NASCAR rallies around Jim France; future of CEO position murky
FridayAug 10, 2018 at 3:51 PM Aug 10, 2018 at 5:34 PM
What does the management future of NASCAR look like now that Chairman and CEO Brian France is taking a leave of absence following his DUI arrest Sunday?
First, donât expect any radical changes, and second, donât discount the return of France to the wholly family-owned business started by his grandfather Bill France Sr. in 1948.
Jim France, who is Brianâs uncle, has assumed his nephewâs dual roles on an interim basis for the foreseeable future, but the long-term outlook for someone to fill that role is murky.
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Driver Kyle Larson, when asked about the future of the chairman-CEO position, did not mince words during a press conference in Michigan International Speedway on Friday.
âI just hope whoever gets in that position takes it serious an d does a good job with it because there are so many people in this industry who want to see it succeed,â Larson said.
âI hope this is a good step to have a good change for us and get some good momentum back in our series.â
With only 14 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series left on the schedule from now until November, the soft-spoken, 73-year-old Jim France will likely finish out this season in his interim role.
There is no doubt France has the support and confidence of the NASCAR garage.
âHe is a really neat guy; a racer,â Cup driver Clint Bowyer said at Michigan on Friday. âWhen you really get to know him and talk to him and get some words out of him, he knows what is going on.â
Jim France has varied interests in motorsports, with deep roots in sports-car and motorcycle racing.
France founded Grand-Am Road Racing, which merged with the rival American Le Mans Series in 2014. The organization now calls itself the International Motor Sport s Association or more commonly IMSA.
IMSA now falls under the NASCAR banner of racing organizations.
In addition France has the rights to the American Motorcyclist Associationâs American Flat Track Series and promotes races throughout the country.
âHe loves sports-car racing, loves flat-track racing, loves motorcycle racing,â Bowyer said. âThis guy is a racer. He is definitely a neat guy.â
âThat is cool and a breath of fresh air to be around someone like that.â
Needless to say, Jim France has a full plate, but his primary focus for the remainder of 2018 will be to stabilize the NASCAR ship and assure its many stakeholders (team owners, primary sponsors, media partners) that Brian Franceâs personal troubles wonât spill over into the family business.
When Bill France Jr. handed the keys of the NASCAR kingdom to his son in 2003, he also created a NASCAR board of directors to oversee the health and well-being of the sport.
The board has ultimate decision-making power for the privately held company.
When Brian France became Chairman and CEO, he reportedly surrendered his NASCAR shares to the family, while Bill France Jr. and Jim France became vice-chairs of the board.
Bill France Jr., who was named NASCAR president by his father in 1972, died in 2007.
NASCARâs third president (2000-2015), Mike Helton, was named vice-chair of the board in 2015, joining Lesa France Kennedy in that capacity.
Kennedy doubles as the CEO of International Speedway Corp., which owns 12 race tracks that host half of the Cup Series races each year. ISC is another company started by Bill Sr., her grandfather.
While NASCAR does not publicize its board, another known member is current NASCAR president Brent Dewar.
Ultimately, the sanction bodyâs future leader â" the face of NASCAR â" will be decided by Jim France, Kennedy and the board.
With the exception of Helton for a handful of season s (Bill Jr. was still active behind the scenes), that top leadership position has been held by a member of the France family.
Whoever takes charge in the future will likely have âmust attend racesâ and âinteract with stakeholdersâ on a frequent basis in the job description.
Brian France is famously known for not spending much time in the garage area, breaking from the long-held tradition established by his grandfather and father.
Several competitors have said NASCARâs top executive should be accessible at the race track.
âFrom the driversâ perspective, itâs really important, (whomeverâs) in that position to become more connected,â driver Kevin Harvick said earlier this week on his radio show.
Kennedyâs 26-year-old son Ben Kennedy, who is general manager of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, is likely the heir apparent within the next decade, but still gaining on-the-job experience.
From 2011 to 2017, the Florida graduate competed at various levels of NASCAR competition as a driver.
His last appearance as a driver came in the 2017 Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Before the start of the 2018 season he announced he would begin working in the NASCAR organization.
âIâm excited to re-channel my energy and passion into something that could potentially have a greater impact on the sport,â Kennedy said on his social media platforms after the announcement was made Jan. 30.
At this point, what NASCAR does in 2019 to fill that key chairman-CEO slot is a mystery, but donât rule out the return of Brian France in some capacity.Source: Google News France | Netizen 24 France