NASCAR: Betty Jane France passes away
Betty Jane France (right) with children Lesa France Kennedy and Brian France (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Betty Jane France, affectionately referred to as the “First Lady of NASCAR,” passed away Aug. 29, 2016, at the age of 78. France was the Executive Vice President and Assistant Treaurer of NASCAR, the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian Frances and International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy, widow former NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr., and grandmother of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy.
“Last night, the NASCAR family lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend and the light that guided the sport’s charitable arm,” a statement released by NASCAR from Brian France read. “My mother taught us incredible values, that of love, patience, compassion and joy. She embraced life every day, and nothing fueled her passion more than children. Her unmatched efforts in building The NASCAR Foundation improved the lives of millions of children throughout this country, and because of that, her legacy will live forever.
“My father leaned on my mother throughout his life, relying on her wisdom and calming demeanor to help grow the sport of NASCAR. She was there every step of the way. When we lost my father, her positive presence remained, as she used her immense skill to grow NASCAR’s heart and soul, The NASCAR Foundation.
“Our family thanks you for all of your thoughts, prayers and well wishes. My mother was a special woman and an impressive person, and she will be dearly missed.”
Betty Jane France was a philanthropist, focusing those efforts, primarily, on children’s healthcare. She was instrumental in the established of the “Speediatrics” children’s units at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, Fla., and at Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla. In 2003. She received the Halifax Medical Center Foundation Humanitarian Award.
She became the initial chairwoman of The NASCAR Foundation in 2004. In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, presented annually by The NASCAR Foundation, was created in her honor.
In 2008, France was named an honorary co-chairperson for the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma in Winston-Salem, N.C.