Last night, while NASCAR Chairman Brian France and his wife Amy France were being honored for their contributions to pediatric cancer at the Angel Ball, the sport's first family could not help but think about a special day four months earlier. The Frances, through their Luke and Meadow Foundation, took child cancer survivors behind-the-scenes at Pocono Raceway in June. The courageous kids got to visit the garages before the race and hang out with their favorite drivers -- including six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson . As special as it must have been for those kids, it was also deeply moving for NASCAR's third generation chairman and his wife, who dedicated the race to cancer survivors. "As important as sports may sometimes seem, days like the one we had in June puts things in perspective and reminds us of what is truly important," Brian France said. "We were extremely humbled by last night's honor, but that is only icing on the cake compared to the difference we can make in the lives of children." Amy France was also touched when discussing the children's experience at the track. "As a parent, I was reminded that any of those children could have been my child or your child," Amy France said. "These are the moments that motivate me to contribute to cancer research. My hope is that my children, Luke and Meadow, will one day be inspired to be part of something beyond their own self-interests to make a real impactful change." The Frances, alongside supermodel and television host Heidi Klum, were honored by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation at the annual Angel Ball for their contributions to pediatric cancer research. The crowd was treated to musical performances from One Republic, Patti LaBelle and Billy Porter and many celebrities were on-hand, including Nick Cannon. Four-time NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon gave a heartfelt introduction for Brian and Amy at the event. "I have known Brian since the start of my career which goes back nearly 25 years. Over that time he has become a close friend and someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for," Gordon said. "As the third generation Chairman of NASCAR, he is a bold, collaborative and visionary leader." NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar, International Speedway Corporation Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy, The NASCAR Foundation Chairwoman Betty Jane France and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy were in attendance. The Frances founded the Luke and Meadow Foundation, named after their 4-year old twins, in 2011 to raise awareness about charities they are passionate about. They have since supported, given their time and made multimillion dollar donations to a wide-range of causes including: Stand Up For Heroes in support of 9-11 families, Autism Speaks, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research, Providence Day School and many others. "There are so many causes that need attention, but as parents, we are particularly passionate about addressing the critical needs of children," said Amy France . "At the end of the day, we just hope to be a part of something bigger than our own family, and we believe that -- in partnership with others -- we can make a real impact." With last night's brief pit stop in the rearview mirror, Brian France returns his focus to the remainder of the season. This weekend, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the final race of the Contender Round on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Following the race, four drivers will be eliminated and eight will remain in contention to be the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France and wife Amy were honored at the Angel Ball on Monday night.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France and his wife Amy France were honored for their contributions to pediatric cancer at the Angel Ball in New York City.
Lorene King, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation, has done a Q&A with each of the four finalists for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. They will appear on NASCAR.com this week. RELATED: Cast your vote today As another year comes swiftly to a close, we should all take time for reflection. As a charitable organization, we are thankful for those of you whose volunteer service impacts the lives of others and our communities. Volunteerism remains strong with one in four adults volunteering in our country. The NASCAR Foundation has established the encouragement and support of volunteerism as one of our major efforts. Through the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award that honors our founder, Betty Jane France , we annually receive and review hundreds of nominees from which four finalists are selected. The stories of these four outstanding, everyday champions and the charities they serve are told through special appearances at NASCAR races, our marketing efforts and those of our supporters and sponsors. We are blessed this year that Nationwide has joined us as Presenting Sponsor of the Award and is helping us spread the word about each of our finalists and their work for children. This week, we are giving you a more in-depth look at each of this year's finalists. These outstanding volunteers will touch your heart, so please stay tuned as each of these champions for children share their passion. And you can help -- vote for your favorite every day, share these stories through social media, and tune in to the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas at 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 4 (NBCSN), to see the winner of this year's award. Q: What does it mean to you to be among the finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide this year? A: It means the world. Not only is my whole family NASCAR fans, this award will truly help put us on the map and be a game changer for the Stephanie Decker Foundation. The cost of running a camp for amputee kids can be quite high, between scholarships, travel/food for kids, programming, supplies and staffing. Q: How will being selected as a finalist further your cause? A: This award provides a large platform to bring awareness to children with missing limbs to an audience that we wouldn’t have reached before. Not only is it an opportunity to obtain sponsorships and form partnerships with other like-minded foundations, but it truly helps to bring awareness to the parents of limb different children, letting them know our organization exists to help. Q: Why did you choose to work with this organization and/or cause? A: When I lost my legs and began to get media attention about my survival, I realized that I was given a true opportunity to help make a difference. After experiencing our first camp and seeing the impact on the children we were helping, I knew this was what my family and I were meant to do. We haven’t looked back since. Our foundation helps provide sport opportunities, and sports are huge in our family. Being able to provide kids with confidence, skill, and teach metaphors for life experiences is priceless. Q: What inspires you and your personal commitment to your cause? A: When the kids first come into camp they are shy, but then they just blossom and come out of their shell. The truth is, those kids personally give us so much more in return than we can give them. It's about the kids. They are our "why." Q: What has been the most rewarding moment during your work with your charity so far? A: There was an amazing girl named Ella who never played sports (didn't think she could) and was so quiet. Through her experiences at camp, she has gained so much confidence. Now she does jujitsu and loves to talk -- and her mother said our camp changed her life. Instead of being a victim in other people’s eyes, she is now an advocate for herself and is taking on the world. It is priceless. Q: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you, your charity and your work? A: We are so honored to even be considered. It's important that people know we are an organization that needs some awareness -- by voting for our foundation, it's a true opportunity to make a difference in children's lives.
Lorene King, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation, has done a Q&A with each of the four finalists for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. They will appear on NASCAR.com this week. RELATED: Cast your vote today As another year comes swiftly to a close, we should all take time for reflection. As a charitable organization, we are thankful for those of you whose volunteer service impacts the lives of others and our communities. Volunteerism remains strong with one in four adults volunteering in our country. The NASCAR Foundation has established the encouragement and support of volunteerism as one of our major efforts. Through the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award that honors our founder, Betty Jane France , we annually receive and review hundreds of nominees from which four finalists are selected. The stories of these four outstanding, everyday champions and the charities they serve are told through special appearances at NASCAR races, our marketing efforts and those of our supporters and sponsors. We are blessed this year that Nationwide has joined us as Presenting Sponsor of the Award and is helping us spread the word about each of our finalists and their work for children. This week, we are giving you a more in-depth look at each of this year's finalists. These outstanding volunteers will touch your heart, so please stay tuned as each of these champions for children share their passion. And you can help -- vote for your favorite every day, share these stories through social media, and tune in to the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas at 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 4 (NBCSN), to see the winner of this year's award. Q: What does it mean to you to be among the finalists for the NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award sponsored by Nationwide? A: To be chosen as a finalist and to be recognized for all I have done and given; to do something, helps me emotionally. Though this nomination will not bring my daughter Erin back, it comforts me greatly to be recognized for doing something, so more survive sepsis! Q: How will being selected as a finalist further your cause? A: Just being chosen as a finalist and competing for this year’s award requires educating people about sepsis. Less than 50 percent of Americans have heard the word, "sepsi," yet it is the No. 3 cause of death in the United States and the No. 1 cause of death in most hospitals. Another factor furthering our cause is the exposure from The NASCAR Foundation; by highlighting this as one finalist's cause, millions will be introduced to the word, "sepsis," thus creating needed public awareness. Sepsis kills more children than childhood cancer. No one even knows the total number of people, including children who survive, but who lose limbs or have disabilities sometimes for the rest of their lives. Q: Why did you choose to work with this organization or for this cause? A: I did not choose to work for this cause, it chose me! When we lost Erin to sepsis -- something I had never heard of -- I looked around for answers and support. There were none. There were no advocacy groups, no institutions dealing with this and even most nurses and other healthcare providers did not have any education on sepsis. SO, I did not choose this organization. I started it. Q: What inspires you and your personal commitment to this cause? A: What inspires me has changed since I became involved. We lost Erin in April of 2002 from sepsis. I am now inspired by my Erin, plus all the unnecessary deaths and disabilities in the U.S. and worldwide. I am actually on a task force of the Global Sepsis Alliance that is working with the World Health Organization. Much to do, many to save! Q: What is the most rewarding moment during your work with your charity so far? A: The most rewarding moment is when I get confirmation and appreciation that I did something. Also, when I help someone survive physically or when I can help survivors heal is very rewarding. It is very rewarding and gratifying to know you are helping change the world regarding what may be the No. 1 cause of death on this planet!
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Thursday that meetings about a potential franchise system for participation in its upper series have already taken place, sparking ongoing talks with its team owners about the direction of stock car racing competition. France made the remarks during an afternoon appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "Tradin' Paint" program, telling hosts Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers that improving the current framework was crucial to the overall health of the sport. "Any time we can improve the structure for our team owners, that's a good thing," France told SiriusXM. "If we can improve their business model, we can improve their overall structure, then what's going to happen is new owners will be more inclined to look at wanting to participate in NASCAR; that's a good thing. The other good thing is, the level of competition goes up because the more healthy the team owners are, the better we're going to be. "We're working alongside of all the team owners to see what's possible, and we're going to have to go down the road and keep working at it. That's very important to us." France also discussed the soon-to-be-released schedules for all three NASCAR national series, saying that teams and fans alike should not expect a dramatic overhaul to the 2016 racing calendar. "I can tell you that the schedule is not going to change materially at all," France said. "There are things in the sanction agreements with the tracks that are unrelated to the dates that have to be worked out, and that's really what we're doing now. That's taking a little longer than normal. The schedule will look very similar." With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Myers pressed France for an accelerated release of the 2016 schedules on behalf of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who has expressed his wishes for a prompt announcement so that he might better plan his wedding to Amy Reimann. "I understand," said France , biting on the joke. "That does take precedence, so we'll make sure to put those dates right in front of him so he knows when they are." France also took time to assess the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the Challenger Round, the opening three-round series of the postseason. In doing so, France lauded last weekend's clutch victory by Kevin Harvick at Dover International Speedway that kept his repeat title hopes intact. "What you really are seeing is, this is the era of big moments and big performances," France said. "Being consistent and steady, that's important but that's getting pushed to the wayside. It's whoever can step up their performance."
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and Amy France attend 'A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to Cure'
On the eve of Veterans Day weekend, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his wife Amy helped raise more than $6 million on Wednesday at "Stand Up for Heroes" in New York City in support of post-9/11 injured service members, veterans and their families through the Bob Woodruff Foundation. It was the latest in a long line of examples of NASCAR going beyond the call for America's troops. The Frances and another party bid and won a special auction with items and experiences from rock 'n roll legend Bruce Springsteen. The package includes a signed guitar and an hour guitar lesson from Springsteen, who also will provide a homemade lasagna dinner and a motorcycle ride in Springsteen's side car with "The Boss" driving. This year's event surpassed expectations, besting last year's record $5 million total. Springsteen helped raise $600,000 alone with the Frances and the other party committing $300,000 apiece to the Stand Up for Heroes Fund. NASCAR has a long track record of supporting the U.S. military, dating back to its roots. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. began a tradition that continues to this day of recognizing Medal of Honor winners before the July 4th race at Daytona International Speedway . In June, NASCAR marked the fifth anniversary of its Troops to the Track presented by Bank of America initiative. Thousands of troops from local military installations across the country have been treated to customized VIP experiences which include garage tours, driver meet-and-greets and recognition during the drivers' meeting, among many other special-access activities. "NASCAR: An American Salute" is an annual tribute to the men and women who fight for our freedom. Beginning Memorial Day weekend in Charlotte through Fourth of July weekend in Daytona, teams, sponsors, tracks, the sanctioning body and its stakeholders sport special red, white and blue paint schemes and host military members and their families throughout the summer. On this Veterans Day weekend as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Phoenix International Raceway , the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will run the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 as veterans, active military members and their families will be honored throughout the weekend. Like every weekend on the NASCAR schedule, the patriotic pre-race ceremony will feature an honor guard, a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and a military flyover. "It's in our DNA," NASCAR President Mike Helton said, "to help military families understand how grateful we are and to encourage our fans to do the same thing; it's evolved with the sport. Bill France Jr. and certainly Bill ( France ) Sr. were adamant about NASCAR being a voice to remind everybody that there were men and women who were making sacrifices so that we had the opportunity to do the things that we enjoy. "And a lot of it had to do with the fact that ( France Sr.) created NASCAR right after World War II ... he had a very direct purpose behind it. "But that culture was passed on and handed down; as NASCAR grew, that responsibility grew with it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Brian and Amy France as well as other celebrities talk about attending the Michael J. Fox Foundation event in New York City.
RELATED: NASCAR, RISE team up with eye on equality HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France held his annual year-ending question-and-answer session with the NASCAR media on Friday, sharing his thoughts on the Matt Kenseth suspension, the high quality of competition in 2015 and his expectations for what's to come. France began the discussion by reiterating the remarkable season-ending run for the sport, which will conclude in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 with Kevin Harvick defending his 2014 title against impending retiree, four-time champ Jeff Gordon and new championship challengers Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr . While France was candid and sincere when answering questions from the assembled national and local media, he was prepared for questions about NASCAR's handling of the two-race Matt Kenseth suspension for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville, Virginia. It was the first question from the floor. Asked whether he should have perhaps spoken to Logano and Kenseth to discuss the escalated situation, France said that at the time, he didn't think it necessary. Kenseth was suspended for two races after NASCAR ruled he intentionally crashed Logano out in the Martinsville race. "Obviously, if I thought that would have helped we would have definitely sat down," France said. He said he met with Kenseth and team owner Joe Gibbs to talk earlier in the week and make sure everyone was on the same level with Kenseth returning to competition this week. "We were very disappointed, as you know, with what happened in Martinsville, we reacted to that," France said. "What we were coming down here to a championship weekend, and I wanted to make sure that that matter was behind us with Matt, with Joe Gibbs and so on. I'm assured that it is. We had a good conversation about what had happened and what the thinking was or whatever you want to call Matt's actions, and we talked about that. And it was a good conversation. "Those kind of conversations happen with us more frequently than not, so that's not a surprising thing. I felt good coming out of those meetings." France was also asked where "the line" was in accessing whether a penalty should come down. He smiled broadly and told the room he was "glad" someone asked. "Do you know how many drivers have come to see ( Sprint Cup Series Managing Director) Richard Buck in the last two weeks, three weeks, four weeks? Zero,'' France said. "Zero drivers have asked us for a clarification on the so-called line. And the reason that they don't ask is they know. And they know that circumstances late in a race, blocking, although I'm not a fan of blocking, that's part of racing. Blocking, contact, the short end of some of those exchanges that happen, are all part of it and do not look to NASCAR to deal with that, they are part of racing. "So the line is ... if somebody is just intentionally banzaiing into some situation with the sole purpose of taking somebody out, we'll deal with that. We dealt with that in Martinsville, as a matter of fact. We'll deal with that at all times." RELATED: Riding the fine 'line' to a championship Again, France said he has nothing but good feelings about the new elimination-style Chase format that was introduced last year and will feature three new title-contenders among the accomplished group of four and give Harvick an opportunity to be the first driver since Jimmie Johnson to win Cup titles in consecutive years. "I am excited we've got four drivers, including Jeff Gordon that are storybook endings in their own right," France said. "The level of competition the Chase format has delivered has exceeded everything we have envisioned. "The stakes are higher on any given weekend ... and you're seeing the drivers and teams react to that." France spoke about the possibility, however, that the 2015 Chase could end in a controversial way -- hard-racing and high contact. In acknowledging the possibility existed, he reminded the room that NASCAR has developed a good reputation for the tussle form of competitiveness, too. "Gentlemen drivers exist," France said. "I don't see one in those four guys remaining. And if there's contact and they're going for position ... it's not always that somebody just turns somebody around. "I don't know what will happen. But contact late in the race, that's just part of it and we got to have an understanding of that and not be so surprised when that happens in a NASCAR race." Certainly the new format has created an even higher level of excitement. Asked if NASCAR is considering implementing the Chase format in the Camping World Truck and XFINITY series, France was non-committal, yet not opposed. "It has been successful," France said. "Our partners in XFINITY and Camping World would like for us to explore what's possible to have a, their own version of it. And we're going to look at that. We're going to look at that in the off-season. We have looked at that before, haven't quite found the perfect thing for each one of those divisions. But we'll work at it. It's worth looking at." France did concede there is a chance of rain on all three days of scheduled championship-crowning racing at Homestead, but he assured the room and the readers that there are a "record number" of Air Titan dryers on site in case. "We are going to go through the weekend as we traditionally would, looking at all of our options trying to get all of the laps in a given race on a certain race day,'' France said. "That's been our policy and philosophy. We go further and try harder, I think, than any other motor sport division to accomplish that because we want it to be settled on track."
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France talks about how NASCAR judges what is hard racing and what is over the line on the track.