NASCAR Hall of Fame member
William Henry Getty France was called “Big Bill,” and only partly because of his 6-foot-5 stature. He was larger than life it seemed, during the years of founding, then building, a sport. In the years since his 1992 death, his legend has grown, along with that sport.
(b. 9-26-09 — d. 6-7-92)
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
France spearheaded NASCAR from its beginning and directed it to its present status as the world’s largest stock car racing organization. Born in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 1909, he came to Daytona Beach, Fla., in the 1930s. In 1936, he helped lay out the first beach/road course in Daytona Beach; in the first race on the course he finished fifth. Starting in 1938, he helped promote races on the sands of Daytona Beach. That endeavor was interrupted by World War II but resumed in 1946.
In 1947, France became the driving force behind the establishment of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. NASCAR, it was called, resulting from a famous meeting at the Streamline Hotel on State Road A1A in Daytona Beach — a structure that stands to this day, as a racing landmark.
In January 1972, France stepped down as president of NASCAR and handed the reins to his son William C. France. The elder France continued to be a consultant for a number of years, in addition to serving as ISC Chairman/President.
“Big Bill” France passed away in June 1992. He left behind a lasting legacy.
He remains larger than life — still.
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