NASCAR Hall of Fame member
William Clifton France is remembered — and revered — as the man who followed his visionary father at NASCAR’s helm, in the process becoming a visionary himself, as he guided NASCAR to unprecedented levels of popularity.
(b. 4-4-33 — d. 6-4-07)
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
He combined pragmatism with optimism, an approach that resulted in a calculated — and adventurous — road to success.
France, who died in June 2007 at the age of 74, grew up in the formative years of stock car racing, living and learning every detail of the sport from his own experiences and those of his father William Henry Getty France — who was known as Bill Sr., or “Big Bill” because of his 6-foot-5 stature. Bill Sr. was the founder and first president of NASCAR.
France Jr. became NASCAR’s president in January 1972, replacing his father and becoming only the second president of the world’s largest auto racing sanctioning body. His emergence coincided with the sport’s emergence, and its eventual ascent to become America’s No. 1 form of motorsports and the nation’s second-most popular sport overall.
France, often referred to as “Bill Jr.,” remained president until November 2000, when Mike Helton took over the position. At that time, France announced the formation of a NASCAR board of directors on which he served as chairman and CEO until October 2003 when he was replaced by his son, Brian Z. France. After that, he continued to serve the sport for the remainder of his life as NASCAR vice chairman.
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