Longtime The Charlotte Observer reporter Tom Higgins has been named the recipient of the 2015 Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Higgins was the first beat writer to cover every race on the NASCAR schedule, a role he held from 1980 until his retirement in 1997.
He will be honored during NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony festivities on Jan. 30, 2015 and featured in an exhibit in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
Higgins’ professional newspaper career started in 1957 at the weekly Canton (N.C.) Enterprise. While at the Asheville (N.C.) Times, he covered racing for the first time. Higgins joined the sports staff at The Observer in 1964 as an outdoors writer and soon began covering stock racing as well. He has continued to write motorsports nostalgia columns for the newspaper and its website ThatsRacin.com since his retirement.
“Tom Higgins helped establish what it means to be a NASCAR beat reporter,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “For more than five decades, his words have told the story of NASCAR, and the people and emotions that define the sport. He has been much more than a reporter to those in the NASCAR industry – serving as friend and confidant to competitors, administrators and his fellow journalists.”
Higgins, affectionately known as “Pappy,” won the International Motorsports Hall of Fame Henry T. McLemore Award for lifetime achievement in motorsports journalism in 1980, the NMPA George Cunningham Award as writer of the year in 1987 and was named the NASCAR Bill France Award of Excellence winner in 1996. He was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame in 2011. He is also a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel.
Higgins was among eight nominees voted upon by a panel comprised of NASCAR and NASCAR Hall of Fame executives, journalists, public relations representatives and former drivers. The Squier-Hall Award was created in 2012 to honor the contributions of media to the success of the sport. Legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall, for whom the award is named, were its initial recipients.
The other seven nominees were:
- Norma “Dusty” Brandel, the first woman to report from inside the NASCAR garage
- Russ Catlin, one of the best-known early racing writers and historians, served as editor of Speed Age Magazine
- Shav Glick, covered motorsports for the Los Angeles Times for 37 years, bringing NASCAR coverage to the West Coast
- Bob Jenkins, served as the lead NASCAR lap-by-lap anchor at ESPN from 1982-2000.
- Bob Moore, spent more than 20 years as a NASCAR beat writer including stints with the Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Charlotte Observer
- Benny Phillips, spent 48 years covering NASCAR for the High Point (N.C.) Enterprise, 27 years for Stock Car Racing and 12 years on TBS
- T. Taylor Warren, best known for his three-wide photo of the 1959 Daytona 500 finish, he covered every Daytona 500 until his death in 2008.