Friday, July 3, 2009
Hall of Fame TV Show Comes In Nick Of Time
There is nothing like the distinctive voice of future NASCAR Hall of Fame member Ken Squier to bring the sport back in focus just in the nick of time.
That is a young Squier on the right, hosting a Thunder Road Speedbowl awards banquet in the early 1960's. Squire, then a local radio station owner, still co-owns that track in Barre, VT. Click on the picture to see it full-size.
At long last, the first full list of names was released detailing the nominees for the new NASCAR Hall of Fame. It was a Thursday night TV special on SPEED that served that purpose.
Produced by the NASCAR Media Group, the program originated from the still-under-construction interior of the Hall. Squier was alone, although briefly visited by Brian France and NASCAR Historian Buzz McKim.
These days, this type of setting is where Squier is at his best. Stripped of the roaring engines and the color announcers, Squier simply talked about the people he knows so well. In his no-nonsense New England style, Squier introduced names and faces that already have a distinguished place in the sport. Soon, that status may change. The Hall of Fame now awaits.
The producers broke the nominees up into several groups presented in chronological order. That overlayed an easy to understand theme for even the most casual fan. Navigating from the early days of the sport to the Darrell Waltrip era was not a simple task. Thankfully, there was something to help with the journey.
Once again, it was the use of historic footage that put the NASCAR Media Group stamp on this program. For veteran fans, it was a chance to celebrate the past and remember the roots of the sport. Younger viewers may have seen NASCAR legends like Junior Johnson and Fireball Roberts for the very first time.
Nothing serves to put the current issues of the sport in perspective better than seeing the struggles of those who raced in the past. Long before full-face helmets, soft walls and the COT there was a very different style of racing and a very different breed of driver.
With all of the off-track distractions weighing on the sport right now, this simple one hour show did a very nice job of reminding the TV audience of the real reasons millions of Americans flock to watch NASCAR races.
Nowhere in today's modern culture is there a dynamic sports story of risk and dedication like NASCAR. As Squier said, the element of danger and the courage it took to face new racing challenges for the first time is a very unique slice of American history.
Click here for the NASCAR.com page that allows fans to vote for their five nominees from the twenty-five men on the list. This interactive element is a great piece of this new puzzle and points to the fact that Winston Kelly and his Hall of Fame team put this process together with care.
This is a weekend where Jeremy Mayfield is rumored to be headed for Daytona. Goodyear is again struggling with tire issues. The forecast at the track is for thunderstorms. Bill Weber was fired by TNT. Michael Jackson's death is still dominating the cable news networks. An upbeat story is hard to find.
Perhaps, Squier and his Thursday night TV program can serve to redirect the conversations among the teams and fans to which five nominees should make the NASCAR Hall on this first ballot. Talking about the courage, honor and determination of twenty-five distinguished Americans is a very nice way to move gracefully into this holiday weekend.
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