Remembering Bill France

Racing personalities throughout the country share their thoughts following the passing of NASCAR Vice Chairman William C. France on Monday.

Editor's Note: Check back throughout the day as more comments will be added as they are received.

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Bill France Jr. Bill was a legend in the world of NASCAR whose passion and vision for stock-car racing led the sport to the national prominence it enjoys today. Bill brought racing’s excitement to millions of new fans through his steadfast and innovative leadership. Bill also helped ensure that the NASCAR community found many ways to support the men and women of the US Armed Forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with the France family." -President George W. Bush

"He had a remarkable career and an even-more remarkable life. Words cannot express how much he'll be missed by myself and the rest of our family and by the NASCAR industry overall." -NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.

"Bill France Jr. was not only a leader in our sport but he was also a very good friend. Not only did he teach me a lot about our sport but he taught me numerous lessons about life. Over the last several years, NASCAR has grown to an unprecedented level of popularity. None of that would have been possible without the vision and leadership Mr. France provided. My thoughts and prayers go out to Betty Jane, Brian, Lesa and the entire France family." -Richard Childress

"Bill France Jr. was more than a good friend of mine. He was a legend in motor racing. NASCAR and motor racing worldwide would not have seen the growth and prosperity it has without Bill's vision and determination. He single-handedly made it the reality it is today by understanding what the fans wanted and by creating an environment where on-track competition was king. Bill also understood and encouraged the automobile manufacturers to become a major part of the sport. I personally loved the opportunities I had to sit with him, discussing racing, business and family. He had a wonderful perspective on everything going on around him. Everyone at Ford, and me personally, lost a great friend today." -Edsel B. Ford II - member, Board of Directors, Ford Motor Company

"Bill Jr. and his dad were the backbones of NASCAR. They both knew how to promote racing and their kids are doing a great job of carrying on. But it was Bill Jr. who parlayed what his father had started to make NASCAR the household name it is today. It’s a shame that the racing world has lost a fine gentleman and personally it’s tough for me because he was a good friend of mine." -A.J. Foyt

"The world of racing has lost a true innovator in Bill France, Jr., who made NASCAR the premiere sport it is today. His vision, tenacity and friendship will be missed. He left the sport better and provided the foundation for continued growth. Chevrolet and General Motors extends its thoughts and prayers to the France family." -Brent Dewar; General Motors North America Vice President of Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing

"As a former Daytona International Speedway president, Bill France always kept a keen eye on the track that his father Bill France Sr. founded and built. I have been honored to have his guidance and experience at my disposal during my tenure as track president. Bill France was a great ambassador to the sport and under his watch, led unparalleled growth for Daytona International Speedway, International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family at this time." -Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig

"Having had the opportunity to learn how to operate a motorsports facility under the tutelage of Bill France Jr. was certainly one of the most impactful things in my life. His work ethic, wide range of knowledge and attention to detail are things I try to apply in business, as well as everyday life. His passing is a tremendous loss to the NASCAR community, as we have lost not only our leader and a pioneer of the sport, but also our friend. My thoughts and prayers are with the France family as we all go through this time of sorrow and grief." -Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch

"Words can’t describe the impact Bill France Jr. had on our sport. From the millions of NASCAR fans to those of us who make our livelihood in NASCAR, we all have Bill to thank for his vision and leadership. I knew Bill for more than 17years, so I know he would have wanted us to get right back to work to help promote the sport he loved. We will carry on, but we’ll do so with heavy hearts. We will miss him tremendously." -Richmond International Raceway President Doug Fritz

"We are deeply saddened to learn of today’s passing of Bill France. Mr. France and Lesa Kennedy had the vision to expand NASCAR to the Midwest and build Kansas Speedway, which has is one of the top tracks on the NASCAR circuit. This has been an extremely difficult year for the NASCAR family which has also lost Benny Parsons and Bobby Hamilton." -Kansas Speedway President Jeff Boerger

"Bill was a great friend and business partner. He ranks near the top of the list of people I most respect. Besides his companionship, what I will miss most is his humor. His wit was sharp as a butcher's knife. His personal dedication to building NASCAR will be his legacy, and his leadership will be long remembered. My condolences to Betty Jane, Jim and the family." -Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Tony George

"It's a sad day, the sport of auto racing has lost a giant. Bill France Jr. was without a doubt the person responsible for bringing NASCAR to a major league level. I always enjoyed his company. I will miss him as will the entire motorsports community." -Sterling Marlin

"With the passing of Bill France Jr. we have lost one of the greatest corporate leaders of our time. His contributions to the competitors, sponsors and millions and fans that follow the sport are beyond compare. Everyone at DEI will be forever grateful to Bill for giving us the opportunity to compete and build businesses that provide entertainment to millions and a livelihood to all of the people employed in some capacity by this sport. He led with an unselfish approach and we have all benefited from his wisdom." -Teresa Earnhardt, Chief Executive Officer of Dale Earnhardt Inc.

"It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Bill France, Jr. His vision and determination played a critical role in guiding and developing the sport of NASCAR into what it is today. We join with all members of the NASCAR family in remembering a great leader and in sending our condolences to the France family." -Jim Aust, President and C.E.O., Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A.

"It is hard to work with your Dad and them work with their son. I know that is hard. The fact that they have been able to do that so successfully for such a long and be as strong as they are today, is really and truly an accomplishment. Really and truly, we trust NASCAR. We may not agree with them about everything, but we trust them to make good decisions. He made good decisions. My family is indebted to him; our sport is indebted to him. I think you will see a lot of that the next few weeks, appreciation for everything he did and an outpouring toward him and his family." -J.D. Gibbs, President of Joe Gibbs Racing

"It's a profound loss for the sport. His Dad really started NASCAR, but he's the one probably most responsible for the state of our sport today. He's one of those giants - very intimidating to me. I didn't know him well, but my Dad was close with him and I know that made my Dad very very proud to get close to someone that not a lot of others did." -Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"He meant everything to it and to me. I can remember going to his father's funeral and at that time, seeing Bill Junior just come along and just take a hold of this sport and take it to the next level. He was a voice and personality that took this sport to another level. I'm really saddened to hear that news. I knew he wasn't doing well. I wish I could have had a chance to see him and talk to him before he went. Certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire France family. He's going to be missed. It's going to be hard to be a part of this sport without him." -Jeff Gordon

"It’s very difficult to properly put into perspective Bill France Jr.’s contribution to the stock car racing industry. Bill France Sr. developed and organized the sport, and Bill Jr. actively participated in laying that foundation. As his role evolved over time, he came to be recognized as a leader our sport needed, and he was well suited to the task. He didn’t seek a great deal of personal attention, but was full well prepared to take a position on an issue as necessary, always with the betterment of the sport in mind." -ARCA President Ron Drager

"It's just sad. You look at what he's been able to do in the time he's been with NASCAR and obviously learning from his father. There aren't enough words to describe what he's meant to this sport and what he's done for it. I guarantee it's the biggest loss in racing since Dale Earnhardt, and probably bigger." -Tony Stewart

"I've never seen anyone who could strike the balance that Bill did. He knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish and rarely compromised, yet always made it a point to be fair. We've lost a strong leader, a visionary businessman and a truly amazing person. Bill was one of the toughest guys I've ever met, but he had a soft side, too. Words cannot express how much his friendship and support meant to me and my family during the most difficult of times. We shared a love for the ocean -- fishing and telling stories -- and it's those moments that I'll cherish forever." -Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports

"Everyone in the Dodge Motorsports family was saddened to hear the news of Bill France, Jr.’s passing. His leadership of NASCAR was fundamental in creating the dynamic motorsports industry we have today, and his contributions were innumerable. His vision, pragmatism and steady guidance will be missed, but his legacy will never be forgotten." -Mike Accavitti, Director, Dodge Brand Marketing and SRT Communications

"Because of my friendship with Dale (Earnhardt), I got to know Mr. France pretty good. I went fishing with him and had some fun times with him on the leisure side. One thing I remember on the professional side -- I think it was December of 1994 -- I called him and said I wanted to talk to him. He said come up to my room at the Waldorf. I went up to his room and I had this plan typed out on a piece of paper that said we need to consider the size of the driver and the weight of the driver. That the cars were getting too small. That would affect a young Richard Petty, who stood 6’2” and weighed 220 pounds, to have a chance to ra ce. I thought we needed to consider the weight of the driver because lighter is better and you can’t give that away. The next year, he came up to me in February and said that’s a pretty good idea and we’ll do that, but we have to much other stuff going on right now and we’ll think about that next year. I like to think of that as the day the cars quit shrinking and they began to consider room for a driver. I’m very sad that Mr. France is gone. I’m glad I got to know him while he was here because he was a special dude." -Michael Waltrip

"It is with the passing of one of NASCAR’s greatest icons that Sprint Nextel joins millions of fans in grieving today. Bill France Jr. orchestrated the transformation and fostered the growth of NASCAR to the heights it enjoys within the world of sports. He did so with passion and an uncanny business sense that put the interest of fans as utmost importance. That will forever be his legacy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Betty Jane, Brian, Lesa and the entire France and NASCAR families." -Dean Kessel, director of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series marketing for Sprint Nextel

"Like his father before him, Bill France Jr. was a pioneer and will be remembered for so many contributions while growing stock car racing into a national pastime during NASCAR's modern era. We offer our condolences to his wife, Betty Jane, his children, Brian and Lesa, the rest of the family and all who mourn his loss." -George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports President

"We are deeply saddened by Bill France’s passing. When you look at the sport of NASCAR racing and think about the people that have truly made a difference Bill France comes to mind first. He, along with his dad, had a vision of what it would take to make this sport the most popular form of auto racing in the United States and even the world – against many odds a lot of times. Even though Bill had not been directly involved in the day-to-day operations for quite a while, and he felt comfortable with what he had put in place for that to happen, he was still a voice to be heard for Lesa and Brian and everyone within the NASCAR community and he will be deeply missed." -Dale Jarrett

"Having known Bill Jr. since his teenage years, when he was assigned to beach control during NASCAR's early Speedweeks at Daytona, I have always been impressed with his integrity and his sincere dedication to upholding the basic principles that were established by his father, Bill France Sr. His inherited leadership has been highly responsible for the dynamic growth that NASCAR has achieved as the unchallenged leader in motorsports. And his special combination of wit and wisdom will be missed by those of us who were fortunate in knowing him, as we extend our condolences to the members of the France family." -NHRA Founder Wally Parks

"Bill did a tremendous job of implementing the lessons learned from his father and managing NASCAR and its growth during his era. His father taught him this business from the ground up and Bill had respect for our sport's history and a strong desire to continue to move it forward, which he did. His leadership will be missed. My sincere condolences go out to Betty Jane, Lisa, Brian, Jim and the rest of the France family." -O. Bruton Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Speedway Motorsports Inc.

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