became good friends with him and the whole family. Mike was synonymous with Bathurst and great broadcasts. RIP mate.”
Popular commentator Neil Crompton, who was mentored by Raymond after emerging on the broadcasting scene, spoke through tears after a Supercars practice session at the Sandown 500 on Friday.
“We had some news come through yesterday that our great friend Mike Raymond passed away,” he said on Fox Sports.
“Mike was a true pioneer in our industry. He’ll be sadly missed.”
Holden great Mark Skaife remembered Raymond as the face of Channel 7, saying he was “instrumental in Supercars as we know it”.
“He was a man that loved the sport and so much of what we have today was a consequence of Mike’s contribution to the industry,” Skaife said.
“We love him and our thoughts are with his family and friends. Our sincere condolences.”