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Building the Foundation of MRN

Following the first broadcast, the 1970 Daytona 500, the Motor Racing Network had rapid growth and with that brought some of the most iconic voices in motorsports to the airwaves.

Ken Squier, the original lead anchor for the network, remembers the vision that Bill France Sr. had for MRN.

“The goals in racing radio at the time the Motor Racing Network started were far different from what they are today,” Squier said. “Today it’s like everything in America, it’s based on sales, commercials. ’Big Bill’ his sales were on the drivers that he put together that were rather unique…He wanted to build heroes and wanted to build an entire sport.”

When France Sr. was constructing the network, he discovered a track announcer from Elkin, N.C. named Barney Hall.

“I was doing some public address announcing at some tracks and I was working at Bristol Motor Speedway and ‘Big Bill’ France was in attendance that day,” Hall said. “He came over in the booth and introduced himself, which he didn’t need an introduction. He said, ‘boy I like the way you talk, you talk real good. Have you ever thought about working the Daytona 500 network?’

France then invited Hall down to Daytona for an audition where he landed his spot with MRN.

Mrn2With the addition of Squier and Hall, some of the most iconic voices on MRN got their start in the 1970s. Another one was a young man out of New Britain, Connecticut, named Jack Arute.

Dave Despain also found success on MRN.

In 1977, the Motor Racing Network brought on two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Ned Jarrett to cover the action in the pits.

“It was a great experience right from the beginning,” Jarrett said. “To be on the ground floor of MRN and to work with such guys as Ken Squier and Barney Hall that were some of the originators.”

Another MRN alumni that made his debut in 1977 was Mike Joy, who now works for NASCAR of FOX.

“I was doing public address announcing at a number of New England short tracks and occasionally I would share the microphone with Ken Squier when they would bring Ken in for the big events,” Joy said. “It was Ken who brought me to the Motor Racing Network as a turn announcer. Jack (Arute) came down to Daytona full time and when an opportunity opened he brought me down there to work with him and helped build the radio network.”

Eli Gold Barney HallEli Gold also joined MRN in the 70s.

“I did not start working until May of 1976 for the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Gold said. “It was basically an on the air audition. I never had done a race in my life. After that I got in two years later I was in the National Hockey League doing the St. Louis Blues so I had worked my way up the hockey ladder. By then I had already done my first Daytona 500 so I was able to affirm in my own mind that I was qualified to be here. Other jobs came in went over the years leading to my football gig with Alabama.”

As MRN grew, more and more tracks wanted the network to cover their races with one of the first being Riverside Raceway.

The 70s was a time of growth for the sport as well as for MRN. The foundation for the network was established and paved the way for future announcers for decades to come.