NASCAR Mourns Betty Jane France Passing - Drivers Reflect On Her Impact
Betty Jane France, a philanthropist in support of children's health causes, passed away Monday evening. France is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy. She was 87 years old.
The wife of the late NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr., Betty Jane served as executive vice president and assistant treasurer of NASCAR and chairperson of the NASCAR Foundation. She devoted much of her life to philanthropic interests, particularly the health and well-being of children.
Lesa France Kennedy reflected on her mother's passing and her role with NASCAR, philanthropic passion to help the community, and dedication to child health initiatives.
“We are saddened by the passing of my mother and inspiration Betty Jane France," said Kennedy. "She played a significant role in NASCAR’s history, leading the charge to elevate the experience of our sport for the fans who love it, and her philanthropic efforts will forever remain a part of our sport.
“My mother launched the NASCAR Foundation as a steadfast champion of children’s healthcare and in 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award was created in her honor. In her hometown of Daytona Beach, she served as a community leader touching countless lives with her charitable efforts. She was very touched and proud last year when Halifax Health Medical Center unveiled a statue just outside the hospital tower which also bears our family’s name.
Several drivers and NASCAR commentators offered their condolences on Twitter, including Dale Earnhardt Jr, who is sidelined with concussion like symptoms and has been since New Hampshire.
Betty Jane France was an awesome lady. Always charitable. A true advisor over the years to Bill Jr. during major growth in our sport. RIP— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) August 30, 2016
Other drivers commenting on how Betty Jane France affected their lives include Ryan Newman, The Busch Brothers, Darrell Waltrip and 6 time champion Jimmie Johnson
Sad to hear of the passing of Betty Jane France. Keeping the France/Kennedy family in our thoughts and prayers.— Ryan Newman (@RyanJNewman) August 30, 2016
A wife, Mom, friend, a mentor, a leader, a Proverbs 31 woman, Betty Jane France a woman of great integrity, my prayers are with the family.— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) August 30, 2016
Saddened to hear of Betty Jane France's passing. Thoughts and prayers with the entire France family.— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) August 30, 2016
"Last night, the NASCAR family lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend and the light that guided the sport's charitable arm," said Brian France. "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.