MILWAUKEE — Racing has a rich history in southeastern Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Mile is the oldest operating motor speedway in the world. For many years, if there was an engine to be started, Jim Tretow was there.
For racing fans, Tretow’s voice is as familiar as the rumble of the engines.
Tretow has spent over 30 years around the Milwaukee Mile. He grew up in Franklin and started attending events at the track when he was three years old.
“My dad had a rule because there were a lot of Tretow boys. If you could go to the bathroom by yourself, you could start showing up,” Tretow said.
Tretow wasn’t just an in-the-stands observer. Since his family raced, Tretow was able to get close to the cars and feed his curiosity.
“It’s in my blood. My dad had a first cousin that raced a stock car at Hales Corners Speedway. We lived three miles east of there. We couldn’t wait! When the noise started, we had to be at the track,” Tretow said.
Today, that is still his motto. In 1985, he got behind the mic and has been talking track ever since, with a “Racing Roundup” show broadcast in Milwaukee and Madison, PA duties at the Mile and Road America and even traveling the country, announcing for Speed TV.
If you ask him, it doesn’t get any better.
I have to tell you I am so fortunate to be paid to go to the race track. It takes work. It takes memorization. My wife criticizes me because I remember too much about racing. Maybe not enough about anniversaries birthdays – but in reality – I love this so much,” Tretow said.
It’s the fan in Tretow that connects him with the masses. He’s informed and passionate and that appeals to many. His simple style draws in the casual follower and also enlightens the gear heads.
“What I try to say to myself is, if there’s a real diehard fan, they may know more than I do, but for the first-time fan, I want to make sure they got something out of it. I also want to be part of the show where people say ‘wow, I had a good time. I learned something, and I want to come back,’” Tretow said.
Duties now sometimes take Tretow out of Wisconsin, so it’s a real treat to have a handful of races in his home state. His advice to those still on the fence about coming out to a race: “I’d just say go out and experience it. See it live.”
Tretow may be biased, as he’s still that kid jacked to be at the track, but with Tretow narrating the action, fans are bound to get revved up about racing.
Tretow’s “Racine Roundup” show has been on the air for close to 30 years, making it America’s longest running weekly motorsports radio show held in front of a live audience.