Thursday, April 12, 2012

NASCAR Hall Of Fame And The Media


We have been talking for the last two days about the NASCAR Hall of Fame and how to jump-start interest in getting fans to visit. One topic that repeatedly arose was whether or not members of the media should ultimately be included.

The names of Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and the late Benny Parsons did not make the nomination list for their contributions to TV. All three had careers in the sport long before making the transition to working as television analysts. Working in the NASCAR media is not currently a criteria for nomination.

The topic today are those media personalities who contributed to the sport but never drove a car, owned a team or turned a wrench. While there are several outstanding personalities who come to mind, the example for me is the man pictured above on the left, Ken Squier.

A Vermont native, Squier helped to establish MRN, the Motor Racing Network, to get the radio coverage of NASCAR syndicated across the country. He motivated CBS to show the Daytona 500 from start to finish, something unheard of in those days. Needless to say, one snowstorm and one fight later the rest is history. He coined the term "The Great American Race" for that event and after starting the World Sports Enterprises (WSE) TV production company, remained deeply entrenched in the television development of NASCAR for decades.

It was said that Squier could make a wheelbarrow race sound exciting. On the air, Squier worked to drive excitement in the sport by focusing on the speed, the danger and the personalities of the drivers. For many of us, Squier's voice was the TV voice of NASCAR as we grew up. His life has been racing.

We would like to get your opinion on whether or not key media personalities from TV, radio and journalism should be included in the Hall of Fame selection process in some way. Names like Barney Hall, Chris Economaki and Dr. Jerry Punch come to mind. Would it make sense to ultimately honor these personalities in some way? Should a media section be added outside of the current selection process?

We invite your opinion on this topic. To add your comment, just click on the comment button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

32 comments:

Buschseries61 said...

Absolutely, I actually didn't know that media work in the sport did not count. Who knows if we would have any broadcast to analyze without Ken's work.

ChrisKRacing said...

I don't think members of the media belong in the Hall of Fame. Their job is to cover the event, not be part of it, as you said in your recent column about the coverage of the Masters. Making them eligible for the Hall would make them part of the event. At some point you would end up with someone who had an undistinguished career as a driver, but was a good reporter ending up in the HoF along with the great drivers, and I think that would hurt the prestige of the Hall.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely absurd not to include people from the media. I also did not know this. MC

Roadgeek Adam said...

I don't get why, considering Squier and Economaki are both for all intents and purposes retired. I've been hoping Squier would make the list this year.

NASCAR wouldn't be as popular as it is if Ken Squier wasn't involved in 1979.

James said...

The Hof process had the opportunity to come full circle this year. The lack of Squier and Economaki will be seen by many as a real kick in the head to all the sports journalists who in many ways were also the promoters of the sport in its early days. Today for the most part they promote themselves, gone are the fair and honest reporting of the facts as they happen. Today it’s about self-promotion and absurd belief that fans love this new class of talking heads. NASCAR has certainly got what it wanted, again. Lets promote Rusty before we honor Squier and Economaki, after all HE WAS a champion, ONCE, a long time ago. You can make a real argument for Benny, he was also a champion, and he was one of the greatest ambassadors the sport has ever known. The fact that a person makes it to the list of the 25 nominees is an accomplishment of its own, it’s a SHAME that Waltrip begged his way into the hall. The bigger SHAME is that those who played a larger part in the process are not respected for their humility.

bobbydjr said...

I have no idea why broadcasters should be considered this soon into the process. There are way too many drivers, crew chiefs etc. that should go in before them. Give it a few more years, and then start putting people like Squire and Economaki in.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Media personalities have been an important part of NASCAR from early-on, perhaps to include track announcers ...however, it is difficult that voters must choose between someone from the media and those to created the action on the track ...it would seem appropriate to establish a 'media wing', if not already in the works
Walter

AncientRacer said...

As there are already two, Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame (The former inducted Bill France, Jr. in 2011, incidentially I do not see the need at the NASCAR HoF at this time.

Let like evaluate like seems the proper policy for the foreseeable future. There are more than enough candidates in the driver, wrench-turner, etc. categories. And if one of those (Ned Jarrett and DW for example) are elected who happened to go on to broadcasting so be it -- but not simply for covering the sport.

However, I do not see why it should be a problem to include in the NASCAR HoF mention of those persons who had a prominent place in NASCAR and who have been elected to other HoF's whether that be for broadcasting or Pastry baking. But just a mention. Not the full honor.

Anonymous said...

Ken Squire should have been in before now. I sent an email to race hub daring Jimmy Spencer to comment on it. Ken Squire is man who put all 3 of the NASCAR top series on tv. Without getting the 79 Daytona 500 flag to flag would we have all the races and NASCAR tv shows. (Victory Lane, Raceday, Race Hub, NASCAR now and others)on tv today? NO!Would washed drivers and crew chiefs like Spencer, Hammond, Larry Mac have jobs in the sport today. NO!

glenc1 said...

IIRC...there is a media display at the HOF...they had some kind of early machinery & other items. There was so much stuff in the place I can't remember exactly, but I'm sure they were represented in some fashion. I agree that it's hard to include them before guys who won championships or had ownerships of major teams. OTOH...there'd have been no radio or TV or growing the sport without the media guys. But they are tied to the sport in a different way--some of them started as track announcers and that sort of thing so it wasn't like they just went to 'broadcasting school'. Perhaps Walter is right, they ought to go a separate route. The NFL HOF has no media members, although they did induct Ed Sabol a while back.

GinaV24 said...

Absolutely. Ken Squier continues to do a wonderful job promoting the sport. All I have to do is hear his voice and I know I'm going to hear something intersting.

I would not put Rusty Wallace or Darrell Waltrip in the same league with him at all. They should be inducted as drivers - IMO their contributions in the broadcast booth are minimal or in some regards have driven fans away from the TV coverage.

Steve L. said...

I belong to the National Motorsports Press Association. This organization is made up of members of the press from radio to Television and we have our annual HOF and convention each year to award the best in the business when it comes to the media. We are involved in many NASCAR related activities throughout the year and even the NASCAR awards banquet. Awards at the annual convention celebrates and acknowledges the best writers, photographers, radio, Internet, and television personalities and trophies given to the first, second, and third place winners in each category.

I am proud to be a member of such a great group of media professionals. You can visit their site at: www.nmpaonline.com/ and see for yourself the contributions we make to the world of motor sports.

Yes, I think the NASCAR Hall Of Fame should have a place for media members, but not in the same category with drivers, owners, CC's and the like. Maybe a separate sub-category for this award.

Ashley said...

www.onelapdown.net agreed with you- They think Economaki deserved a nomination. http://onelapdown.net/2012/04/12/economaki-left-off-hall-of-fame-list-is-a-shame/

As a newish fan, I think it's interesting to see all of the different view points. After reading about Economaki, and visiting NASCAR's Hall of Fame, I agree that the media is just as important. Before my visit, I probably would side with those that think the drivers make it all.

Great article!

OSBORNK said...

I think differently from many in that I think the focus of the NASCAR Hall of Fame should be on the drivers only. I think including the media, owners, promoters, etc. waters down the honor of being selected. The honor should be reserved for those that risked their lives on the track. They could have a Hall of Honor for those who were involved in the sport but didn't have the nerve, desire or ability to risk their lives on the track.

The Hall of Fame should be special and putting the likes of Dale Earnhardt and other great drivers on the same level with good talking heads, good money managers, etc. makes it less meaningful and less of an attraction to fans.

Anonymous said...

If they let members of the media in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, I'd bet that almost immediately "Ol' D.W." would start lobbying to be inducted as a member of the media, too, and get his feelings hurt when he isn't the first media member selected for the Hall.

KoHoSo said...

I would put media members in but in something like a separate "contributors" category. That would not be meant as any sort of put-down and one would still refer to such a member as a "hall of famer."

I respect those with a different opinion and understand the perspective. I simply look at it this way...

NASCAR is a big family from top to bottom and side to side. We shouldn't exclude any part of the family if they have made an indellible contribution to the series. While most media members did not participate on the track, there are some that have contributed so much to our enjoyment and understanding of the sport that they should have a special, prominent place to be remembered and studied by future generations.

Garry said...

I think to some degree, that the media should nbe included. But only in cases such as Squire and Economaki. Agree with an earlier post about Waltrip. NO WAY IN H*** should he be a member if they one day decide to put media in. In closing, I have four words:
"....And there's a fight!"

Garry said...

oops I meant BE included

mrclause said...

First of all there needs to be separate categories and there should be no France family members or NASCAR officers on the voting panel. The France family should be shown as the founders and respected for that. It's pretty much a self serving deal to have the family take away slots from others that did as much or more. "Annie B" being nominated would not have happened had there not been family members on the board and pretty much is an insult.

There should be subcategories to honor the media and others that have made big contributions, but not be a part of the five drivers nominated. Make it so there are the five competitors nominated and add one or two other slots to recognize those outside the competitors.

As some panel members have stated, the game politic is already being used and that's not the right way to honor anyone. A lot of that is caused by A France or two sitting on the panel. Simply put they should show some class and build some integrity by understanding what their presence does to the process and step down. I know, fat chance of that happening.

The HOF is there to honor those that brung us. The fan visitors and taxpayer dollars are paying for it, so any hint of favoritism or politicking is a slap in the face. "Annie B" over Bruton, the Campbells, Wendell, a hundred others, come on , ain't nuthin right about that!

Joj said...

Yes, add a separate section adding media members. Dr. Punch, Economaki & Squire. It should not be just drivers, in the HoF, many put their hearts into getting & keeping our sport going & growing. Not just the France family ( its family friendly so I'm letting that pass) & drivers.

Anonymous said...

if it were only drivers, it would be the Drivers HOF, not the NASCAR HOF. No other sports HOF includes only the athletes, because they know it's the 'behind the scenes' people who make everything work and enable them to do what they do--pioneers like Anne France and Ralph Seagraves are like Pete Rozelle or Branch Rickey. they 'brung' us just as much as anyone. However, media are generally honored, as SteveL tells us, by their peers, the other media. I would like to see a separate category. I don't think there's be enough for one every year, but they could figure out some way to do it that would be fair.

Ir42nate2bhere said...

Yes media is a major part and should be in the Hall,the good question is where they fit.Maybe a wing of honor for all the off track contributors, such as T. Wayne, track promoters, media,and any other people that did not race or build the cars. And I think Barney Hall needs to be added to any of the early media discussions.

Kathy16 said...

osbornk--it is not only the drivers who risk their lives. Track workers, emergency personnel, pit crews (and, incidentally, pit reporters too, hence the firesuits...) put themselves in harm's way; a race track can be a dangerous place, and a number of non-drivers have been killed over the years (and we are lucky there wasn't another one at Daytona this year). And if it weren't for those people putting themselves out there, there would be no racing. Risking lives should not be a criteria for HOF induction any more than any other sport. I would think the NMPA could suggest some ideas for NASCAR to include media in some fashion.

OSBORNK said...

Kathy16--How many track workers, emergency personnel or pit crew members do you think will ever be in the Hall of Fame? If were going to have everybody involved in NASCAR in the HOF like many of you do, at least separate them into catagories so we don't have Mikey or similar sitting in there at the same level as Earnhardt Sr. just because he was a big mouthed car owner with a good lobby.

Roland said...

Media members should be in the hall of fame. All of those names are worthy of the hall in my book, and I would add Eli Gold. I think Squire and Economaki should be in soon. Gotta remember the hall has 65 years of history to catch up with.

Anonymous said...

I think those in the media like you mentioned in your post added significantly to the growth and attention brought to NASCAR. These men have had the ability to tell the story without taking away from the main event. They were and will still be the voices of the sport.They did not make themselves the focus but invited you into the sport and put your focus on the people on and at the track.They have been the Vince Scully's of NASCAR.

Kathy16 said...

Osbornk, I didn't way they should be in the HOF. I said risking your life shouldn't be a criteria, partly because they are not the only ones who do, that's the point I was making. You use the example of Mikey (perish the thought...) but what about Childress? Does the man who ran the team that won those championships not deserve the same accolades? I bet Dale would have been very happy & proud to see Richard in there right next to him.

Garry said...

I agree with having the France family not being included. Racing started a hell of alot earlier before they ever got involved. Sure, the formed the sanctioning body, but to be so self-serving, well, they might as well tell everyone from now until doomsday, there will ALWAYS be a France family member in the Hall. At this rate, then Lisa's children might as well thumb their noses at Jeff Gordon now, because they'll get in a hell of lot earlier than he will...

Anonymous said...

Garry, it's not the racing HOF. It's the NASCAR HOF. There is a Stock Car Racing HOF and a Motorsports HOF that also honor people. There are a lot of great people who never competed in NASCAR, or did so on a limited basis. As it happens, Bill & Bill Jr have been honored in them both--and so has Ken Squier. Long before the NASCAR HOF existed. Just saying.

Bobby O said...

Sorry, as I have stated in the past:
I have NO idea why an HOF in ant sport is important to anyone.

Pete Rose? Why does he care?
Your accomplishments are there...

DJ tell me, do HOF members make more money for appearances? Is that what it is all about?

Anonymous said...

Bobby O...man, that's awfully cynical. I don't know why it's hard to understand why a person would not feel proud to be honored by their peers. Everyone wants to feel as if the work they did in their lives was good and mattered to others. A ceremony like that allows people to thank the people who mattered to them, to make a statement about their careers, maybe to set the record straight about some things, to thank their fans--and the reverse; it gives the people in the sanctioning body the ability to make someone *else* know that their work was appreciated. Some people won't ever care...but I would say most do.

MortonGroveDon said...

Baseball has long had a seperate vote for announcers and writers. They go hand in hand with the sport. But it would beharder for Nascar to separate, drivers, owners,et al... since alot of people have wore many hats over the years. But since it seems every single member of the France family, their children, their pets, and their lawn furniture will be inducted into the Hof before a man like Red Vogt, who has been written out of the formation of the organization by the Frances and their controlled media group, is even nominated, why give a rat's ass about it??