Remembering Ken Squier

Thunder Road founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer dies at 88
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 9:35 PM EST
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - After a decades long career in motorsports, Waterbury native Ken Squier died Wednesday night at the age of 88.

Squier started as a broadcaster covering small local tracks in Vermont, and he would eventually play a crucial role in NASCAR’s growth from regional sport to national attraction. Squier convinced CBS to broadcast the Daytona 500 flag to flag for the first time in 1979, coining the phrase “Great American Race” during that broadcast.

But here in Vermont, he’s best known as the founder and long-time owner of Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre. In six decades around the track, Squier made countless lifelong connections and left a lasting legacy.

Thunder Road founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer dies at 88

“He was the guy that would come up to your pit after the races and shoot the crap with you about the race, about what’s going on,” said Cris Michaud, a former track champion who together with Pat Malone bought Thunder Road from Squier in 2017. “He’d have a beer with you, then move down to the next pit. And it didn’t matter if you were a street stock, a road warrior, a late model. Everybody was important to Ken.”

“He was the one that made Thunder Road in my opinion,” added two-time King of the Road and Barre native Nick Sweet. “His name and what he has done for motorsports, that put Thunder Road on the map. We’re fortunate as people up here in Vermont to be able to do this and it’s something that we’re gonna try and carry on, especially in Ken’s name.”

Thunder Road founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer dies at 88

“I went there for the first time when I was six years old, and I didn’t really want to do anything else any different after that,” said Dave Moody, a NASCAR radio voice who got his start at the Nation’s Site of Excitement. “I really got to know Ken when he got busy with CBS in the late 1970s and needed somebody to replace him on the PA microphone. And for some strange reason that I’m still not sure of, he picked me. Very interesting guy away from the microphone, he loved a good joke, didn’t necessarily have to be the cleanest joke in the world. When the races were over at Thunder Road, he loved sitting on the tailgate of whoever’s pickup truck happened to be available and had a cooler full of cold beer on it. He was never the first one to leave, he was often the last one to leave. He really just enjoyed the camaraderie of the sport. He loved the people as much as the game, and I think that’s a big part of what made him special.”