Kenley Dean "Ken" Squier (born April 10, 1935) is an American sportscaster and motorsports editor from Waterbury, Vermont. From 1979-1997, he was the lap-by-lap commentator for NASCAR on CBS, and was also a lap-by-lap commentator for TBS from the time they had rights to NASCAR until 2000. Squier was the first announcer to give lap-by-lap commentary on the Daytona 500 in 1979. He coined the term "The Great American Race" for the Daytona 500, and developed the in-car camera for the 1982 Daytona 500. He lives in Stowe, Vermont.
Sports announcing career
Squier's father Lloyd owned and operated WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont and Ken began his on-air work at age 12 (When Lloyd Squier died in 1979, Ken Squier inherited the station and remains its principal owner and CEO). Squier's racing announcing career began when he announced a stockcar race from the back of an old logging truck at a tiny dirt track in Vermont at age 14. He was the announcer at Mallets Bay and the Northeastern Speedway as well as the Monadnock Speedway in the 1950s. In 1960 he opened Thunder Road International SpeedBowl, the Barre, Vermont quarter-mile oval which he still owns.
Squier was among a group of six men who founded Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vermont, which operated from 1965 - 1987. He was a frequent announcer at this track dubbed "The Home of the Brave".
Squier co-founded Motor Racing Network in 1969. He announced races on the network for several years before moving to television in the later 1970s.
Squier believed that people would watch the entire 200-lap Daytona 500. "It was a tough sell," Squier said. "There was a general feeling that this was more of a novelty thing and that it wouldn't work on a national level." On February 18, 1979; CBS aired "The Great American Race" flag-to-flag. Television ratings were high, in part because a major snowstorm on the East Coast kept millions of viewers indoors. Richard Petty won the race, but the fight between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough made headlines throughout the United States.
For the next 20 years, beginning in 1981, various TV stations would get NASCAR coverage on various tracks: CBS, TBS, TNN, ESPN, ABC, and NBC. Squier would work for CBS and TBS over this time frame, covering half of the Winston Million races: Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600.
Squier stopped lap-by-lap announcing in 1997, and was replaced in the booth by Mike Joy. Squier had announced every Daytona 500 from 1979 to 1997. Squier became the studio host, where he remained until 2000. Squier was also present in the Fox Sports studio during pre-race and post-race coverage of Daytona Speedweeks and the 2001 Daytona 500 and, the first-ever regular season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event televised by Fox.
On July 13, 2014, NASCAR on TNT broadcast its final race at the Camping World RV Sales 301. After the Pre-race show was complete, Squier said goodbye to NASCAR on TNT in this speech:
"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 colleague's the very best today on TNT. As this amazing, 32 year run, comes to a close. I hope you enjoy today's race."
Squier now contributes to the Speed Channel's NASCAR coverage, working as a co-host during Speed's coverage of Daytona Speedweeks.
Squier had a unique broadcasting style, he often described NASCAR drivers in his era as "common men doing uncommon things" and describing wrecks as "side over side, end over end" for flips and for calling wrecked racecars with the phrase "all torn up". A battle for position involving a large pack of cars would periodically be referred to as "an Oklahoma land rush." He was also known for the ability to switch between the "radio" style of broadcasting and "TV" styles. One of the biggest examples was the 1981 Talladega 500 when video went out and only the audio remained and he called the final laps when Ron Bouchard won.
Announcer in other sports
Squier also announced CBS Sports' occasional CART IndyCar broadcasts in the 1990s as well as hosting the 1982 Individual Speedway World Championship from the Los Angeles Coliseum alongside four time Speedway World Champion Barry Briggs of New Zealand and pit reporter Dave Despain. He has also announced in a wide range of sports outside of auto racing, including ice skating, golf, and tennis. He has announced outside of the United States, including Australia, Japan, and Europe. He was a play-by-play announcer for CBS' United States coverage of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville and the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Since 2013, he is an announcer on the television show R U Faster Than a Redneck?.
Squier has acted in several movies, primarily as an announcer.
- The Cannonball Run (1981)
- Stroker Ace (1983)
- Rad (1986)
- CMT 40 Greatest NASCAR Moments
- Daytona 500: Drama, Danger, Dedication
- He helped co-found Motor Racing Network, as well as his play by play announcing on the network.
- President/Owner of Radio Vermont, Inc. and its radio stations WDEV, WLVB, and WCVT.
- Co-founded World Sports Enterprises with Fred Rheinstein, the first television production company to specialize in motorsports. It was sold to The Nashville Network in 1995 and to CBS in 1997. WSE was closed by MTV Networks.
- Owner and Founder of Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Barre, VT.
- Founder of the American Canadian Tour late model racing series.
- Former Co-Owner of Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, NY.
Halls of fame
- He was in the Oceanside Rotary Club of Daytona Beach Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in 2000.
- Squier was inducted in the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2002.
- He was a charter member of the Vermont Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
- He was awarded the 2003 Smokey Yunick Award for his lifelong contributions to motorsports.
- 2012 inductee to the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame
- Henry T. McLenore Motorsports Press Award - Journalism
- Buddy Shuman Award, Motor Racing Network - Radio Race Coverage
- E.M.P.A. Art Peck Award - Announcer
- Eastern Motor Sport Press Association Award - Journalism
- Vermont Sportscaster of the Year - 1963, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1997
- Flock Award, Charlotte Motor Speedway - 1987
- "Ken Squier, BAM Racing, Sylvania, Post-Race Press Conferences & Special Guests on Sunday Sept. 17, 2006", Retrieved May 31, 2007
- "Ken Squier to receive Smokey Yunick Award", September 8, 2003 article at motorsport.com, Retrieved May 31, 2007
- Biography at the Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame, Retrieved May 30, 2007
- Biography at the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame, Retrieved May 30, 2007
- "NASCAR still setting standards for innovation in TV sports", February 15, 2003, theautochannel.com, Retrieved May 31, 2007
- "Squier is the king of Vermont radio", February 1, 2000 Vermont Business Magazine, Retrieved May 31, 2007
- Biography at Yahoo, Retrieved May 30, 2007