Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Do You Remember When?
Bill France Jr. passed away on June 4th of last year. Viewers may remember that it was actually during a live race that the news broke. France lived in the footsteps of his father and worked hard in the sport. That is a picture below of a young Bill Jr. driving a grader on what would become the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway.
The picture above is what many NASCAR fans remember as their first exposure to the sport. Bob Jenkins and the late Larry Nuber used the new cable TV network ESPN to carry the message and the pictures of stock car racing far beyond the Southeastern United States.
This was a time in the sport when rough men and rough driving gave way to good competition and legendary rivalries. Mr. France kept a tight reign on the group with a small inner circle of executives, some of whom still work in NASCAR today.
Mr. France was set in his ways and strong in his beliefs, but always listened to those with an opinion. New ideas came about after a lot of discussion and sometimes a lot of arguments. He led NASCAR through a transition period of national TV exposure and used the growth of cable TV to the advantage of the sport.
Granted, it was a different time and a different technology, but the leadership he provided kept a sport of very strong characters in control during his tenure. I thought it would be a good moment to remember him and get your thoughts.
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You can click directly on the pictures above to download the full size images.