By Steve Mickey
Barney Hall never crawled out of a car in victory lane after a NASCAR race nor did he make a race winning call from on top of a pit box as a crew chief but he did make some of the most memorable calls in the history of the sport. Barney made those calls as the lead announcer for Motor Racing Network from 1970 until his retirement after the Firecracker 400 on July 6, 2014 at Daytona International Speedway.
Back in the early 70’s when NASCAR was taking its first steps of trying to expand its fan base from the southeastern region of the country; it was the Hall’s voice on Sunday afternoon that gave so many people their first taste of the sport. It was Hall who made fans out of so many of us as he would introduce us to names like Petty, Pearson, and Yarborough as well as some of the old school tracks at Darlington, Rockingham and North Wilkesboro.
The only television coverage of those years when Hall began cutting his teeth at MRN was an occasional highlight on a news telecast or when ABC’s Wide World of Sports would show a race in a ten-minute condense version of the event focusing just on the highlights. So it was left up to Hall to sell the sport and with his smooth delivery and insider information, he began to make fans out of people that had never seen a NASCAR race in person.
Maybe the greatest testimony to Hall’s stamp that he left on the sport was given by the dozens of drivers, crew chiefs and owners upon hearing of his death. All were in agreement that Hall was a trusted friend in the garage area that was always honest in his reporting while fellow broadcasters went on to say that he had that rare ability to make everyone around him better during a broadcast.
His legacy in the sport is secure as the NASCAR Hall of Fame created the Squier-Hall Award For Media Excellence. Hall and his fellow broadcaster Ken Squier were the first recipient of the award given annually to a member of the media that shared the same passion and professionalism displayed by Hall and Squier.
GUARANTEED CAUTIONS – Beginning this season, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will use a caution clock at every track with the exception of Eldora Speedway. The clock will be set to 20 minutes and triggered at the start of each green-flag run during the race. When the clock counts down to zero, a caution flag then will be displayed and no beneficiary (lucky dog) will be awarded. A caution occurring before time expires resets the clock when the green flag is once again displayed and the first truck a lap down will be the beneficiary. The caution clock will be turned off with 20 laps to go at all of the events with the exception of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Pocono Raceway, where the clock will be turned off with 10 laps to go. The use of the caution clock is intended to give the fans the kind of racing that they like and in the process will force crew chiefs into an area of in-race strategy that has never been used before.
WOOD BROTHERS RETURN – The legendary Wood Brothers have been racing for 66 years but this season will be the first time since 2007 that the team will be running a full-time schedule. The team will campaign rookie driver Ryan Blaney who ran a limited schedule for the team in 2015 with his best finishes being a fourth in the spring Talladega race and a seventh at Kansas. Blaney will be competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Chase Elliott, Brian Scott, Chris Buescher and Jeffrey Earnhardt. Elliott is the early favorite to win the honor as he will be stepping into one of the best rides in the sport as he will be filling the seat left by the newly retired Jeff Gordon. Blaney will benefit from the Wood Brother’s alliance with highly successful Penske Racing as both teams are part of the Ford Camp.