Memorial: Ken Squier, Larger Than Life Figure In Motorsports And A Gift To Short Track Racing 

(The article below is a RaceDayCT column – The views expressed in this column are solely the opinion of the writer)

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

Through my 30-year career as a sports journalist I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the biggest sports celebrities out there, but I’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to meet some people in the realm of sports that just seemed larger than life to me. 

Ken Squier, who passed away Wednesday, was one of those larger than life people. 

From the time I was eight years old until I was 17 years old I lived on Shoemaker Lane in Agawam, Mass. 

When I was eight years old I went to my first Springfield Indians game with my uncle Joe. The Indians were a cornerstone of the American Hockey League. I was enthralled and fascinated by the game, but what I remember most about the day is reading through the program between periods. After the game, on our way home, my uncle Joe told me that I could read about the game we had just watched in the newspaper the next day. And the next day I picked up a newspaper for the first time in my life and read about the hockey game I went to. 

It was a day that set in place the first brick in the foundation of my life. After that day I began to read the sports section of the newspaper voraciously each day. I was not only becoming a sports fan, but I was also becoming a huge fan of the media that covered sports. 

About a quarter-mile down the street from my house on Shoemaker Lane was a banquet facility called Chez Josef. When I lived in Agawam the Basketball Hall of Fame held its induction dinner each year at Chez Josef. The evening of the dinner I would ride my bike over to Chez Josef and stand in the parking lot with a little notebook collecting autographs. 

Legends of the basketball world would stop and sign my notebook. But to the 11-year old me, the media folks in attendance were oddly bigger to me than the six-foot plus legends of basketball walking by. I wanted the autograph of the local sports anchor as badly as I wanted the autograph of Julius Erving. 

Much later in life those moments standing outside Chez Josef collecting autographs would oddly come full circle for me. 

I began working in the sports department at the Hartford Courant in September 1993. Over my years at the Courant, ownership of the newspaper would change hands a few times. At some point we were owned by the Tribune Company, which also owned the Fox 61 TV station in Hartford. In 2009 Tribune made the decision to move Fox 61 from its space in downtown Hartford to the Hartford Courant building. It meant the sports anchors from Fox 61 would have their desks in the sports department of the Courant. 

Through my years at the Courant covering plenty of UConn sports activities I got to know most of the local TV sports anchors, including Bob Rumbled from Fox 61. But it wasn’t until Bob Rumbold suddenly occupied the cubicle next to mine in my office that I shared with him something from my childhood. I dug out that old autograph notebook from when I was a kid. It included an autograph from Bob Rumbold, who was then a sports anchor for WWLP in Springfield, Mass. When I was 11 years old Bob Rumbold was a huge celebrity to me, and here it was decades later and we were colleagues with desks literally next to one another. It just reinforced to me how much sports media meant to me. 

When I was 11 years old the people that told the stories about sports were as big or bigger to me than the athletes themselves. And that really never changed for me. Even after decades involved in sports journalism, it always remained amazing to me when I got the chance to meet others in sports media that I looked up to. 

And Ken Squier was one of those people. 

I didn’t know a lot about NASCAR when I was a kid, but I watched enough sports to know what Ken Squier’s voice meant to motorsports. 

There’s no denying that Squier held a spot on the mountaintop of giant voices in sports. There are voices in sports that transcend even the term great. Names like Al Michaels, Vin Scully, Pat Summerall, Bob Costas, Keith Jackson, Dick Vitale. They were beyond giants. And Ken Squier was undoubtedly part of that group. 

When it comes to motorsports, in my opinion, the two people that transcended all the greats there have been are Ken Squier and Chris Economaki. They were the two voices that defined multiple decades of motorsports coverage in this country. Both were so refined and uniquely themselves and became part of the fabric of the history of motorsports in this country. 

And in the Northeast, Ken Squier’s existance also occupied another role beyond his status as a behemoth of broadcasting. 

He was a legendary leader, trend-setter and massive influence over short track racing through building and operating Thunder Road International Speedbowl and creating and nurturing the American-Canadian Tour. 

I began covering short track racing in New England in 1995 and covered my first event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 1997. I can’t remember exactly what year it was the first time I saw Ken Squier in the media center at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, I just know I was entirely gobsmacked the first moment I did see him. Obviously I was aware of his standing and involvement in motorsports in the Northeast, but there was a part of me – that little kid just amazed by sports media – who couldn’t believe I was looking across the room at Ken Squier just hanging out where I was working. 

Motorsports in the United States – in so many ways – is better for having had Ken Squier involved. And the same goes for short track racing in the Northeast. It’s almost impossible to put into words the enormity of what Ken Squier meant to it all. 


  1. Thanks Ken Squire for all the memories and sounds that you brilliantly gave us fans!

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