His father, Bill Sr., founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing in 1947 and ran it until 1972, when he turned it over to Bill Jr., who became its president. A younger son, Jim, also became an executive.
At the time, Nascar was largely confined to the South and had limited interest nationally. By 2003, when Bill Jr. stepped aside, Nascar had become a stunning marketing success, drawing national television audiences second only to those for National Football League games.
Besides owning Nascar, the France family also has controlling interest in the publicly owned International Speedway Corporation. The corporation owns and operates many of the country’s major tracks, including those at Daytona Beach; Talladega, Ala.; Darlington, S.C.; and Watkins Glen, N.Y. It shares its headquarters with Nascar in a Daytona Beach complex.
Bill Sr. died in 1992 at 82. In 2000, Bill Jr. made Mike Helton, Nascar’s senior vice president, the new president. When Bill Jr. retired as Nascar chairman in 2003 in favor of his son, Brian, he remained a vice chairman as well as the chairman of International Speedway Corporation.
Besides his son and his brother, Jim, a vice chairman of International Speedway and the executive vice president of Nascar, France’s survivors include his wife, the former Betty Jane Zachary, whom he married in 1957; a daughter, Lesa France Kennedy, the president of International Speedway; and three grandchildren.