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Legendary NASCAR announcer Barney Hall dies

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Barney Hall, the legendary Motor Racing Network announcer whose voice was synonymous with Sunday afternoons for NASCAR fans, died Tuesday from complications following a recent medical procedure. He was 83.

Hall was the longtime play-by-play voice of MRN and had been a part of the network’s NASCAR race coverage since its founding in 1970.

His homespun style and distinctive delivery made him a favorite among fans and competitors alike. Upon Hall’s retirement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted, “Barney Hall is a legend. Grew up listening to him. Forever grateful.” Seven-time champion Richard Petty was among those who paid tribute to Hall by stopping at the MRN trailer before his last broadcast for the July 6, 2014 race at Daytona International Speedway.

He called his first Daytona 500 in 1960 and missed only four broadcasts of NASCAR’s biggest race in 57 years, retiring after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease. In the drivers meeting before his final race, Hall’s signature flair for storytelling was singled out by NASCAR executive Mike Helton, who said his early knowledge of stock-car racing was derived from listening to Hall.

“It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that Motor Racing Network must today convey the passing of our friend and colleague, longtime MRN anchor Barney Hall,” MRN President David Hyatt said in a release. “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.”

An MRN release said at the time of Hall’s death, he was in the company of longtime companion Karen Carrier, “the love of his life.”

In a June 2015 interview with NASCAR Talk‘s Jerry Bonkowski, Hall said walking away from NASCAR broadcasting “after 54 was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

“I miss the people really a bunch, especially the people I worked with,” Hall said.

He laughed when asked how many races he called in his career. “Lord, I wouldn’t have any idea,” Hall said. “I’m not sure I’d want to know such a thing.”

Three years ago, the NASCAR Hall of Fame created the Squier-Hall Award in honor of Hall and TV broadcaster Ken Squier. The award, which salutes accomplishments and excellence in NASCAR media, was awarded Saturday to the late Steve Byrnes.

“First and foremost, I want to offer our most sincere condolences to the longtime love of Barney’s life and best friend for more than 35 years, Karen Carrier, and their families on Barney’s passing,” NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelley, who worked with Hall on MRN broadcasts, said in a statement. “Barney’s accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR are immeasurable and without parallel. Covering NASCAR for nearly 55 years through seven decades, he became known by millions as ‘The Voice of NASCAR.’ He was that recognizable voice that you would hear with every broadcast. You may not have known the face, which he would joke with his ever-present wit that it was “made for radio,” but his voice was unmistakable.

“Whether you met him or not, you felt like you knew him. 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. Barney has also tutored dozens of broadcasters throughout his career, many of whom you hear on the air today on both radio and television.

“NASCAR has lost its most recognizable voice and one of the greatest broadcasters ever of any sport; and I have lost one of my dearest friends. His legacy and legendary calls of NASCAR racing will live in our minds, our archives and at the NASCAR Hall of Fame forever.”

Hall was born June 24, 1932 in Elkin, North Carolina, where he called home for the rest of his life. He served four years of active duty in the Navy after graduating high school, returning to North Carolina to work as a disc jockey for 13 years at WIFM.

Before joining MRN, he also worked as the first public address announcer at Bristol Motor Speedway, leaving a lasting impression around the country with his plainspoken and pleasing pipes that instantly were recognizable.

In a 2014 interview with Dustin Long for MRN.com, Hall shared an amusing anecdote about being stopped by a highway patrol officer for speeding.

“He recognized the voice, and he said, ‘Mr. Hall, you were speeding a little bit, but I’m going to give you a break,’ ” Hall said. “He said, ‘I’m going to give you some good advice that you need to pay attention to.’ He said, ‘If you ever decide to rob a bank, don’t say this is a stick-up. Hand them a note because the minute you speak, they’ve got you.’ ”

It was that famous intonation that resonated so strongly with his lifetime fans.

“All of them always say, even if it’s a guy with a beard down to his navel, they’ll say, ‘I’ve been listening to you since I was 2 years old,’ and they look like they’re 150,” Hall told Long. “It’s always a good feeling … when the fans pat you on the back or shake your hand and say, ‘I really enjoy listening to MRN.’ I get a bigger kick out of that than almost anything.”

FanVision closes due to impact of COVID-19 pandemic

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FanVision Entertainment, the company that produces video devices used by race fans at NASCAR events, has ceased operations due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news was announced in a statement from Racing Electronics, the company which sold and supported FanVision devices at NASCAR tracks through a license with FanVision Entertainment.

Racing Electronics, which is owned by NASCAR, can no longer sell or support the devices.

“We recognize this news will be met with disappointment by motorsports fans across the country who utilized FanVision’s products as part of their at-track experience,” Racing Electronics president Chad Willis said in a statement.

“To help fans and industry members transition to Racing Electronics products, we are working with existing FanVision device owners to solve their race day needs. When Racing Electronics returns to the track, fans and industry members will have access to all the sounds that make racing so special.”

RCR, Hendrick to collaborate on Chevy engine

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Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing will team up on research and development of a common Chevrolet engine after the conclusion of the 2020 season, the teams announced Thursday.

The two organizations will continue to function independently as they “fully leverage the knowledge and intellectual property of our two successful programs to advance Chevrolet’s engine for NASCAR,” they said in a joint statement.

Engines produced by Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing (via ECR Engines) have earned a combined 20 Cup titles and the two teams have totaled 369 Cup wins.

Jeff Andrews, the new executive vice president at Hendrick Motorsports, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” Thursday that discussions about the venture between his team and RCR began two years ago.

“The day was going to come when we really needed to figure out how to get these two programs together,” Andrews said. “A tremendous amount of talent, people and a tremendous amount of equipment and resources between the two programs. How could we do this? How could we take the longstanding heritage between these two companies and get that together to start working on an alliance that truly would produce the ultimate powertrain for Chevrolet NASCAR?”

RCR is headquartered in Welcome, North Carolina and Hendrick’s campus is in Concord, North Carolina.

“I think when you step back and look at it, ultimately you have to get to a point to where, when you have these resources and you have these people, we have to do what’s best for Chevrolet, first and foremost, to continue to push their performance and get them back to the front of the field and get them wins and championships,” Andrews said. “Really, we work together in a very similar fashion. We started two years ago on the aerodynamic side with our groups working very close together and we’re kind of taking somewhat of that template and applying to the engine side in starting this joint alliance.”

Chevrolet last won a Cup title in 2016 when Jimmie Johnson earned his record-tying seventh championship. Since then, Chevy has not had a car reach the championship four.

The Cup Series is in the middle of the Round of 12. The series races Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Of the 12 cars that remain, four are Chevrolets: Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch.

Chevrolet cars have won six times through 30 races this season. That’s compared to seven wins in all of 2019, four in 2018 and and 10 in 2017.

NASCAR weekend schedule for Talladega

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The NASCAR playoffs roll on this weekend to Talladega Superspeedway.

All three national series will be racing on NASCAR’s largest oval. The weekend will be capped off by the Cup Series’ Round of 12 race.

More: Denny Hamlin on pole for Cup race at Talladega

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

Here is the weekend schedule for Talladega:

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Oct. 2

Noon – 2 p.m. – Driver motorhome parking (screening in progress)

1 – 3 p.m. – Truck Series haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

3 – 9 p.m. – Truck Series garage open

3 – 8 p.m. – Truck Series garage access screening

3:30 – 4 p.m. – Truck Series rookie meeting (teleconference)

5:30 p.m. – Xfinity rookie meeting (teleconference)

6 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

8:30 – 10:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers enter (screening in progress)

 

Saturday, Oct. 3

7:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage access (screening in progress)

10 a.m. – Truck Series garage opens

10 a.m. – Noon – Truck Series garage access (screening in progress)

12:45 p.m. – Truck Series drivers report to vehicles

1 p.m. – Truck Series race; 94 laps/250.04 miles (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

4 p.m. – Truck Series haulers exit

4:05 p.m. – Xfinity drivers report to cars

4:30 p.m. – Xfinity race; 113 laps/300.58 miles (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5:30 p.m. – Cup rookie meeting (electronic communication)

6 p.m. – Cup driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers exit

8:30 – 10:30 p.m. – Cup haulers enter (screening in progress and equipment unload)

 

Sunday, Oct. 4

7 a.m. – Cup garage opens

7 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Cup garage access screening in progress

1:30 p.m. – Cup drivers report to cars

1:30 p.m. – Driver introductions

2 p.m. – Cup race; 188 laps/500 miles (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

6:30 p.m. – Cup haulers exit

2021 NASCAR Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes

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The 2021 Cup schedule features the first race on a dirt track for the series in more than 50 years, three new venues and six road course points races.

Responding to fan interest, the series adds three road course events to the 2021 schedule. Those new races are May 23 at Circuit of the Americas, July 4 at Road America and Aug. 15 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The other points races on road courses in 2021 will be at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval. The Daytona road course will host the Busch Clash exhibition race.

The race that might gain the most attention, though, could be the March 28 Cup race at Bristol. The track will be converted to dirt.

There are no midweek races. Pocono Raceway continues to have the only doubleheader weekend. There is a two-week break in late July/early August during the Olympics. NBC’s portion of the schedule will begin with the June 20 race at Nashville Superspeedway.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president & chief racing development officer, says the plan is to have practice and qualifying for new venues (Circuit of the Americas, Road America, Nashville) and new configurations (Indy road course) along with key events (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Phoenix championship weekend). The plan is for the other races to be one-day shows.

The schedule is flush with change. Here’s a look at those changes:

NEW EVENTS

March 28 – Bristol Dirt race: It is the first Cup race on dirt since 1970 at Raleigh, a race won by Richard Petty.

May 9 – Darlington: The track that NASCAR returned to after the season was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year will host two races in 2021. The track adds a spring date and it will be run on Mother’s Day. It will be only the third time in the last 40 years Cup has run on Mother’s Day. The added race comes from Michigan International Speedway, which will have one race in 2021.

May 23 – Circuit of the Americas: Inaugural race for the series on the road course in Austin, Texas that has hosted Formula One and IndyCar, among other series.

June 13 – All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway: First time the All-Star race has been held at this track. Marks third different year for the event after being in Charlotte in 2019 and Bristol this year.

June 20 – Nashville: The 1.333-mile track will hold its first race for Cup. The track hosted Xfinity and Truck races from 2001-11. The date comes from a Dover, leaving that race with one NASCAR race weekend in 2021. This weekend begins NBC Sports’ coverage of NASCAR races.

July 4- Road America: Will host the Cup Series for the first time. Gets holiday weekend with July 4 date. The date comes from Chicagoland Speedway, which will not have a NASCAR race in 2021.

July 11 – Atlanta: Kentucky race date moves to Atlanta to give track a second race. The first race at the track in 2021 will be March 21.

Aug. 15 – Indianapolis road course: After comping on the oval since 1994, Cup moves to the road course. Will be a part of a race weekend with the IndyCar Series. 

OTHER DATES OF NOTE

Feb. 21 – Miami: Moves to second race of the season and comes a week after Daytona 500.

Feb. 28 – Auto Club: Moves up a week earlier and this will be its last race as a 2-mile track. Track will be converted into a short track after this event for 2022.

April 10 – Martinsville: Track hosted its first night race in June but did not have fans because of the coronavirus. This April race will be at night. Provided fans will be allowed at that point, it will be their first time to witness a night Cup race there.

July 25 & Aug. 1: No Cup races because of the Olympics. 

Sept. 5 – Nov. 7: Cup playoffs. Same 10 tracks as 2020. Only difference is Texas and Kansas flip-flop weekends in the Round of 8. Texas will open that round on Oct. 17. Kansas will follow on Oct. 24. Round of 8 ends at Martinsville on Oct. 31. Phoenix again will host the title race, doing so Nov. 7.

 

2021 NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE

(Times, weekend schedule and TV info to be announced later)

 

Date Race / Track
Tuesday, February 9 Clash (Daytona Road Course)
Thursday, February 11 Duel at Daytona
Sunday, February 14 Daytona 500
Sunday, February 21 Homestead-Miami
Sunday, February 28 Auto Club
Sunday, March 7 Las Vegas
Sunday, March 14 Phoenix
Sunday, March 21 Atlanta
Sunday, March 28 Bristol Dirt
Saturday, April 10 Martinsville
Sunday, April 18 Richmond
Sunday, April 25 Talladega
Sunday, May 2 Kansas
Sunday, May 9 Darlington
Sunday, May 16 Dover
Sunday, May 23 COTA
Sunday, May 30 Charlotte
Sunday, June 6 Sonoma
Sunday, June 13 All-Star (Texas)
Sunday, June 20 Nashville Superspeedway
Saturday & Sunday, June 26-27 Pocono Doubleheader
Sunday, July 4 Road America
Sunday, July 11 Atlanta
Sunday, July 18 New Hampshire
Sunday, August 8 Watkins Glen
Sunday, August 15 Indianapolis Road Course
Sunday, August 22 Michigan
Saturday, August 28 Daytona
Sunday, September 5 Darlington
Saturday, September 11 Richmond
Saturday, September 18 Bristol
Sunday, September 26 Las Vegas
Sunday, October 3 Talladega
Sunday, October 10 Charlotte Roval
Sunday, October 17 Texas
Sunday, October 24 Kansas
Sunday, October 31 Martinsville
Sunday, November 7 Phoenix
  • Races in bold are playoff races