Multiple generations of racers is fairly common, but Rick Staley is the patriarch of three generations of racing announcers. Rick announces at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Missouri, along with his grandson, Marcus Henggeler. Rick’s son, Allen Staley serves as announcer and publicist for POWRi.
“I feel a sense of pride,” Rick, of Parnell, Missouri, said. “I’d call myself a color commentator, but my son and grandson are statisticians. They are great race announcers and they let everyone know everything about the drivers, their sponsors, and their cars.”
First Gen: Rick Staley
Rick’s race announcing goes back to 1982, when he got his first assignment at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, North Carolina.
“[The promoter] said, ‘I bet you can’t announce,’” said Rick. “I said, ‘I bet you I can.’ I did, and it became my weekly gig after that.”
Fans seemed to enjoy Rick’s unique style.
“I approached racing with a sense of humor and a sense of excitement,” Rick said. “I would call myself an ‘equal opportunity harasser.’ I made comments about drivers, fans, you know it [but] always done in good humor that did not insult or hurt anyone’s feelings.”
Staley would call a friend out by name as he saw them walking in front of the grandstand.
“Your probation officer is looking for you at the main gate,” Rick would say.
He chided drivers who wrecked after they got out of the car safely.
“You do know that a car is supposed to have four wheels on the ground,” Rick would say.
When out-of-state cars came to the track, he welcomed them to the track.
“Glad you got that all cleared up and they finally let you cross the state line,” Rick would say.
Rick moved to Missouri in 1989, and he soon found himself behind the mic again.
“I got a call from Jim Wilson, who used to work for NASCAR,” said Rick. “He asked me to announce at Bethany Fairgrounds Speedway, telling me he was looking for something different and someone told him about me.”
Second Gen: Allen Staley
Rick tried to get his son, Allen, to announce, but Allen at first resisted.
“One day I got laryngitis, so I asked Allen, who was 17 at the time, to announce for me,” Rick said. “He refused and said he physically could not do it — stand up in front of people and talk.”
Then, Rick changed his approach.
“I told Allen I needed someone to work in the announcer’s booth behind the scenes,” said Rick. “Every so often I would get tied up with some task, which I invented, just to hand him the microphone and tell him to take over. It worked. It was like a light came on; we became an announcing team.”
Third Gen: Marcus Henggeler
As with Allen, Marcus helped Rick behind the scenes.
“Last year, he worked with me and watched me,” Rick said. “This year, I found it hard to get up and down the steps to do on-track interviews. The track needed an announcer in the field. Promoter Jon Boller told me, ‘No one wants to play second fiddle to you,’ and that’s when Marcs looked up and said, ‘I’ll do it.’”
That made Rick beam with pride.
“Marcus is 19 now and could stand up to the best of them,” said Rick. “He has a good clear voice for announcing. It is up to him to see how far he can take it.”
While Marcus and Allen approach announcing differently than their patriarch Rick Staley, Rick’s influence can still be seen.
“My son and grandson are more strait-laced than I am,” Rick said. “But, every once in a while, my old one-liner jokes from back in the days in North Carolina will break through while they are announcing, and that makes me feel good.”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 51st year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.