NASCAR

France family puts fans first

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Steve Byrnes

Steve Byrnes is a host and reporter for NASCAR on FOX. A broadcast veteran, he has covered racing for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter.

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The France family has stayed true to its commitment of putting on a show. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. said that the sport was for the fans. We don't always like the sanctioning body's decisions, but when your mission statement is to put on a good show for the fans, a lot of other professional sports could learn from NASCAR. Bill France Jr. took his father's mandate and had the vision to grow it, which will be his greatest legacy. He and his family had a mission, and they were committed to that mission. While he was an old-school guy, he was a new thinker who brought the sport to live television in 1979 with CBS's first live, flag-to-flag Daytona 500. Years ago, someone in NASCAR public relations told me Bill France Jr. loved the Internet and would follow practice.

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I've heard that he ruled with an iron fist, but I disagree with that assessment because he was always accessible. I was a little intimidated of him, but any time I called Daytona and asked for an interview, he said, "What time do you want to do it?" In fact, one time back in the late 1980s, he actually flew his corporate plane to Charlotte to do an interview. For a young guy, that was pretty impressive. You don't have to agree with every decision NASCAR makes — and certainly not everyone does — but France's legacy is that he carried out the vision of being committed to the fans.


NASCAR on FOX and SPEED host and reporter Steve Byrnes has covered racing for more than 20 years.

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