Ken Squier, the talented broadcaster and visionary track owner who became the “voice of NASCAR Cup racing” and who once described the sport as “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” received the prestigious NASCAR Buddy Shuman Award during the 2012 NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Award Luncheon recently in Las Vegas. The Shuman award is sponsored Federal-Mogul’s Champion brand of spark plugs, wipers and chemical additives.
Squier is the 56th recipient of the award, which is presented annually to an individual who has played a key role in the continued growth and success of Cup racing. The award was established in memory of early NASCAR Grand National driver and chief technical inspector Louis Grier “Buddy” Shuman, a beloved figure who died tragically in a hotel fire in 1955.
For more than 20 years, Squier provided lap-by-lap commentary during NASCAR Cup telecasts and is credited with convincing CBS to offer flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500 beginning in 1979. His timing couldn’t have been better: The broadcast was seen by millions who were kept at home by a major East Coast storm, and those who tuned in witnessed the legendary trackside fistfight between drivers Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. Squier was the first to describe the annual Cup Series opener as “The Great American Race” and introduced a number of innovations including the in-car camera to motorsports telecasts.
“Ken helped bring not only a voice, but also a face, to Cup racing,” said Michael Proud, director of marketing, North America, Federal-Mogul. “During every race there are dozens of drivers out there battling for track position. He was the first to bring those drivers’ personalities into the race coverage. That was a huge step that helped make the sport much more accessible for millions of fans.”
Squier announced his first stock car race, at Morrisville (Vt.) Speedway, at 14. He announced and promoted races at area tracks throughout the 1950s and ’60s. In 1960, at age 21, he built the quarter-mile Thunder Road International SpeedBowl in Barre, Vt., and in 1969 was co-founder of the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
For all of his success in racing, Squier is first and foremost a broadcaster. The Vermont native began working at his father’s radio station, WDEV, at age 12 and is now president and owner of Radio Vermont, Inc., which operates several stations.