There was a time when NASCAR made appearances on TV only rarely. Then only highlights were seen, not entire races. It was left to one man to carry an entire sport. The voice of Barney Hall could be heard across the South on a Sunday afternoon as people returned home from church and gathered around a radio to hear the exploits of men with names like Buddy Baker, David Pearson and Richard Petty on a racetrack somewhere. It was during this era that Barney Hall became the voice of NASCAR. He never competed on a racetrack, never hoisted a trophy in Victory Lane, yet was just as important to NASCAR as any of its legendary drivers. That voice fell silent Tuesday night as Barney Hall passed away at age 83 after complications from a recent medical procedure.
During this early era as people worked in garages, drove in their own cars, or sat on couches and heard that voice emanating from a speaker they could easily imagine the excitement as men wheeled their mighty stock cars around places such as Darlington, Charlotte or Daytona thanks to his descriptions. His voice never wavered, rarely became lost, yet always gave people colorful images in their minds that conveyed that excitement.
Hall graduated from track announcer and covering races for local stations to become the lead announcer for the Motor Racing Network when it began in 1970. He grew to become synonymous with the sport, fans knowing that when they heard that voice, they were hearing NASCAR. In that regard, everyone who loved NASCAR loved Barney Hall. He was a familiar as a beloved family member and just as much a part of NASCAR fan’s lives.
As Hall of Fame executive director, Winston Kelley said, “He could paint a picture that would make Picasso or Rembrandt proud and tell a story that would awe Hemingway or Twain.”
Barney missed very few races during his long career. He called his final race in July of 2014 at Daytona International Speedway, a race won, somewhat fittingly, by a young driver racing for the legendary Richard Petty.
When NASCAR kicks off its season at Daytona on February 21, there will be a brand-new “motorsports arena”. The old Daytona grandstands, along with the press box have been replaced. Barney Hall too will be gone; however, no one will ever be able to replace him. Like the vestiges of the old Daytona though, the voice of Barney Hall will be with us forever. He was indeed, and will always be, the voice of NASCAR.
He is survived by his companion and love of his life for 35 years, Karen Carrier, along with an aunt and cousins.
Statement from David Hyatt, Motor Racing Network president:
“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.”