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Motorsports

NASCAR remains a family business

Bill France Jr. names his son, Brian, the sport's new chairman and CEO.

By Associated Press
Published September 14, 2003

LOUDON, N.H. - His father gave him the keys to the family car known as NASCAR on Jan. 10, 1972. Now Bill France Jr., 70, has decided his son is ready to drive.

Brian Z. France, 41, was named chairman of the board and chief executive officer of NASCAR on Saturday.

"Brian is well-prepared to lead this sport and this company into the future," France Jr. said.

He'll talk about it more Monday, when NASCAR's senior management team discusses this latest major change within the sport in a teleconference.

The news was supposed to break Monday but someone at Nextel, the series' new title sponsor, leaked it to ESPN.com.

Brian has been directly involved in the sport's growth from southern passion to national obsession as president of NASCAR's broadcasting and digital entertainment with an office in Los Angeles.

The passing of the torch isn't a surprise. Bill France Jr. has been in declining health, battling cancer and heart problems. In 1999 he turned over the day-to-day operations to Mike Helton, who remains the NASCAR president.

France also owns International Speedway Corporation, which operates 13 tracks, including Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. He regularly is listed by Forbes as one of America's richest businessmen.

France's father, Big Bill, started the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing in 1948. Junior did every job imaginable to aid his dad and help the sport grow.

"I worked in the construction of the tracks, repairing guardrails," France Jr. said in 2001. "I parked cars during the events, worked the concession stand and made hot dogs. I stubbed tickets. We call the ticket taker the stubber."

He also toyed with the idea of becoming a driver, like his dad. "I drove in a few races," France said. "What I found out right quickly is if you're going to be a race driver, you need to be a race driver and not out parking cars. You can't park cars then go practice two laps and go park some more cars."

Though not unexpected, the latest France family news was still a stunner in the garage at New Hampshire International Speedway, where the Winston Cup's Sylvania 300 will be run this afternoon.

"Bill's done so much for us, it's time that he do something for himself," driver Rusty Wallace said. "I don't know why he hasn't done it already. If I was him, I'd be enjoying life right now instead of screwing around with controversy at times.

"We wouldn't be here, you guys wouldn't be covering us and I wouldn't be driving these cars if it wasn't for Bill France Jr."

NEW HAMPSHIRE 200: Jimmy Spencer held off Carl Edwards, bouncing the rookie off the wall on the way to victory in his second Truck series race.

Edwards, winner of three of the previous seven races, appeared to have a faster truck but found himself stuck behind Spencer, a Winston Cup regular, on a restart with 16 laps to go at the Loudon track.

Jeff Burton, another Winston Cup driver acting as Edwards' spotter, told his driver, "You know who that is up there. You'd better wait."

Edwards said, "I didn't listen to him."

As the two came off Turn 4 on Lap 185, Edwards moved up to the rear of Spencer's truck and the two came together, sending Edwards banging off the wall.

Edwards kept his truck under control and held off Bobby Hamilton to finish second.

"I should have waited," Edwards said. "I had a better truck and I got up there and raced too hard with him. It was a lot of fun, but I just messed up."

SYLVANIA 300: Mark Martin reaches a major milestone today: He'll make his 500th consecutive Winston Cup start. Martin starts 33rd in the No. 6 Ford and is 14th in points, 1,003 behind Matt Kenseth.


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