Bill France Jr. dies
NASCAR Vice Chairman William C. France, whose leadership helped turn a family-owned company into a national phenomenon, died today at his home in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the age of 74.
France served as NASCAR’s president from 1972-2000, taking over from his father, NASCAR founder William H.G. “Big Bill” France.
In 2000, France – known as “Bill Jr.” – became NASCAR’s CEO and the chairman of the newly created NASCAR Board of Directors.
In October 2003, the torch was again passed, with France’s son Brian France taking over as Chairman and CEO. France became Vice Chairman at that time, whereupon his influence and input remained considerable – and valuable.
“He had a remarkable career and an even-more remarkable life,” said Brian France. “Words cannot express how much he’ll be missed by myself and the rest of our family and by the NASCAR industry overall.”
Mike Helton became NASCAR’s president in 2000. He was the third president in the sport’s history and the first not named France.
“Coming in, I had two big pairs of shoes to fill,” Helton said, talking about Bill Sr. and Bill Jr. “I was more familiar with Bill Jr.’s way of doing business but that didn’t make it any easier. He blazed so many trails for our sport. He was determined to follow the vision of his father while also expanding on that vision. Over nearly four decades, he did a masterful job.”
France is survived by his wife Betty Jane France, NASCAR’s assistant secretary; his son Brian; daughter Lesa France Kennedy, NASCAR’s vice president and assistant treasurer; his brother James C. France, NASCAR’s vice chairman and executive vice president; and three grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending.