Bobby Gunther Walsh: The Racing Radio Host

Bobby Gunther Walsh: The Racing Radio Host

Some recognize Bobby Gunther Walsh as a modified driver at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania. However, many others know him as the morning talk show host of NewsRadio 790 WAEB in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a position he has held for 38 years.

Gunther grew up watching his father, Joe, race modifieds at the now-defunct Lake Moc-A-Tek Speedway in Lakeville, Pennsylvania. He eventually followed in his father’s footsteps 25 years ago.

“I got divorced,” Gunther, of Orefield, Pennsylvania, said. “I don’t drink [and] I don’t smoke — I needed something to look forward to. On the [radio show], I said on a whim that I would like to drive a modified.”

Frank Simek, a Grandview Speedway photographer, took Gunther seriously.

“When my show ended at 10 a.m., a producer told me there was someone on hold for an hour,” said Gunther. “I picked up the phone and Frank said, ‘I have a ride for you.’”

Simek connected Gunther with racer Ray Swinehart.

“Ray rented me a car,” Gunther said. “People thought I was doing a radio publicity stunt, but I was not. I wanted to be a driver.”

Gunther admitted he had a steep learning curve.

“I had no idea how tough the competition was at Grandview,” said Gunther. “I had no I idea what I was getting myself into.”

Yet, Gunther persisted. He went from renting rides to fielding his own. Gunther’s two worlds — radio and racing — began to intermingle. Racers listened to his show and listeners watched him at the races. His car’s sponsors advertised on his show and his show’s advertisers sponsored his race car. Gunther works hard to promote his sponsors. For example, last Saturday, Gunther handed out Peeps, on behalf of his sponsor, Just Born, to fans.

“Race cars don’t run on gas — they run on money,” Gunther said. “I treated my racing as a business. I want to stay in the black. Sponsors want their cash registers to ring.”

Last weekend, Bobby Gunther Walsh may have had a few more fans stop by his pit after the races. Grandview Speedway hosted its season-opener, the Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker. In race that sent home 19 cars, Gunther finished ninth in the feature.

“I never won a feature,” said Gunther. “This was my best big-event finish by far.”

Bobby Gunther Walsh (middle) racing Kevin Hirthler (outside) and Jeff Strunk (inside) at Grandview Speedway last weekend.