Ken Squier: He Both Made And Reported On Cup History

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 13 2023

Cale Yarborough and the Allison brothers put on a big show at Daytona in 1979. Fans at home had the event described to them by Ken Squier. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Ken Squier, the legendary broadcasting personality who played a major role in elevating NASCAR into a national sport, celebrated his 88th birthday on Monday.

The racing bug bit the Waterbury, Vt. native at an early age. Squier, whose on-air career began at the age of 12 at a radio station owned by his father, began working the Public Address at a dirt track two years later.

In 1960, Squier tried his hand at promoting when he opened Thunder Road, a high-banked, paved short track oval in Barre, Vt.

Squier leveraged his friendship with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. to launch the Motor Racing Network in 1970. Squier’s famous voice resonated during many MRN broadcasts throughout the 1970s, before he made the jump to television later that decade.

As NASCAR’s popularity began to explode in the southeast with drivers such as Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Benny Parsons and Darrell Waltrip paving the way, Squier envisioned presenting the sport to the entire country.

Squier is credited for convincing CBS to take a chance on NASCAR and broadcast the 1979 Daytona 500 from start-to-finish.

The stars were perfectly aligned that afternoon as one of the greatest races in auto racing history unfolded.

Ken Squire and Richard Petty both have a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

The Allison brothers and Yarborough tangled on the backstretch early in the race and slid harmlessly into the muddy grass.

The moment foreshadowed what is today viewed as one of the most iconic moments in motorsports.

On the final lap, the Oldsmobiles driven by Donnie Allison and Yarborough collided midway down the backstretch while battling for the lead and the most-coveted prize in stock car racing.

The duo managed to destroy both cars, and both came to rest just inside of Turn 3.

The stunned, sold out crowd watched as Petty inherited the lead and fended off Waltrip and A.J. Foyt to win the Daytona 500 for a record-setting sixth time.

Squier’s call of the entire incident was pure magic.

And just as the nation was catching its collective breath over the finish, Squier said “and there’s a fight.”

The Allisons and Yarborough were throwing haymakers on national TV. And Squier was suddenly forced to go from auto racing to boxing announcer. He never missed a beat.

The broadcast earned record ratings for CBS and was the catalyst for making Petty, Pearson, Yarborough, Parsons, Waltrip and the Allisons household names throughout the country.

Squier’s full-time career as a television broadcaster came to an end in July 2014 at his NASCAR home track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

Here’s how the pioneer signed off that afternoon on TNT:

“Hello everyone, I’m Ken Squier. And as the engines have fired at New Hampshire, I remind you that this is the final NASCAR broadcast for Turner Sports. I was the play-by-play announcer for TBS for 18 years. Beginning in the very first year of NASCAR coverage, 1983. It’s been a real honor to be a part of today’s broadcast, and I wish my colleagues the very best today on TNT. As this amazing, 32-year run comes to a close, I hope you enjoy today’s race.”

Squier was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2018.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 13 2023
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