Barney Hall, whose soothing voice delivered stock-car racing broadcasts over radio airwaves for 54 years, died on Wednesday from complications after a recent medical operation. He was 83.
Hall was a fixture with Motor Racing Network (MRN) since its inception in 1970. His longevity and connection to racing fans with his unique brand of storytelling earned Hall a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012, when the shrine created the annual Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, honoring Hall alongside legendary TV broadcaster Ken Squier.
”I learned a long time ago, listen to the fans,” Hall told NASCAR.com in the days before his final broadcast in 2014. “If you do what makes them happy, you’re pretty much OK. If not, ain’t nobody happy.”
Hall’s radio career began during his four years of active duty in the United States Navy. After his military service, he returned to his hometown of Elkin, North Carolina, as a disc jockey for local station WIFM.
Hall transitioned to calling on-track action, joining his first broadcast of the Daytona 500 in 1960 and was the first public address announcer at Bristol Motor Speedway when it opened one year later.
Hall began his career with MRN as a reporter calling the action from the turns. As NASCAR grew from a regional sport to having a wider national reach, Hall moved to the booth and his recognizable voice resonated with a larger audience.
”Whether you met him or not, you felt like you knew him,” said Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and a colleague of Hall’s at MRN. “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,” Kelley added.
Hall made his final broadcast in July 2014 at Daytona International Speedway, calling Aric Almirola’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in the track’s rain-shortened summer race. He received a standing ovation in the pre-race drivers’ and crew chiefs’ meeting.
”To have been in this stuff for 54 years, I’ve gotten to know everybody at one time or another,” said Hall, who received the Bill France Award of Excellence in 2007. “It’s a pretty good feeling to go in that garage and hear somebody at some point go, ‘Hey, Barney Hall, how you doing?’ That makes you feel good. It really, really does.”
Hall is survived by his wife of 35 years, Karen Carrier, who was by her husband’s side as he passed away.