Longtime NASCAR chairman France Jr. dies
Rick Hendrick couldn't remember the year, but he recalled vividly the day he and fellow team owner Larry McClure went to protest to then-NASCAR president Bill France Jr. about having to put their cars through a wind tunnel test.
"McClure was the first one to see him," Hendrick said. "Bill said something like, 'I'll take your car. I'll take any car I want to take.'
"Then he turned to me and said, 'Now, what do you want?' I said, 'I just came by to speak.'"
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BILL FRANCE JR. DIES
Bill France Jr., who transformed NASCAR into a billion-dollar conglomerate during his 31 years as chairman, died Monday at the age of 74.
• Became NASCAR chairman in 1972.
• Parlayed fan base of the Deep South into sold-out tracks in New England, California, Texas and Midwest.
• Developed Winston Cup season championship.
• Helped NASCAR get long-term TV contracts with major networks.
• Moved season-ending awards banquet to New York City.
• Diagnosed with cancer in late 1999.
• Relinquished role as NASCAR president to Mike Helton in 2003. Handed chairman duties to son Brian in 2003.
• Inducted into International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004.
• Last public appearance was Feb. 12 in Daytona Beach, where he was roasted by NASCAR's top names.
• Survived by wife, Betty Jane; younger brother, James C. France, vice chairman and executive vice president of NASCAR; daughter, Lesa France Kennedy, vice president of NASCAR and president of International Speedway Corp.; and son, Brian.