Vermont broadcast legend Ken Squier dies at 88

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:31 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 9:49 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Legendary auto racing announcer Ken Squier has died. The NASCAR Hall of Famer passed away after a lengthy illness at the age of 88.

Vermont’s own Ken Squier was the voice of NASCAR on television for nearly two decades. And he was a central figure in turning what was largely a southern and rural pastime into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Long before his rise to network sportscaster, Squier was announcing races at the humble short tracks of Vermont as a teenager. He later built a couple of those tracks -- including the heralded Thunder Road in Barre and Catamount Speedway in Milton. But even as he grew racing in Vermont, Squier was drawn to the NASCAR circuit across the south. Broadcasting was also in his blood. His father, LLoyd, owned WDEV in Waterbury. Squier combined his passions to launch the Motor Racing Network in 1970, calling races for a nationwide radio audience.

But Squier also saw the promise of television and convinced CBS in 1979 that NASCAR deserved live flag to flag coverage on nationwide TV. He served as the voice of NASCAR on CBS and TBS from 1979 to 1999 and was beloved by fans for his knowledge and passion for the sport.

After his days in the broadcast booth, Squier was honored many times over with a documentary film snd in 2018, with his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where he was introduced by Vermont racer and governor, Phil Scott. “I hope that you’ll take that message along that this sport is so special, so unique, and so beautiful in so many ways,” Squier said at the time.

Squier was also a charter member of both the Vermont Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. Through out his life, Squier continued to promote racing in Vermont, growing Thunder Road into a venue that still attracts thousands every week. And he continued to own and operate the Radio Vermont Group and the flagship station WDEV.

When Squier fell gravely ill with COVID in 2020, hundreds of listeners sent cards with well-wishes. Squier was soon back at WDEV a few months later to celebrate the station’s 90th anniversary. “It is an incredible gift that all of these people have stayed with us over the years and have made it such a great radio station,” he said.

“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.”

Gov. Phil Scott in a statement Thursday said that he and many others are mourning the loss of a “true Vermont legend.”

“What I will remember most was his friendship and deep devotion to his community, which was the entire state. Ken was always looking for opportunities to give back and help those in need. He instilled those values as the backbone of Radio Vermont, which has been an essential part of the fabric of Vermont since its creation – always finding new ways to support more and more Vermonters,” Gov. Scott said.

WDEV’s current manager, Steve Cormier, described Squier as a mentor for many Vermont broadcasters. “He cared about his town, he cared about his state, and he wanted to make sure people got access to not fake news -- real news by local people telling you what’s going on in your community and state,” he said.

Many Vermonters locally and racing legends nationally paid their respects to Ken Squier across social media, with comments like these on X/Twitter:

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