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Ken Squier, a Legend of Vermont and NASCAR, Dies at 88

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Published November 16, 2023 at 1:58 p.m.


Ken Squier in 1999 - FILE: PAULA ROUTLY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Paula Routly ©️ Seven Days
  • Ken Squier in 1999
Ken Squier, the Vermonter who built Thunder Road Speedbowl, owned WDEV radio and became a legendary voice of NASCAR, died on Wednesday night. He was 88.

Squier's passing was commemorated with a two-hour broadcast on WDEV on Thursday morning, according to general manager Steve Cormier, with callers ranging from family members to close friends to longtime listeners who had grown up with Squier's voice.

A Waterbury native, Squier got his start in broadcasting as a boy at his father’s radio station, WDEV. He later took over the station and would spend decades hosting a twice-daily sports show and quirky weekly program called “Music to Go to the Dump By.” He also built Thunder Road in Barre and owned it for more than 50 years before selling the race track in 2017.

But Squier is perhaps best known nationally for his efforts to promote NASCAR, a sport that he described as “common men doing uncommon things.”



In 1970, he cofounded Motor Racing Network, a radio company that still broadcasts NASCAR races to this day. He’s also credited with selling the idea of flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500 — "The Great American Race," as he coined it — to CBS and went on to voice the first-ever broadcast in 1979.

That race, still considered one of the best in history, ended with a crash in the final lap that led to fisticuffs between two drivers.
“I’m convinced that race would have not had its lasting impact had Ken not been our lead narrator,” Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the sport's most famous drivers, tweeted on Thursday. “We still ride the wave of that momentum created on that day.”

Squier would go on to call every Daytona 500 for the next 18 years. In 2018, he became the first broadcaster to be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Squier apparently wasn't convinced he was worthy of such an honor. “I really believe those awards in the Hall of Fame should be for those who sat in those cars,” he told NASCAR.com.

But those around the sport believed otherwise. In a statement on Thursday, NASCAR chair and CEO Jim France credited Squier with contributing as much to the growth of the sport as any driver.

"Ken was a superb storyteller and his unmistakable voice is the soundtrack to many of NASCAR’s greatest moments," France said. "His calls on TV and radio brought fans closer to the sport, and for that he was a fan favorite."
Gov. Phil Scott, who spoke at Squier's 2018 Hall of Fame induction, said in a statement that he was mourning the loss of “a true Vermont legend and dear friend.”

“I will always cherish the memories of all the time we spent together, and be thankful for his mentorship, humor, creativity and passion,” said Scott, a longtime stock-car driver who knew Squier for decades. "He often described those racing as ‘common men doing uncommon things.’ But in reality he was describing himself — because Ken was indeed a very common man who did extraordinary things.” 

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