On Tuesday, the racing community lost not only the voice of the Motor Racing Network, but a legendary broadcaster who many considered the voice of NASCAR – Barney Hall.
For more than half a century, Hall, 83, called the action in stock car races for millions of race fans around the world. But Hall was more than an announcer. Hall was a storyteller. He could make a listener feel as if he or she were in the stands at whatever track NASCAR’s top tours raced that weekend.
MRN's President David Hyatt statement
It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that Motor Racing Network must today convey the passing of our friend and colleague, long-time MRN anchor Barney Hall.
For many of us in the racing and broadcasting industries, Barney was more than just ‘The Voice’ who brought us the NASCAR action each week on the radio. He was an inspiration, a teacher and mostly, a friend. Barney was a consummate professional whose style and honesty made him one of the most revered voices of the sport and perhaps the most trusted reporter of his day.
In a world that can have its share of egos, Barney’s humor and humility kept everyone around him firmly grounded. His smooth and easygoing delivery was the mark by which others were measured. His co-anchor, Joe Moore, once commented that ‘Barney was the calming force in the midst of a raging storm and simply by listening to him, you knew there was safe passage through it.’
Barney Hall was the true voice of NASCAR and although his own voice has gone silent, his presence will live on in the many current motor sports broadcasters who learned at the knee of such a great storyteller.
NASCAR statement from Brian France
“The entire NASCAR family extends its condolences to the family, friends and fans of Barney Hall, a NASCAR broadcasting giant for more than 50 years. Barney’s impeccable delivery and incredible storytelling skills left an indelible mark on the sport that he so clearly loved. His legacy remains through an honor that rightly carries his name – the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. It will remain a constant reminder of the skill and passion that Barney brought to his work.”
NASCAR Hall of Fame statement
“First and foremost, I want to offer our most sincere condolences to the longtime love of Barney’s life and best friend for more than 35 years, Karen Carrier, and their families on Barney’s passing. Barney’s accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR are immeasurable and without parallel. Covering NASCAR for nearly 55 years through seven decades, he became known by millions as “The Voice of NASCAR.” He was that recognizable voice that you would hear with every broadcast. You may not have known the face, which he would joke with his ever-present wit that it was "made for radio,” but his voice was unmistakable.
Whether you met him or not, you felt like you knew him. His easy, conversational delivery made you feel like you were listening to one of your closest friends or relatives tell you a story – the story of the very NASCAR race he was describing. He could paint a picture that would make Picasso or Rembrandt proud and tell a story that would awe Hemingway or Twain. He was not just a trusted voice to listeners and race fans, he became what many believe is the most trusted journalist in NASCAR by the sport's competitors for decades. Barney has also tutored dozens of broadcasters throughout his career, many of whom you hear on the air today on both radio and television.
Barney achieved one of the ultimate compliments for his life’s work and honored his commitment to NASCAR when the sport named the award for media excellence presented annually at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony after him and another legendary broadcaster and former colleague, Ken Squier. Hall and Squier were the inaugural recipients of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence in 2013. NASCAR has lost its most recognizable voice and one of the greatest broadcasters ever of any sport; and I have lost one of my dearest friends. His legacy and legendary calls of NASCAR racing will live in our minds, our archives and at the NASCAR Hall of Fame forever."
Hall began his broadcasting career in his hometown of Elkin, N.C., in 1958. He was the first public address announcer for Bristol Motor Speedway and joined Motor Racing Network upon its inception in 1970, first as a turn announcer and then in the booth.
He called his final race at Daytona in July 2014. Prior to stepping down, he told MRN.com that his favorite part of being at the racetrack was his interaction with the fans.
“What's fun is to sit out here (behind the MRN hauler) in this chair and watch the people go by. I would buy a ticket just to sit here and look at the race fans that come and go through the place,” Hall said. “Something that makes you feel real good is when you walk from here to the garage area or you're out in the infield and people holler, 'Barney Hall!' and they come over and say, 'I've been listening to you since I was about two feet tall.'
"It’s fun to listen to the fans and it makes you feel good when they say, 'We really like what you guys do.'"
In 2007, Hall was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame. Five years later, the NASCAR Hall of Fame honored Hall and Ken Squier with the Squier-Hall Award for Media Excellence. The legendary broadcasters were the first recipients of the accolade.