After taking over for his father in 2003, CEO and Chairman of NASCAR Brian France, has had to endure multiple ups and downs during his reign as the sport’s top dog.
Named in Time Magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential of the Century" in 2006, France has seen NASCAR through an economic crisis, a shrink in attendance and TV viewership, and most recently, the biggest credibility crisis in the sports history.
September marks France’s 10 year anniversary as NASCAR’s CEO and through the last decade, he has made some major changes and additions within the sport. In 2004, France introduced the “Drive for Diversity” program. This program is geared towards bringing female and minority drivers and crewmen into NASCAR and helps them come up through the ranks. Some notable drivers who have been a part of the program have been Darrell Wallace Jr and Kyle Larson. NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program is still growing today.
That year, France changed the way the Cup Series drivers would race for the Championship. Introduced before the 2004 season, the Chase was born. Although it has gone through multiple changes and redesigns, the idea of the Chase as always remained the same; the final 10 races in the season will determine the Championship winner. There have been many drivers who have benefited from the Chase format but the most notable has been five-time Champion, Jimmie Johnson.
In 2008, “NASCAR Green” is launched and quickly became one of the largest environmental awareness platforms in the country. Thanks to NASCAR’s Green initiative, this sport has become the largest recycler and leader in renewable energy. “NASCAR Green” continues to grow to this day.
France also made multiple changes to the racing and the tracks during his 10-year reign. From implementing safer barriers at all NASCAR tracks, to double-file restarts, to random drug testing after each race, France has helped make NASCAR what it is today.
One of France’s biggest accomplishments has to be the addition of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2009, France helped announce the inaugural “Hall of Fame” inductees that included his grandfather Bill France Sr., his father Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson. Since then, many notable names have been added each and every year.
Most recently, France has had to save NASCAR from its biggest credibility crisis in the sports history. France had to weigh through controversy and scandal after the final race before the Chase in Richmond, Virginia. For the first time in Chase history, one driver was kicked out and two more were added, bringing the total number of drivers in the Chase to 13.
In his 10 years as the CEO of NASCAR, Brian France has seen NASCAR through many ups and downs but one thing is for certain, he has definitely made some great changes to the sport that we love. France celebrated his 10-year anniversary on September 13th and will continue to see over NASCAR for years to come.