Kenley Dean Squier
April 10, 1935
Waterbury, Vermont, U.S.
|Known for||Commentator on MRN, CBS Sports and TBS for NASCAR races|
Kenley Dean Squier (born April 10, 1935) is an American sportscaster and motorsports editor from Waterbury, Vermont. From 1979 to 1997, he served as the lap-by-lap commentator for NASCAR on CBS, and was also a lap-by-lap commentator for TBS from 1983-1999. Squier was the first announcer to give lap-by-lap commentary for the Daytona 500 in 1979. He coined the term "The Great American Race" for the Daytona 500 and helped introduce the Australian developed in-car camera for the 1982 running of the event. He lives in Stowe, Vermont.
Squier's father, Lloyd, owned and operated WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont, and Ken began his on-air work at age 12 (when Lloyd Squier died in 1979, Ken Squier inherited the station and remains its principal owner and CEO). Squier's racing announcing career began when he announced a stockcar race from the back of an old logging truck at a tiny dirt track in Vermont at age 14. He was the announcer at Malletts Bay and the Northeastern Speedway as well as the Monadnock Speedway in the 1950s. In 1960 he opened Thunder Road International SpeedBowl, the Barre, Vermont, quarter-mile oval (sold in April 2017).
Squier was among a group of six men who founded Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vermont, which operated from 1965-1987. He was a frequent announcer at this track dubbed "The Home of the Brave".
Squier believed that people would watch the entire Daytona 500. "It was a tough sell," he said. "There was a general feeling that this was more of a novelty thing and that it wouldn't work on a national level." On February 18, 1979, CBS aired the 1979 running of the "Great American Race" flag-to-flag. Television ratings were high, in part because a major snowstorm on the East Coast kept millions of viewers indoors. Richard Petty won the race, but a fight between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough made headlines throughout the United States.
For the next 20 years, beginning in 1981, various TV stations would get NASCAR coverage on various tracks: CBS, TBS, TNN, ESPN, ABC, and NBC. Squier would work for CBS and TBS over this time, covering half of the Winston Million races--the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600.
Squier ended his career as a lap-by-lap commentary in 1997 and was replaced in the booth by Mike Joy. Squier had announced every Daytona 500 from 1979 to 1997. Squier became the studio host, where he remained until 2000. Squier was also present in the Fox Sports studio during pre-race and post-race coverage of Daytona Speedweeks and the 2001 Daytona 500, as well as the first-ever regular season Sprint Cup Series event televised by Fox.
On July 13, 2014, NASCAR on TNT broadcast its final race at the Camping World RV Sales 301. After the Pre-race show was complete, Squier said goodbye to NASCAR on TNT in this speech:
Hello everyone, I'm Ken Squier. And as the engines have fired at New Hampshire, I remind you that this is the final NASCAR broadcast for Turner Sports. I was the play-by-play announcer for TBS for 18 years. Beginning in the very first year of NASCAR coverage, 1983. It's been a real honor to be a part of today's broadcast, and I wish my colleagues the very best today on TNT. As this amazing, 32-year run comes to a close, I hope you enjoy today's race.
In September 2015, it was announced Squier would call part of the Bojangles' Southern 500 race as part of a throwback weekend for NASCAR to celebrate the years 1970-1974. Squier was joined by Ned Jarrett and his son Dale Jarrett. As part of the deal with Darlington with its throwback theme for the next several years, the trio called part of the race again in 2016 as the years 1975-1984 were celebrated. They returned in the same capacity for 2017. Squier got some media reaction after nicknaming Erik Jones That Jones Boy for his very hot top 5 streak.
Squier's unique broadcasting style featured grandiose words and colorful metaphors. He often described NASCAR drivers in his era as "common men doing uncommon things". He called a last-lap battle at the 1979 Daytona 500 as "two of the greatest, fiddling, fidgeting with first place" and summed up Dale Earnhardt's wreck at the 1997 Daytona 500 with: "A true American hero, stymied another time at Daytona." His many catchphrases included describing wrecks as "side over side, end over end" and calling wrecked racecars "all torn up". A battle for position involving a large pack of cars drew comparisons to "an Oklahoma land rush." Drivers battling side by side would be "door handle to door handle" or "knuckle to knuckle". He was also known for the ability to switch between the "radio" style of broadcasting and "TV" styles. One of the best-known examples was the 1981 Talladega 500, when with a handful of laps to go the video went out and only the audio remained. Squier called the final laps and described Ron Bouchard's upset victory in typical style: "Three cars came out of the tri-oval, lined up like a squadron of P-51s out of World War Two and down they came to the line!"
Squier also announced CBS Sports' occasional CART IndyCar broadcasts in the 1990s as well as hosted the 1982 Individual Speedway World Championship from the Los Angeles Coliseum alongside four-time Speedway World Champion Barry Briggs of New Zealand and pit reporter Dave Despain. He has also announced in a wide range of sports outside of auto racing, including ice skating, golf, and tennis. He has announced outside of the United States, including Australia, Japan, and Europe. He was a play-by-play announcer for CBS' United States coverage of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville and the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Since 2013, he is an announcer on the television show R U Faster Than a Redneck?.
Squier has acted in several movies, primarily as an announcer.