SALEM - The National Hot Road Association will be honoring one of its most celebrated announcers at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk this weekend.
Leo Taugher, a longtime NHRA national and divisional event announcer and "Voice of the North Central Division" has been named the Grand Marshal for the upcoming 7th annual Mickey Mart Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser at Summit Motorsports Park, May 17-19.
Taugher will be honored this Saturday during pre-race ceremonies of what has become the largest NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event in the country.
Taugher, who will be 68 on July 4, is a lifelong Salem resident and a 1963 Salem High School graduate and served in the United State Marine Corps in from 1969 to 1971.
He began announcing at Quaker City Raceway in 1972 for track operators Richard and Vivian Mossey.
"It evolved from 1972," Taugher said Wednesday.
His day job was with the Mahoning County Training Association after his service in the marines.
In 1977, he was part of the announcing crew for the inaugural NHRA Division 3 E.T. Finals, now recognized as the NHRA Summit Racing Series.
"We did the E.T. bracket finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky," Taugher said, adding that Bob Daniels had asked him to join the NHRA certification team.
"That led to my 'nationals' (announcing) and I branched out significantly in 2005 after I retired. The rest is history."
The 1978 U.S. Nationals was Taugher's first national event and in 1988 he was named the North Central Division's official announcer covering special events throughout the division and emceeing the annual "Land of the Winners" awards banquet.
During the 1988 ceremonies, NHRA Division 3 Director Jay Hullinger presented Taugher with a special team ring.
The NHRA said, "Taugher's distinctive voice and vast knowledge of NHRA sportsman racing has made him one of the favorites of racers and fans alike.
"Over the years he has worked alongside Dave McClelland, Steve Evans, Bob Frey and Alan Reinhart to bring out the excitement of NHRA Drag Racing."
Frey said, "Leo is the consummate professional. Over the years I have worked with him and learned from him, and the main thing that I learned is that Leo is loved and respected by the racers and that's the highest form of praise for an announcer.
"He is also a good friend and richly deserves this special honor."
The Mickey Mart Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser gets under way this morning including eliminations for Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street from the rained out NHRA Spring Spectacle of Speed event at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org