Recently, the NASCAR community was treated to the benefit of former ESPN play by play man Bob Jenkins working as the PA announcer at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway for the K&N Series East/West race. Jenkins, who lives near Indianapolis, usually works only the races at the Brickyard, but was working in Gateway for the IndyCar Series race at the end of the night. It has been 19 years since Bob Jenkins has called a NASCAR national series race, and for many people, it was a wonderful throwback. Now, the question is, what is taking so long on the Squier-Hall Award for him?
The Squier-Hall Award at the NASCAR Hall of Fame is meant for members of the media. Named after MRN and TV legends Barney Hall and Ken Squier, the award, presented off-screen for some reason, has existed for 8 years now. The inductees since 2013 include various broadcasters and long-time writers and trailblazers. However, since the debut of the Award, only two other broadcasters have been honored. Steve Byrnes was given the award posthumously in 2016 after his death from cancer. The 2020 inductee is Dr. Dick Berggren, who worked for years on various stations, but in modern NASCAR, he is known for working the first 12 seasons for NASCAR on FOX. Chris Economaki, the 2014 inductee, also worked on TV at times.
The problem is NASCAR’s Hall of Fame needs to consider looking at offering two different S-H Awards each year. In the National Baseball Hall of Fame, there are two separate awards. One is for the member of the radio/television media (The Ford C. Frick Award) and one is for the mass news media (J.G. Taylor Spink Award). NASCAR should consider going the same route to make the inductions a little more balanced. Rather than have two separate awards, the Squier-Hall Awards should be offered twice per year, one for the radio/television media and one for the newspaper media. This would help get the backlog of absolutely wonderful nominees cleared up rather than waiting 10-15 years for deserved nominees.
Now why Bob Jenkins? Bob Jenkins came to NASCAR in 1980 with the debut of ESPN’s television coverage at Rockingham. Paul Page put him and Larry Nuber together, which worked in also producing Thursday Night Thunder. Bob would call races at tracks such as Winchester and Salem to a national audience. Thursday Night Thunder discovered drivers such as NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Eventually, ESPN had Ned Jarrett and the late Benny Parsons work with Bob every Sunday and it became television magic. Unfortunately, when ESPN lost their Winston Cup and Busch Grand National rights following the 2000 season, Bob never got to call another race.
Now, the time has come to honor the man who was basically the other Ken Squier. The man whose voice made much of our childhoods is someone quickly being forgotten. There is no way that the Hall of Fame can ignore him much longer.
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