Beginning with the 2013 class, NASCAR announced the creation of a new award to honor the contributions of media to the success of the sport. This award, which is celebrated as part of the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremonies, bears the names of the first two award winners: legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall.
Each year, five nominees will be selected by a panel made up of NASCAR executives, NASCAR Hall of Fame staff and the president of the NMPA, among others. From there, a Voting Panel will select an annual winner of the Squier-Hall Award. The annual award winner is typically announced in early July, just more than a one month after the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees are announced. Squier-Hall Award winners will remain eligible for NASCAR Hall of Fame induction. Likewise, current and future inductees who made significant contributions as a member of the media will be eligible to win the Squier-Hall Award.
A special exhibit dedicated to the annual Squier-Hall award winner is located within media exhibit in Race Week at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to recognize the careers of Squier and Hall, as well as honorees in the years to come. The exhibit is unveiled during Induction Weekend each year.
Norma “Dusty” Brandel became the first woman to report from inside the NASCAR garage at Ontario Motor Speedway in 1972. Her career in motorsports journalism started in 1955 as a writer for the Hollywood Citizen-News and early in her career, Brandel covered sports car races throughout Southern California. She eventually worked in press information at Southern California tracks, including the now-defunct Riverside International Raceway. She received the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) Angelo Angelopolous Award in 2001. Brandel currently serves as president of AARWBA and a board member of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
Benny spent 48 years with the High Point Enterprise in North Carolina, serving as sports editor for 32 years. He also wrote for Stock Car Racing magazine for 27 years and spent 12 years with TBS. Phillips was named the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Writer of the Year seven times and earned many accolades including the NMPA Joe Littlejohn Award in 1977, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (IMHOF) Henry T. McLemore Award in 1978, the Buddy Shuman Award in 1986 and the NMPA George Cunningham Award in 1988.
From 2001-14, Byrnes served as a pit reporter for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races on FOX. He also served as a studio show host and appeared on various programs. Prior to joining FOX, Byrnes hosted a variety of NASCAR programs including Inside Winston Cup Racing with Ned Jarrett and Darrell Waltrip’s Racers on TNN. He also worked as a pit reporter for CBS, TNN and TBS. His courageous battle with cancer served as an inspiration to the NASCAR industry, fans and his peers. In April, shortly before his passing, Bristol Motor Speedway named its Sprint Cup race the Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand up to Cancer.
Higgins’ professional newspaper career started in 1957 at the weekly Canton (N.C.) Enterprise. While at the Asheville (N.C.) Times, he covered racing for the first time. Higgins joined the sports staff at The Charlotte Observer in 1964 as an outdoors writer and soon began covering stock racing as well. Higgins was the first beat writer to cover every race on the NASCAR schedule, a role he held from 1980 until his retirement in 1997. Higgins, affectionately known as “Pappy,” won the International Motorsports Hall of Fame Henry T. McLemore Award for lifetime achievement in motorsports journalism in 1980, the NMPA George Cunningham Award as writer of the year in 1987 and was named the NASCAR Bill France Award of Excellence winner in 1996. He was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame in 2011. He is also a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel.
Economaki was the editor, publisher and columnist for National Speed Sport News for more than 60 years, a weekly racing publication he began selling at race tracks at the age of 14. He began his television broadcast career with ABC in 1961 and with CBS Sports helped make the Daytona 500 one of racing’s marquee events. The son of a Greek immigrant who was born in Brooklyn but spent most of his life in New Jersey, Economaki participated in the growth of automobile racing from its pre-World War II small-town and county fair circuits. He worked at the sport’s grassroots, alongside many historic promoters – including NASCAR founder Bill France – and went on to cover most of the 20th and 21st centuries’ greatest figures. He appeared in several racing-themed motion pictures and was part of the CBS broadcast team that won a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Special (the 1987 Daytona 500). He was awarded the 1990 NASCAR Award of Excellence and NASCAR Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. Economaki is a member of several halls of fame including the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) Hall of Honor, Eastern Motorsports Press Association (EMPA) Hall of Fame and the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame.
Ken Squier, one of NASCAR's original broadcasters, carved a massive footprint during NASCAR's formative broadcast years. Beginning with the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970, Squier's golden voice took NASCAR to a national audience thirsting for live coverage. He is perhaps best-known for his work during the 1979 Daytona 500, a milestone moment for the entire sport, as Squier's voice on CBS welcomed millions to the first live flag-to-flag coverage of "The Great American Race"—a moniker he coined. Following that signature moment, including his call of the post-race fight between Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison, Squier proceeded to call races for CBS and TBS until 1997 before shifting to the studio as host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000. Squier continues to enlighten NASCAR fans to this day, mostly through special appearances.
Barney Hall began his career in the 1950s working at local radio stations in North Carolina and served as Bristol Motor Speedway's first public address announcer when the track opened. He called his first Daytona 500 in 1960, and has missed only three broadcasts in the 54-year history of “The Great American Race.” He joined MRN as an original announcer at the network's inception in 1970, first as a turn announcer and then moving to the booth in the late 1970s where he has been a fixture ever since at race tracks from coast to coast. The Elkin, North Carolina, native who is widely known for his calm voice and unmatched storytelling, was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame in 2007. Hall has called a number of the sport's milestone moments, including the landmark 1979 Daytona 500, Richard Petty's 200th-career victory in 1984 and Dale Earnhardt's 1998 victory in the Daytona 500.