The five 2013 inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame — Buck Baker, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood — will headline the show during the induction ceremonies Friday night in Charlotte.
But that doesn’t diminish the importance of a new award created to recognize indelible contributions to the tapestry of NASCAR racing or to the first two recipients, for whom the award is named.
At dinner preceding the induction ceremony, broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall will be recognized as the first two recipients of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Earlier that afternoon, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will unveil an exhibit created in their honor.
NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France, vice chairman and executive vice president Jim France, NASCAR vice chairwoman and executive vice president and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy and NASCAR president Mike Helton all embraced the idea of recognizing the contributions of motorsports journalists and broadcasters.
“As the initial idea was presented to Mike, Brian, Jim and Lesa, there was no hesitation,” said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR vice president and chief communications officer. “It was like, ‘Yep. Do it.'”
Jewkes and NASCAR’s Integrated Marketing Communications department drove the implementation of the award after the executives signed off.
“I think that honoring the media in the NASCAR Hall of Fame is very important, because I think the role they’ve played in promoting the sport, building the sport, telling the stories of the drivers and great events and personalities is central to the growth of NASCAR,” Jewkes said.
“I think it’s important that it has this permanent place to be honored within the Hall of Fame. I think it will be very popular. I think the fans are going to really enjoy seeing some of the artifacts that the honorees have over time, and I think it’s going to be a nice addition to the ceremonies as well.”
Squier got his start in NASCAR broadcasting in 1970 as a co-founder of the Motorsports Radio Network (MRN), but he’s perhaps best known for his call for CBS Sports of the 1979 Daytona 500 — and the fight between Bobby and Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough that followed the race.
Hall was the first track announcer at Bristol Motor Speedway. After a decade-long career in local radio, he joined MRN as a turn announcer and by the late 1970s was a fixture in the booth. To many fans, Hall is the voice of NASCAR racing.
“If you look at two people that have all the things that Hall of Fame announcers have in the other sports — they have longevity, they are a clear part of the soundtrack of the history of the sport,” Jewkes said. “You cannot think of the ’79 Daytona 500 without Ken Squier’s voice popping into your head.
“Broadcasters and media and good writing — they become part of the fabric and the culture of the sport, and we would be very hard-pressed to find anyone who’s more the embodiment of that than Ken and Barney.”