CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Tom Higgins, a journalist who covered NASCAR for 33 years at the Charlotte Observer and was inducted into the auto racing series’ Hall of Fame, has died. He was 80.

The Observer said Higgins died Tuesday . He suffered a stroke last August.

Higgins covered NASCAR at the Observer from 1964, the early days of the stock car series, until 1997, when the sport began to expand beyond the South. Higgins was prolific, often writing four or five byline stories per day; his personal record was 12.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France called Higgins ”a media giant” and said Higgins’ was ”a must-read journalist whose reporting was rightly taken as gospel.” He also covered outdoors for the Observer.

Higgins in 2015 was the fourth recipient of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. He was honored during that year’s induction ceremony and was featured in an exhibit at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

Higgins is survived by two children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com

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