DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Barney Hall, whose folksy delivery brought NASCAR racing to life for radio listeners across the country for more than five decades, died late Tuesday. He was 83.
NASCAR officials confirmed Hall's death early Wednesday, with chairman and CEO Brian France saying "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."
Hall called his first Daytona 500 in 1960 and missed "The Great American Race" just four times in 57 years.
A native of Elkin, North Carolina, Hall was one of the original members of the Motor Racing Network staff and widely known as the "Voice of MRN." He was inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
In 2012, he joined former MRN colleague Ken Squier as the initial recipients and namesakes of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.
"Barney's impeccable delivery and incredible storytelling skills left an indelible mark on the sport that he so clearly loved," France said. "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."
Hall began his career in the 1950s working at local radio stations in North Carolina. He served as Bristol Motor Speedway's first public address announcer before calling his first Daytona 500. Hall joined MRN first as a turn announcer and then moved to the booth in the late 1970s, where he had been a fixture until 2014.
Hall called a number of the sport's milestone moments including the landmark 1979 Daytona 500 that featured a post-race scuffle, Richard Petty's 200th career victory in 1984 and Dale Earnhardt's 1998 win in the Daytona 500.
"Barney was more than just an announcer," said Performance Racing Network President Doug Rice, whose company was considered MRN's rival. "To many, he was NASCAR. His was the voice that brought them to the race on countless Sundays. His casual style and delivery was a perfect match for the sport and its audience. In many ways, Barney Hall was not only "the voice" for "the voice of NASCAR" and the Motor Racing Network, but a familiar friend to generations of NASCAR fans."
Hall is survived by longtime companion Karen Carrier.