If you grew up watching NASCAR, there’s no doubt you’re familiar with Ken Squier. The legendary broadcaster served as the voice of NASCAR’s television coverage for decades, and was the commentator for the first NASCAR race ever aired in its entirety on TV – the 1979 Daytona 500.
It was that race that cemented Squier’s reputation as one of the best announcers in NASCAR, with his iconic call of Richard Petty taking the checkered flag as a fight broke out between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison in the infield.
In fact, it was Squier who pushed NASCAR to broadcast their races from flag-to-flag, believing that there was enough interest that people would watch an entire race on TV during a time when generally only the highlights were shown after the race.
Squier served as the voice of NASCAR on CBS from 1979 to 1997, and was also in the booth for TBS from 1983-1999. He was eventually replaced by current Fox commentator Mike Joy, but remained in the sport as an analyst until NASCAR ended its relationship with Turner Sports in 2014.
He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2018, and is also a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately it was revealed recently that Squier was at the end of his life and had been moved into hospice care. And yesterday, the legendary broadcaster passed away at the age of 88.
After the news of his passing, the NASCAR community began pouring out to pay tribute to the longtime voice of their sport.
A statement from NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France honored Squier as “a superb storyteller” and a “fan favorite.”
“Though he never sat behind the wheel of a stock car, Ken Squier contributed to the growth of NASCAR as much as any competitor. Ken was a superb storyteller and his unmistakable voice is the soundtrack to many of NASCAR’s greatest 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. On behalf of the France family and all of NASCAR, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of Ken Squier.”
And Dale Earnhardt Jr. credited Squier with pushing NASCAR into the mainstream:
“Ken Squier was there when Nascar was introduced to the rest of the world in 1979 for the Daytona 500. 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”
Ken Squier was there when Nascar was introduced to the rest of the world in 1979 for the Daytona 500. 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…
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. pic.twitter.com/AnDxPha46I
Just listening to Ken Squier was a master class in broadcasting, producing, race promoting, building relationships, the business of TV and racing, and so much more. His advice and good counsel breathed life into the careers of many of us who tried to follow his footsteps.