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Brewster: Pioneer reporter Dusty Brandel to receive NASCAR Hall of Fame recognition

By in Press Enterprise on January 4, 2018

By Louis Brewster

Little did the motorsports world know that, in addition to future stars such as Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby, a sports car race at Grand Central Airport in Glendale would also produce another big name.

Norma “Dusty” Brandel was covering that November 1955 race for the Glendale Citizen-News. Six decades later, on the opposite end of the country on Jan. 12, Brandel will be honored at the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., as the recipient of the Squier-Hall Award. Named after NASCAR broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall, the award was created in 2012 to honor media contributions to the sport. Squier and Hall were the initial recipients.

Past winners include Chris Economaki, Tom Higgins, Steve Byrnes and Benny Phillips. Brandel was chosen from a field of eight that also included the late L.A. Times writer Shav Glick, Russ Catlin, George Cunningham, Bob Jenkins, Bob Moore, Taylor Warren and Steve Waid.

“As the first woman to report from inside the NASCAR garage, Dusty Brandel blazed a trail for generations of reporters who followed her lead,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO last summer when the 2018 winner was revealed. “Though she was a pioneer for female journalists, that fact soon became just a footnote in an exemplary career – her journalistic talents and her dedication throughout a more than six-decade career far transcended gender. We look forward to honoring her with the well-deserved Squier-Hall Award.”

In 1972, Brandel created NASCAR history by reporting live from the Ontario Motor Speedway garages. A year earlier, she was among the first women allowed in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press room. Brandel was also among the first to drive Riverside International Raceway and has been a regular at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway since opening day in 1997.

“Dusty’s commitment to auto racing coverage […]    

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