Tuesday, June 05, 2007

God's speed Bill France Jr

The funeral service for Bill France Jr., the visionary leader of the NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. for more than three decades, has been scheduled for Thursday at the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center, at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach.

France died Monday afternoon at his home in Daytona Beach. He was 74.

In lieu of flowers, the France family requests donations be made to the NASCAR Foundation; the Halifax Medical Center Foundation Inc./Betty Jane France Pediatric Center (also known as the "Speediatrics" children's unit); or another NASCAR-related charity of choice.

Team California's Best would like to express our sincere condolences to the France family. Not only will we miss Bill but in fact there were plans to talk to him after this years 20th anniversary running of the La Carrera Panamericana. Since Bill France drove in the La Carrera in 1950 and this being the 20th anniversary of the rebirth of the race we were all looking forward to simply saying we had ran in a race that Bill France among others had competed in. The North Americans who showed up in Juarez that year were a mixture of professional racers, amateurs, adventurers and it was Bill France founder of NASCAR who was reputedly the leader of the "good old boys" from the South. Also in attendance was Herschel McGriff from Oregon and a large contingent from California. Respectfully, instead of taking part in sorrow for Bill's death we will celebrate by taking his memories with us. Whenever possible we will look out across the views that the Pan American Highway offer and remember Bill was there long before us and what a blast he must have had. What an honor it will be to compete on the same roads that took Bill France and so many other champions into the history books.

For more than a quarter of a century, it was the guidance of William C. France, known to the racing world as Bill France, Jr., that thrust NASCAR to the top of the professional sporting world. After taking the reins from his father, family patriarch Bill France, Sr., in January of 1972, Bill Jr. used his business acumen to take the family business to new heights. Other than the founding of NASCAR itself, Bill Jr.’s appointment to leadership is probably the most significant event in the history of the sanctioning body. As rule-maker, promoter, ambassador, and salesman, France has set the standard by which all other forms of motorsports are measured. He has taken it from a regional sport to a national sport, and nurtured its growing popularity on television, culminating in a record-setting $2.4 billion broadcast contract. He handed the presidency of NASCAR to Mike Helton in 2000, and was succeeded by his son, Brian, as the CEO and Chairman of the Board in 2003. As of his induction in 2004, Bill France, Jr. and his brother Jim were co-vice chairmen of a six-member Board of Directors that also included Brian, Lesa Kennedy, Helton and George Pyne.

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