Gay stock car announcer gains national exposure, breaks stereotypes

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Tuesday February 9, 2010

Troy Germain has literally spent most of his life around the track.

The Lancaster, N.H., native began to go to stock car races with his parents when he was five. A small track in nearby Groveton hired him and a local radio disk jockey in 1991 to announce their weekly races; but Germain took over after managers fired the DJ. The American Canadian Tour hired him to announce their races in 2001-the same year he came out to his now ex-wife.

"As I've come out and become more comfortable with who I am, I've become less afraid and more comfortable being myself around the officials," Germain told EDGE in a recent interview.

Nearly two decades later, Germain's life continues to revolve around cars and the sport he loves. He currently works at a car dealership in St. Johnsbury, Vt., but he spends almost every weekend from April through October at tracks across New England, New York and Ontario and Québec in Canada.

"In most cases, I feel like I'm just walking up to and chatting with a friend of mine to see what's new, to see the latest developments in their lives, in their careers," Germain said.

Germain has also begun to announce races on the national level. He announced the ACT's inaugural race at the New Hampshire International Speedway last September in front of 40,000 people. Germain also announced a nationally broadcast NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway in 2007.

"I'm looking to expand what I do into more national exposure," he said.

Germain came out to the ACT in 2003. He conceded it remains tough to be the only openly gay man on the circuit-he said there are others about whom he knows, but they remain closeted. Germain said an e-mail Darla Hartt, vice president and general manager of the ACT, gave him the strength to come out to his colleagues. It read be yourself; be who you are and don't be afraid; just be.

Germain's dates and even boyfriends have become fixtures at ACT races, banquets and other events. Hartt told EDGE from her Waterbury, Vt., office Germain's experience on the tour is far different from that of a closeted gay man with whom she once worked. She categorized her interactions with her former boss as an "egg shell kind of experience," because he was afraid of how his colleagues would react to his sexual orientation if they found out about it.

"I'm really proud and happy for Troy to be comfortable with whom he is; a Red Sox fan, a gay man or a race car announcer," she said.

Hartt added she has never heard of anyone on the tour reacting negatively to Germain.

"In the kind of work we do... we're all very busy and focused on the task at hand," she said.

Dave Moody, the host of Sirius Speedway who is also one of the Motor Racing Network's senior broadcasters, echoed Hartt. Germain succeeded him when he left the ACT in 2001. And Moody said Germain continues to garner the respect of the drivers and others with whom he works on the track.

"Troy is Troy," Moody said. "Our business is performance driven. The only thing that matters is if you can or can't do his job. Troy is really good at his job."

Stereotypes continue to influence the way the public views stock car racing and motor sports in general. Moody said people continue to feel it is "kind of a red neck sport that evolved from moonshine runners..." and "an intolerant hillbilly sport." He said Germain's presence alone dispels them.

"The misconception is that it is kind of a Southern redneck, boot culture, conservative... culture, and it's really not," Moody said as he further discussed Germain's presence on the tour. "He's kind of like the rest of us."

Vermont state Sen. Phil Scott [R-Montpelier] is a multiple ACT race winner who races at the tour's home track in Barre. Hartt noted carpenters and others are among those who are commonly found on tour.

"We make weekend heroes out of ordinary people," she said. "We got somebody from every walk of life. It's like a religion almost; it's like being a Red Sox fan. It's just a good group of friends who travel from town to town on weekends and have a really good time."

Brian Hoar, who a six-time ACT champion, conceded to EDGE he did not know Germain is gay until a year ago. He stressed, however, his sexual orientation remains a non-issue.

"Troy is just one of the guys and a great human being," Hoar said.

Germain himself seems comfortable with the lack of attention his sexual orientation receives while on the track. He concedes some gay men react curiously about his work with questions and comments that include "That's butch" or "How can you be out in such a straight industry?" Germain simply laughs.

"I'm respect for who I am and what I do, without regard to my sexual orientation," he said. "I'm just one of the guys."

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.