Ken Squier, who brought storytelling talent into the high-speed world of NASCAR racing, died on Wednesday night. He was 88. Squier played a pivotal role in the expansion of the motorsports world. When Squier would broadcast a big race, say the Daytona 500 for instance, fans knew to watch.
“Though he never sat behind the wheel of a stock car, Ken Squier contributed to the growth of NASCAR as much as any competitor,” Jim France, chairman and CEO of NASCAR, said in a statement. According to ESPN, France called him a superb storyteller whose voice is the soundtrack to many of NASCAR’s great moments.
“His calls on TV and radio brought fans closer to the sport, and for that he was a fan favorite. Ken knew no strangers, and he will be missed by all.”
Squier opened Thunder Road speedway in his home state of Vermont in Barre in 1960. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a stock car racer, called Squier “a true Vermont legend and dear friend to me and so many others.”
Ken Squier Made a Name for Himself at the 1979 Daytona 500
NASCAR named its annual award for media excellence after Squier and broadcaster Barney Gall. Race fans felt like they knew Squier, whether they met him or not, said Winston Kelley, executive director of NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“While perhaps best known for his memorable last lap and postrace descriptions of the 1979 Daytona 500, he had the incomparable ability to so effectively articulate the human side of all NASCAR competitors,” Kelley said in a statement. “Among his signature phrases, used at just the right time, was ‘common men doing uncommon things’ which helped audiences and we mere mortals understand the unique skills, risks, and gravity of manhandling a 3,400-pound racecar at speeds in excess of 200 mph with 39 other snarling competitors entrenched around one another.”
Richard Petty won the wild, crazy Daytona 500 in 1979. But fireworks would continue after the race with Cale Yarbrough getting into a fight with the Allison brothers.
“Ken Squier trained 90 percent of the people that are doing television and radio in racing today, either directly or indirectly,” NASCAR on FOX announcer Mike Joy said in a video produced by NASCAR about Squier’s life.
Kyle Petty Pays Homage to Squier’s Work
On Thursday, a lot of NASCAR’s recognizable names headed out to social media and offer their condolences to Squier and his family. Kyle Petty wrote, “It’s a sad day. Ken Squier changed the sport in more way than he knew and in more ways than fans today will ever know. From Thunder Road to starting MRN, to bringing live TV to the sport, his knowledge and passion may never be seen again. God speed my friend.”
“Ken Squier was there when Nascar was introduced to the rest of the world in 1979 for the Daytona 500,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote. “I’m convinced that race would have not had its lasting impact had Ken not been our lead narrator. We still ride the wave of that momentum created on that day. Kens words and energy were perfection on a day when Nascar needed it. I am forever grateful for his major role in growing stock car racing. RIP.”
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