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WINCHESTER, N.H. (WWLP) – Like so many in Western Massachusetts, I was saddened by the passing of Rollie Jacobs. Rollie was WWLP’s Sports Director when I started working at the station nearly 39 years ago. The Rollie Jacobs who brought you the scores and highlights each night was the same guy off the air as well as on. Warm, genuine, with a big smile that would light up a room. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone, and he was extremely patient with all of us, including teenagers like myself who could screw up now and then to Rollie’s detriment. Rollie’s son worked for a brief time at the station, and I had the good fortune to work with him as well.
We both shared a passion for auto racing. Rollie was a longtime track announcer at the former Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam as well as the Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Saturday night at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire, 22News spoke with some racers who remembered Rollie Jacobs. Here are some of their thoughts:
Doug Coby, 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion: “When I started in Late Models at Stafford, Rollie was calling the action up there with Mike Massaro, Ben Dodge, and the team of announcers they had. He was the elder statesman with the mature, distinguished voice. As a young kid, 16, 17 years old, he was calling my first and second Late Model wins. It’s fun to watch those videos, obviously it brings back great memories for my team and myself, and he’s a part of it because he’s the guy I’m listening to, exciting the fans about my 1st wins as a teenager.”
Wade Cole, former Riverside Park Speedway Modified driver, current NWMT driver: “He always did a fantastic job. He had a calm voice and was just a gentleman on and off the track. He will be greatly missed, a real ambassador for the sport.”
Eric Leclair, former Riverside Park Speedway Modified driver, current Sportsman Modified driver: “Back towards 1990 they (Riverside) had the Susie Dugan-Rollie Jacobs award. Knowing just what kind of a guy he was and how professional he was about everything, that was probably one of my best and biggest awards I had ever gotten in my career. I’ve been at it for 36 years now. It means a lot to me and Rollie’s going to be missed by all of us because he was just a real nice guy with a positive attitude. He’s the kind of guy that could make a rattlesnake smile! He was a really good guy and we’re all going to miss him.”
I owe Rollie a debt of gratitude for giving me my very first night of speedway announcing, working alongside him at Riverside. Rollie knew how badly I wanted to try announcing and he gave me that first opportunity. That first night convinced me that I wanted to do what Rollie did, and years later with the support of others, I was able to enjoy many years of announcing at Riverside and Monadnock. I will never forget the racing banquets with Rollie and his wonderful wife Ellie. There are so many expressions in our language that fit Rollie Jacobs: a gentleman, the real deal, a pro’s pro, a class act, and more. Our condolences to Ellie, his children, and his family. I never met anyone else quite like Rollie Jacobs. I will miss him and never forget him.