A beloved and long-time journalist in the NASCAR world has died at the age of 80 years old. Tom Higgins, who told stories about this popular form of stock-car racing for the Charlotte Observer until his retirement in 1997, passed away this morning due to complications from a second stroke.
Higgins, who was raised in the mountain community of Burnsville, North Carolina, was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and was also recognized with the Henry T. McLemore Award for lifetime achievement in motorsports journalism from the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1980.
Although this award-winning journalist became a two-sport standout in baseball and basketball, he was also won over by stock-car racing after covering his first NASCAR event in July of 1956 at the former Asheville-Weaverville Speedway.
From the sport’s pioneers to the most recent generation of drivers and mechanics, Higgins covered them all with a homespun style. He chronicled the life of original NASCAR hero Junior Johnson in a book he co-authored with Steve Waid, the 2019 Squier-Hall honoree.
After his retirement from the Observer, Higgins remained active as a writer on a freelance basis and on his personal blog. He said later that his philosophy for covering the sport and cultivating relationships was borrowed from his mountain upbringing, a code among the community to treat people fairly and with respect.
Drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon were among several in the NASCAR community to offer condolences to the Higgins family on social media.
We at RacingJunk.com send our condolences out to the entire Higgins family as well as all of his friends and fans. This storyteller made an indelible contribution to this sport for both fans and competitors. He was a great guy and will be missed by many.