Bill France Jr.:
during the race broadcast on FOX from Dover, it was reported that NASCAR Chairman, Bill France Jr., 74, passed away today, Monday, June 4, 2007.
Bill France Jr., who transformed NASCAR from a small Southern sport into a billion-dollar conglomerate during his 31 years as chairman, died Monday. He was 74. He died at his Daytona Beach, Fla., home, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. France had been in poor health for much of the last decade - he was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. Although he was in remission, the extensive treatments took a toll. He never regained his full strength, often had difficulty breathing and had taken to using a motorized scooter to get around. France was hospitalized at least twice this year but spent his final days resting at home. His last public appearance was Feb. 12 in Daytona Beach, where NASCAR's top names gathered to "Roast and Toast" him at the Bill France Hot Dog Dinner during the Daytona 500 build-up. Even there, especially there, France Jr., who ruled NASCAR with an iron fist, called the shots. His toasters that evening were gently reminded to avoid any harsh roasting. France did not speak during the dinner but received guests from his seat on the banquet floor.(Associated Press
Statement from NASCAR:
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.(NASCAR)(6-4-2007)