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Tom Higgins to get NASCAR’s Squier-Hall Award

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Retired reporter Tom Higgins has been named the 2015 recipient of NASCAR’s Squier-Hall Award for media excellence.

Higgins was the first beat writer to cover every race on the NASCAR schedule. He covered NASCAR for the Charlotte Observer from 1980 until his retirement in 1997.

He will be honored during NASCAR’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in January and featured in an exhibit in the Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Tom Higgins helped establish what it means to be a NASCAR beat reporter,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said. “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’ newspaper career started in 1957 at the weekly Canton Enterprise in North Carolina. While at the Asheville Times in North Carolina, 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-car racing as well. He has continued to write motorsports nostalgia columns for the newspaper in retirement.

Affectionately known as “Pappy,” Higgins was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 2011. He also is a member of NASCAR’s Hall of Fame voting panel.

Higgins was among eight nominees voted on by a panel comprised of NASCAR and NASCAR Hall of Fame executives, journalists, public relations representatives and former drivers. The other seven nominees were Norma “Dusty” Brandel, Russ Catlin, Shav Glick, Bob Jenkins, Bob Moore, Benny Phillips and T. Taylor Warren.

The Squier-Hall Award was created in 2012 to honor the contributions of media to the success of the sport. It’s named after broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall, who were the award’s initial recipients.