Ken Squier, Legendary NASCAR Broadcaster And Former Thunder Road Owner, Passes 

Ken Squier (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ken Squier, a giant in the history of NASCAR broadcasting and part of the fabric of the Northeast short track racing scene, passed away Wednesday.

Squier, a native of Waterbury, Vt., was 88. 

Squier was a colorful and dramatic wordsmith as an announcer and that unique style made him one of the most recognizable voices of NASCAR events on television for decades through the sport’s meteoric rise from southeastern staple to nationally prominent sport. 

“The state of NASCAR would not be where it is today were it not for the passion and the dedication of Ken Squier,” longtime motorsports broadcaster Jack Arute III said. “He’s the one that convinced CBS to televise races flag to flag. He’s the one that coined the phrase ‘The Great American Race’. There’s so many things he pushed and made happen himself. … He sold the value of covering the Daytona 500 to CBS as a live event.” 

Said current Thunder Road International Speedbowl co-owner Cris Michaud: “He was second to none in racing [in Vermont]. He was just huge. You can’t even describe to people how big he was to racing in this area.” 

Squier was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2018. He got his start in broadcasting at 12 years old at the radio station WDEV in Waterbury, Vt., which was owned by his father. Squier began his career as a track announcer at 14 years old and worked at numerous short tracks in the Northeast through the 1950’s. 

Squier developed Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt. and opened the track in 1960. Squier launched the iconic Milk Bowl at Thunder Road in 1962. 

Squier sold the track before the 1977 season before reacquiring the facility in 1979 in partnership with the late Tom Curley. Squier and Curley sold Thunder Road to its current owners Michaud and Pat Malone in 2017. 

In conjunction with Curley, Squier founded the NASCAR North Tour in 1979, which would eventually morph into the American-Canadian Tour. Michaud and Malone would also take over ownership of the ACT in 2017. 

“What he did at Thunder Road and for racing [in Vermont] was just huge,” Michaud said. “Ken actually put Pat and I together when we purchased Thunder Road. Pat and I were each talking to Ken and Tom separately about purchasing Thunder Road and Ken actually put us together. Ken had the vision that I knew the racing business and Pat knew the construction business and development business. He put us together and obviously it turned out pretty well. 

“When we took things over our offices were above his radio station, WDEV. Ken continued to visit me at least once a week and give me his critiques of what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. And then he would talk to our media people on what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong. He’s always been a huge part of what we were doing right up until this summer.” 

Squier was also part of the group that developed the former Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vt., which operated from 1965 to 1987. 

Squier was inducted into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2002.

“There’s no question that if you want to look at the two people over the last 50 years that saved the sport of racing in the Northeast, it was my dad and Ken Squier,” Arute said. “The rest of us … whoever you want to name, we were just bit players in their leadership.” 

In 1970 Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. Squier began his career as a television motorsports announcer in the early 1970’s with CBS Sports. 

Squier was part of the announcing team for CBS in 1979 when the network was the first to broadcast the Daytona 500 live in its entirety. Squier would go on to be a lead commentator for live coverage of NASCAR event for numerous networks until 1997 and continued on as a studio host in various capacities. Over the years Squier also broadcast IndyCar events, Formula One events and numerous other sports. He was part of the broadcast team for CBS Sports’ coverage of the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. 

Squier laid the foundation for a parade of Northeast natives becoming major parts and familiar names in the national landscape of NASCAR and motorsports broadcasting over the last 50 years, which included Arute, Mike Joy, Dick Berggren, Allen Bestwick, Mike Massaro, Dave Moody, Kyle Rickey and others. 

Sunday Squier was scheduled to be honored, along with Joy, Berggren and Arute as part of Legends Day at the New England Racing Museum in Loudon, N.H. Squier was unable to attend. 

“He’s the hub of the wheel,” Arute said of Squier. “He’s the main reason for guys like me and Mike Joy and Allen Bestwick and Dave Moody, all the people who now populate or have populated broadcasting from the Northeast.  

“We all agreed that he gave all of us, in one way or another, gave us start. He mentored us throughout our careers.”

Ken Squier at his NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on January 19, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


  1. Dr Robert Neville says

    Thank you for everything you did for racing and the state of Vermont, rest in piece Ken.

  2. I always knew it was speedweeks when I heard his voice. Gods speed sir. And thank you!!!

  3. This man was such an influential person and did so much for auto racing in general to help it get to where it is. Anyone who has watched, been to, or participated in racing, particularly in the northeast, owes a huge amount of thanks and appreciation to Mr. Squier for all he did to move the sport forward. If God is a race fan and has a race track, I’m sure that’s exactly where he is right now. Thank-you and God Speed Ken.

  4. Dad gum fast one you’re getting downright eloquent these days.
    Can’t beat that but have a different perspective. An aficionado of the long, well lived life. More positive after a passing if it’s after an extended, successful run, admiring the legacy more then grieving about the loss.
    During the pandemic Squier diagnosed with Covid19. His first reaction, spread the word on safety thinking about the bigger picture. The following June attending an event at Thunder Road that had a walk in clinic for Covid vaccinations. Squier refusing to be yet another celebrity victim of Covid instead turning his plight into a promotional opportunity for the greater good.
    There is something noble to the word “squire”. Gentleman frequently used in the definition. The spelling not the same but pronunciation is. He lived up to that last name for sure.

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