NASCAR reporter Steve Byrnes died Tuesday at the age of 56 after a long fight with cancer.
The native of New Carrollton, Maryland began covering NASCAR in 1985 as host of TNN’s “Inside Winston Cup Racing” and also served as a pit reporter for the cable network as well as CBS.
In 2001, he joined the NASCAR on FOX team as a pit reporter and hosted the weekday show “Totally NASCAR” on FOX Sports Net. He continued covering races for FOX and hosted several shows across SPEED and FOX Sports 1, and in 2014, he was named the play-by-play announcer for FS1’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races.
In January, NASCAR named Byrnes to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel.
“It’s an emotional thing for me,” Byrnes said. “My whole adult life has been immersed in NASCAR, and it means the world to me.”
Steve Byrnes was initially diagnosed with head-and-neck cancer in August 2013, and he was successfully treated for the disease in the fall of that year.
In 2014, Byrnes returned to the FOX NASCAR team to cover his 30th Daytona Speedweeks and continued in his role as host of FOX Sports 1’s “NASCAR Race Hub” until taking a leave of absence last October after a reoccurrence of head-and-neck cancer.
“I struggle for words because it sounds so cliché but every day is a gift,” Byrnes told “NASCAR Illustrated” last fall. “I’m trying so hard right now to rather than be scared or worried, to live in the moment. Every time I start to worry about the future, it makes me realize — particularly this second go-around — that the only promise … if you wake up in the morning, that’s a good thing and you should be grateful for that. It sounds corny or cliché, but there is no promise for tomorrow. I’m trying to make the most of every single day.”
Before his passing, Byrnes spent as much time as possible with his wife, Karen, and their son, Bryson.
“People talk about a bucket list,” Byrnes said in the “NASCAR Illustrated” interview. “My bucket list is that my son and my wife know how much I love them, so that when my time does come there will be no mystery. They’re not gonna have to wonder how Dad or Steve felt about them.”
The NASCAR family rallied around Byrnes and his family. Among the many gestures of support by many in the industry, Red Horse Racing’s Timothy Peters drove a Toyota Tundra with the reporter’s name above the passenger side window to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway last October after winning a Truck race.
Days after his birthday on April 13, Bristol Motor Speedway named its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in his honor, the Food City 500 Supports Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer. When discussing the naming of the race, a humbled Byrnes also shared his signature sense of humor.
“It’s more than overwhelming,” Byrnes said. “My first reaction was there must be somebody else named Steve Byrnes who spells it with a ‘y.’ ”
When asked about the support he received and the passion he has for NASCAR, Byrnes explained how he would like to be remembered.
“I just want people to know that I care that much back,” Byrnes told “NASCAR Illustrated”. “At the end of the day, when my career is over, that I really did care. I wasn’t doing this just as a job.”