WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) — Ken Squier, a longtime motorsports announcer and broadcaster, has died. He was 88.
Squier died Wednesday night in Waterbury, Vermont, according to the management of the local WDEV radio, which he owned.
“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. “Ken was a superb storyteller and his unmistakable voice is the soundtrack to many of NASCAR's greatest moments.”
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.”
Much will be made of "the NASCAR Hall of Famer’s extraordinary contributions to racing — from his time in the booth at CBS, where he coined the phrase ‘The Great American Race’, to his founding of the ‘Nation’s Site of Excitement’ at Thunder Road,” the governor posted on social media. “His impacts on the sport are too numerous to count, and he deserves every one of those recognitions and many more. But for me, what I will remember most was his friendship and deep devotion to his community, which was the entire state.”
Squier was the co-founder of MRN, the Motor Racing Network, with Bill France, Sr. in 1970, and would serve as lead announcer on the network for much of the next decade. In the late 70s, he would transition to television, serving as the lead announcer for many tape delayed events on CBS' Sports Spectacular program.
Squire was a leading voice in bringing live, flag-to-flag coverage of events such as NASCAR's Daytona 500 to television screens. That push culminated in 1979, when the first complete running of what Squire dubbed the "Great American Race" aired, garnering large TV ratings and becoming a major part of the television sports landscape.
Squire would continue to work as lead analyst for CBS' Daytona 500 broadcast for many years before moving to the role of studio host in 1998. In the preceding years, Squire would act as lead commentator for races on both CBS and the Atlanta based TBS Superstation, where he was also a producer on the weekly "Motorweek Illustrated" racing news program. Squire also was the lead on broadcasts of CART, IndyCar, Formula One, and sports car events.
In recent years, Squire served as the lead announcer on NASCAR race weekends at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, where he worked with several current race broadcasters, including PRN Radio's Doug Turnbull.
AccessWDUN's Brandon Reed contributed to this story.