Kevin Goemmer, a longtime track announcer and most recently director of sales and marketing for Charlson Broadcast Technologies, suffered an apparent heart attack and died Jan. 27 in a motor vehicle accident. Goemmer, 48, continued to call races on a fill-in basis, most recently at Turfway Park, and was regarded as one of the best in the business.
Goemmer, a native of Louisville, Ky., began as a hotwalker and trainer of Standardbreds. He called harness races at Louisville Downs and other tracks in the region, and eventually moved on to River Downs, the Cincinnati, Ohio, area track at which he served as announcer, publicity director, and assistant general manager.
Goemmer later moved to the Chicago circuit, where he called races at Arlington Park, Hawthorne Race Course, and Sportsman's Park. He "retired" from full-time announcing in 1999 when he took the position with Charlson, but served as back-up announcer at Turfway when Mike Battaglia was away. In fact, Goemmer called the races at Turfway the week of Jan. 18.
Early in his announcing career, Goemmer called the world record set by the champion pacing mare Silk Stockings in an exhibition mile on the half-mile track at Rockingham Park in New Hampshire in the mid-1970s. At the time, he was the youngest full-time announcer in the country.
Goemmer was an avid student of the game and always willing to offer support or advice to fledgling race callers. One of them was Sean Beirne, who took over in the booth at River Downs in the late 1990s and currently calls races at Evangeline Downs in Louisiana.
"He taught me how to call races," Beirne said. "He was one of the best. I don't think there is a guy who could pick up a horse like Kevin. It's a gift to be able to see, and relate what you see. He could watch how a horse moves. I think he was the best at it."
Beirne said he'd get calls out the blue from Goemmer with comments on one of his race calls.
"I spoke to him about four times a week," Beirne said. "We were really close. He still watched (the races) and would call to congratulate me on a call. His passion was in the game."
"He wasn't just a co-worker--he was a very dear friend of ours," said Tim Yelton, who worked closely with Goemmer at Charlson. "He's someone we're going to dearly miss."
While at River Downs, Goemmer created The Stretch Run
, a half-hour television show on Thoroughbred racing that aired on the CBS affiliate WCPO-TV for eight years. Goemmer produced and co-hosted the show with longtime assistant John Engelhardt, currently publicity director at River Downs. Goemmer also founded the track's "Turf Club," which now has more than 3,500 racing fans as members.
Goemmer, who lived in Northern Kentucky, is survived by his wife, Debbie; sons Jason and Justin; and a granddaughter. Visitation will be held Monday, Feb. 2, from 4-8 p.m. at the Allison & Rose Funeral Home, 5645 Taylor Mill Road, Taylor Mill, Ky., 41015. Services will take place Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m. at the funeral home.