In order for NASCAR to have incredible calls, there needs to be incredible commentators as well. NASCAR has had its’ fair share of great commentators through the years not only as play-by-play broadcasters, but as color commentators as well. Here are some of the best broadcasters in NASCAR history.
8. Larry McReynolds
Larry McReynolds walks a very fine line as an analyst that can be very hard to walk. He is insightful without being too confusing. He is explains things without being condescending.
Add to that, he adds incredible energy to the booth. He is more than just a crew chief or a commentator, he is a race fan. Every race he commentates, he provides energy that show his passion. If he is passionate, then why should we not be?
7. Darrell Waltrip
They called him “Jaws” during his racing career, so the most natural place for Darrell Waltrip to go once his racing career was up was to go to the TV booth. Waltrip was unapologetically himself every time he stepped into the TV booth.
Whenever someone is authentic, that is the best thing that can be asked for from a commentator. Darrell Waltrip was not trying to be a broadcaster, he was trying to be himself. Himself just happened to be a pretty fun listen.
6. Benny Parsons
Parsons was more than just a commentator, he was a fan. Every race Parsons showed incredible enthusiasm to what happened on the race track. It was almost like he was someone you could watch the race with on the couch next to you. He was fun to listen to, and he made impact on every broadcast he was on.
5. Bob Jenkins
Bob Jenkins is more than just a NASCAR legend, he is a motorsports legend. He’s called the Indianapolis 500 before, and his partnership with Benny Parsons and Ned Jarrett on ESPN in the 1990s was nothing short of a match made in Heaven.
Because of his background IndyCar, he does not have the same grass roots appeal of a Mike Joy or a Barney Hall, but that has not detracted from his appeal to NASCAR fans. Ask many NASCAR or IndyCar fans who their favorite commentator is, and Bob Jenkins is at or near the top of nearly every list.
4. Allen Bestwick
With how beloved Allen Bestwick is, it is a surprising thing that he only spent seven full seasons (2001-2003 at NBC and 2011-2014 at ESPN) as a lap-by-lap commentator on television. However, he did a lot with those seven seasons.
He even spent some time with MRN previously, and learned from some of the best in NASCAR broadcasting. Not only did Bestwick do a good job in the booth, he was even solid as a studio host during the early years of NASCAR on ESPN before 2011. Now he is the lead commentator for the SRX on CBS, and it is quite a nostalgia trip for NASCAR fans of my generation.
3. Mike Joy
For years Mike Joy was learning from some of the best in NASCAR commentary. Sitting in the MRN booth alongside Barney Hall, or even being in the pits with CBS listening to Ken Squier. Those lessons certainly rubbed off on Joy in a good way as he was honing his craft in the 1990s.
Finally in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he became one of the lead voices of NASCAR both on FOX and CBS. Multiple iconic calls during the boom of NASCAR featured none other than Mike Joy. He is a wealth of motorsports knowledge, and no one appreciates the history of the sport quite like him.
2. Barney Hall
If you were a NASCAR fan, you knew who Barney Hall was. He was the top voice of NASCAR on the radio for many years, and that incredible voice helped make the sport easy to follow.
Commentating NASCAR on the radio is incredibly difficult when working with three or four different commentators all in different places on the race track. Barney Hall was the maestro who knew exactly when it was time for him to talk, and when it was time for someone else to. In an era when NASCAR on TV was still working its’ way upward, Hall guided many NASCAR fans through some incredible moments.
1. Ken Squier
The standard for NASCAR broadcasting was set with Ken Squier. Before Barney Hall was the “Voice of NASCAR” on MRN, it was Squier who held that distinction. Squier’s commentary style was similar to that of a great poet or a great author.
With his incredibly vivid language and brilliant metaphors, every lap with Squier behind the mic felt just a little bit different. You would rarely hear the same words twice on a broadcast, and Squier helped promote the sport as more than what people thought it was. The sport was an art form, and Squier sold it as such every time he was broadcasting.
Squier was the way that many were introduced to the sport. Not only on television, but also on the radio as well.
NASCAR will continue to have incredible commentators throughout these coming years, and they will undoubtedly add to this list. The energy and insight brought forth elevates not only a broadcast, but the sport as a whole.