Longtime NASCAR on Fox Sports TV broadcaster Steve Byrnes, who waged a difficult and public battle with cancer over the past two years, died Tuesday. Byrnes, a resident of Fort Mill, S.C., was 56.
Byrnes joined Fox Sports in 2001, hosting and reporting for multiple NASCAR programs and served as a pit road reporter for NASCAR on Fox’s broadcast of Sprint Cup Series races from 2001 through the 2014 season. He most recently served as the play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports 1 in the NASCAR Truck Series, and was co-host of “NASCAR Race Hub” for the network.
Last weekend, in conjunction with Fox, Speedway Motorsports Inc. and NASCAR, the Cup race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway was renamed the Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up To Cancer.
“NASCAR extends its condolences to the many friends, Fox Sports colleagues and family of Steve Byrnes,” said NASCAR Chairman Brian France in a statement. “Whether you had the privilege of knowing him or if you watched him on television for the last three decades, Steve’s work ethic and authenticity made him a beloved individual inside and outside the garage.”
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Visitation is 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at Calvary Church of Charlotte. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, with visitation to follow, also at Calvary Church. Palmetto Funeral Home of Fort Mill is in charge of the arrangements.
Before joining Fox, Byrnes also hosted “Darrell Waltrip’s Racers” on TNN, worked as a pit road reporter for CBS, WTBS and TNN, and hosted a variety of NASCAR programs for The History Channel and TNN. Byrnes’ first on-air job was at WCIV-TV in Charleston, S.C., in 1982. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1981.
“Steve was a person who had a real passion for his job, and that’s what made him stand out as one the best at what he did,” said seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty. “He was always humble, too, and I never saw him treat anyone unfairly. That’s just how he did his job and lived his life.”
Survivors are his wife, Karen; son, Bryson; parents, Jerry and Claire Byrnes of Charlotte; sister, Betsy Byrnes of Charlotte; brother, Dan Byrnes and his wife, Tammy, of Charlotte; nephews, Tyler and Dylan Byrnes; and niece, Samantha Byrnes.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Church of Christ, 1055 Gold Hill Road, Fort Mill, S.C. 29708; Charlotte Christian School, 7301 Sardis Road, Charlotte, N.C. 28270; or NASCAR Foundation, One Daytona Blvd., 6th Floor, Daytona Beach, Fla. 32114.
Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter