Mike Raymond was the voice of Australian touring cars in the 1970s through to the 1990s. Sitting alongside Garry Wilkinson, he called Bathurst for more than 20 years and was famous for coining the phrase ”Be there!”
Coining phrases was and still is a specialty of Raymond. He would start each Bathurst telecast with “Hello Australia – I’m Mike Raymond and welcome to Seven’s Telecast of ‘The Great Race’.
His influence even led to NASCAR boss Bill France Jr. being the Grand Marshall for the 1982 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst.
Raymond worked predominantly with Channel 7and was once Seven’s head of sport in Sydney.
Raymond’s interest in motorsport started with Speedway, his father used to take him to the Sydney Sportsground and Showgrounds to watch the racing. By the 70’s he was calling races.
“My involvement in motorsport goes back many years, I came from a speedway background, I always had a genuine interest in cars,” Raymond told Speedcafe.com.au.
“I had always been associated with Seven and motorsport. I produced the Amaroo Park telecast then moved on to touring cars, then it changed the formula to V8s – Holden and Ford.”
During his years with Seven he saw motor racing in its then form slowly move to what it is now – V8 Supercars.
“Racing the European formula with Ford Sierras was interesting but the Australian public were looking for something a little different,” Raymond said.
“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 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?”
While Raymond does tune in to watch V8 Supercars, don’t expect him to return to the Seven commentary box.
“I still catch up with the V8s occasionally, if the race interests me enough I’ll tune in,” Raymond said.
“Some races are better than other races, some tracks are better than other tracks, I’m still interested.
“Returning (as a commentator) would be pretty fanciful; I’ve made my contribution to television and the sport.
“I don’t see a reason why I would become involved again.”
Raymond doesn’t have any regrets, but is disappointed that the IndyCars no longer race on the Gold Coast.
“I’m quite passionate about the loss of the IndyCars at Surfers Paradise,” Raymond said.
“I’ve just returned from a five and half week trip to the US, where I had dinner with Randy Bernard, the new boss of IndyCars.
“I spoke to him about the possibility of having the IndyCars back on the Gold Coast again.
“I suggested that he contact Anna Bligh (the Queensland Premier) directly to discuss whether or not IndyCars should be encouraged to come back.
“IndyCars are on the rebound, the racing and events have been fabulous.
“It would be great to have Ryan Briscoe and Will Power over here racing alongside Danica Patrick and Scott Dixon. I think it would be terrific.”
As someone that saw some of the biggest technological broadcast changes, Raymond is looking forward to the next big thing.
“What Seven do is all very good, what television stations do with technology today is terrific,” Raymond said.
“We started with Race Cam and Track Cam and everything else but it’s all about innovation, it never takes a back seat, it only grows.
“The coverage is a lot better than the European coverage.
“3D seems to be the go in movie theatres, but what do you do with V8s, do you do all the telecasts in 3D?
“If you do it’s going to be at some cost, but it’s not a bad idea, it’ll be terrific, it’s the next advent for sports broadcasting.
“You’ve got to keep the product that you’re selling nice and fresh and above all exciting.”
As for what Raymond is doing now?
“I’m still doing promotion and voice over work,” said Raymond.
“I’m delighted with what I’m doing, I’m in semi-retirement, but what I do, I enjoy every day.”