Vermonters and the stock car racing world are mourning the death of Ken Squier, a legendary broadcaster, member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and founder of Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre.
Squier died at his home in Waterbury on Wednesday at age 88.
“Stock car racing flourished and continues to this day because of Ken Squier,” Thunder Road officials said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Our thoughts are with the Squier family as well as all of those who’s life that he touched.”
Steve Cormier, general manager of WDEV radio, a station founded by Squier’s father and owned by Ken, said Squier was the prototypical larger-than-life man who was “just a real down-to-earth guy and treated everybody the same.
“This morning we did a two hour show about Ken, and if Ken were here he would’ve been upset that we put the spotlight on him,” Cormier said.
Squier is credited with bringing NASCAR into American living rooms for the first time. In 1979, he helped land a deal with for CBS’ coverage of the Daytona 500, which he led until 1997.
“He had an incredible ability to do the radio broadcasting and paint the picture which radio does, and on the television side he’d put captions under pictures,” said Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Fox NASCAR broadcaster Mike Joy said Squier is largely responsible for NASCAR’s growth and success. “The way he could turn a phrase and the way he could get people to care about the drivers, respect them as athletes and look up to them as heroes, was just masterful,” Joy said.
But Squier and his family have been importanbt to Vermont for much longer.His father, Lloyd, founded WDEV in 1931, assing on owneerhsip to his son in 1979.
IN 1960, Ken Squier founded Thunder Road Speedbowl, and he continued to play an active ownership role until ajust a few years ago.
“It was like talking to your friend, you know?” said Cris Michaud, the current owner of Thunder Road. “The best way to describe Ken is, ‘He’s one of us.'”
Others in the world of stock- car racing — including Vermont Gov. Phil Scott — were quick to express their sorrow at Squier’s passing and acknowledge his impact on the sport.
Scott, a stockcar racer who competed for the first time at Thunder Road two decades ago, called Squier “a true Vermont legend and dear friend.”
“[W]hat I will remember most was his friendship and deep devotion to his community, which was the entire state,” Scott said. “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.”
NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt Jr. also posted about the broadcaster’s death on social media.
“Ken Squier was there when Nascar was introduced to the rest of the world in 1979 for the Daytona 500,” Earnhardt said on X.
“I’m convinced that race would have not had its lasting impact had Ken not been our lead narrator,” he said. “We still ride the wave of that momentum created on that day. Kens words and energy were perfection on a day when Nascar needed it. I am forever grateful for his major role in growing stock car racing. RIP.”