NASCAR community reacts to passing of journalist Tom Higgins at 80

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Tom Higgins, a long-time NASCAR reporter for The Charlotte Observer, died Tuesday morning at the age of 80.

Higgins, who worked for the newspaper full-time from 1964-97, suffered a stroke last August.

A native of Burnsville, North Carolina, Higgins was the first newspaper reporter to cover every race in a NASCAR Cup season in 1980. He was awarded the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence in 2015.

He was also the author of multiple books, including 2013’s “Racing into the Past” and a 1999 book on Junior Johnson. 

The NASCAR community was quick to react to Higgins’ passing.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France released the following statement on Higgins’ passing:

“For more than five decades, Tom Higgins was an ever-present figure in the NASCAR garage. Within the industry, he built a reputation as a trusted and fair voice who delivered our sport to the fans. To those fans, he was a must-read journalist whose reporting was rightly taken as gospel. Simply put, he defined what it meant to be a NASCAR beat reporter. As such, his outstanding career earned him NASCAR’s top honor for journalists, the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, in 2015. On behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, I extend my deepest condolences to the friends and family of Tom Higgins, a true NASCAR media giant.”

The NASCAR Hall of Fame issued a statement from Executive Director Winston Kelley.

“On behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, I would like to extend our most sincere condolences to the family of Tom Higgins. Tom was the fourth recipient of the prestigious Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence in 2015. Tom also received the NASCAR Bill France Award of Excellence in 1996 among the many awards and accolades bestowed upon him for his over 40 years of contributions to the NASCAR industry. Affectionately known as ‘Pappy,’ Tom was among the most trusted journalists in the industry and I count myself among the many young journalists he mentored and considered him a dear friend. Words cannot adequately describe the impact Tom had on motorsports. We were fortunate to have his wisdom in serving as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel since its inception in 2009. Tom will be dearly missed, but his remarkable legacy of professionalism and willingness to help others will live on forever.”