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Brian France applauds close racing, but always looking to improve
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France spoke on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about how the sport is always looking to improve competition so tight battles and close finishes can continue to play out on track.
France : Collaboration with drivers, council 'better than ever'
NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France has gone from Talladega, Alabama, to Los Angeles over the past several days, taking in and sending out a wide view of the sport in the process. France kicked off a Drivers Council meeting at Talladega on Friday, then served on a prestigious speaking panel for sports business leaders in L.A. on Monday The initial stop was well-received by both the drivers and France himself -- the NASCAR Chairman & CEO kicked off the meeting with remarks, and listened to driver discussion on a variety of topics. France also met privately for a one-on-one discussion with driver Tony Stewart , a three-time premier series champion. "The Drivers Council meeting in Talladega was very productive," France told NASCAR.com. "Tony and I also met one-on-one, and it was great to hear his thoughts. I think the key is to build trust with the drivers, and we structured the Council in a way that lets them express their views in a free-flowing manner. "We want them to know that we are listening, trying to understand their issues and that it is important for us to get it right. I think the level of collaboration between us is better than ever." The drivers agree. "It was great Brian came (to the meeting)," Dale Earnhardt Jr . told reporters at Talladega. " … It was just a good, positive meeting, a lot of good things moving in a good direction. ... I think what we are doing is pretty amazing." Stewart, Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson were all on the Drivers Council when it was formed last year, and remain members in 2016. Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch are three new members this year, bringing the total council to nine drivers. The sanctioning body strategically shaped criteria for the Drivers Council so a variety of drivers are included. Four spots are automatically filled by performance the previous season -- the top-finishing driver for Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford, plus the top-finishing driver with less than three seasons of experience. The remaining slots are filled by driver votes from the following categories: Two drivers from the top 10 in points from the previous season; one driver from positions 11-20 in points from the previous season; one driver from positions 21-30 in points the previous season; and one driver with the most votes who doesn't fit into the previous categories. A team can have a maximum of two drivers on the Drivers Council. "The meeting on Friday was terrific," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell reiterated on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "It was scheduled for an hour and a half and almost went three hours. Brian was there and talked about where we see the sport going, answering a number of questions that the drivers had, and then we had some great exchanges about what we think of the current rules package, some things we may look at in the future. All in all, my perspective, … but I really believe in the process and think it's paying huge benefits for the sport and ultimately the race fans." The Drivers Council is the latest group to be formed within the industry, joining the NASCAR OEM Council, Tracks Council and the Teams Council. The intent of council creation is for better collaboration across the sport, with the manufacturers and teams -- and now, the drivers -- having an avenue for discussion and a process to elevate those discussions to industry leadership. At the Milken Conference days later, France was on a five-person panel for a session called "Stewards of the Game: The Business Leaders Behind Major Sports" that also included former NBA Commissioner David Stern and New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft. The NASCAR Chairman & CEO answered broad-ranging questions on his family legacy, the successful Daytona Rising project and the importance of digital and social media to reach and engage new fans.
Daytona wins Facility of the Year at Sports Business Awards
RELATED: Daytona through the years Daytona International Speedway won Facility of the Year at the 2016 SportsBusiness Journal Sports Business Awards, held Wednesday night at the Marriott Marquis in New York City's Time Square. The win came as a result of its $400-million Daytona Rising project. The world's first motorsports stadium was unveiled at the 2016 Daytona 500 as the sell-out crowd witnessed Denny Hamlin win by the closest margin of victory in the race's history. Daytona International Speedway beat out the San Jose Earthquakes' Avaya Stadium, Kansas State's Bill Snyder Stadium, Texas A&M's Kyle Field and the San Diego Padres' Petco Park for the accolade. "The incredible transformation of our flagship facility would not have been possible without the hard work and support of our employees, fans, partners, and the entire NASCAR industry," said International Speedway Corporation Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy. "I'm so proud of Joie Chitwood and the Daytona International Speedway and ISC team. They truly earned this prestigious award." It is beautiful! pic.twitter.com/jcfFJ0rnic — Lesa Kennedy (@LesaISC) May 19, 2016 The evening saw many members of the NASCAR industry nominated, including: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France (Executive of the Year), NASCAR (League of the Year), Darlington's Bojangles' Southern 500 (Event of the Year) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (Social Media in Sports) Daytona Rising, which broke ground in 2013, produced five expanded and redesigned fan entrances called "injectors," three new concourse levels for fans that span the frontstretch of the track, 40 new escalators, 17 elevators and 60 new trackside suites. The project also created 11 football field-sized social "neighborhoods" filled with video screens, widened 101,500 stadium seats, doubled the number of restrooms and tripled concessions and merchandise points of sale to deliver a more convenient fan experience. The impact of the upgraded facility transcends sports. Daytona Rising's economic impact provides 6,300 new jobs, $300 million in labor income and more than $85 million in new tax revenue. A plethora of companies have agreed to naming rights deals with Daytona International Speedway , including Toyota, Florida Hospital, Chevrolet, Sunoco and Axalta. Remarkably, the facility remained open for business throughout the almost three-year period it took to rebuild its nearly mile-long fronstretch. During this time, the facility held two NASCAR events, the 2016 Rolex 24, 2015 Bike Week and hundreds of civic and social gatherings. Launched in 2008 by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, the Sports Business Awards recognize leaders and visionaries who personify excellence in the business of sports. The nominees were judged by their achievements from March 1, 2015 through Feb. 29, 2016.
Brian France , league commissioners lead social responsibility in sports conversation
Bottom row, from left: Adam Silver, commissioner of NBA; Robert D. Manfred, Jr., commissioner of MLB; Kathy Milthorpe, chief financial officer, LPGA; Don Garber, commissioner of MLS; and Brian France , chairman and CEO of NASCAR. Top row, from left: Craig Harnett, chief financial officer for NHL; Dennis Di Lorenzo, Harvey J. Stedman dean of the NYU School of Professional Studies; Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL; and Arthur R. Miller, associate dean of the NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business. " Photo courtesy of Mark McQueen/NYU • • • NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France and the Commissioners of the NBA, NFL, MLB and MLS, led a group from across nine major professional sports leagues Monday at New York University to collaborate on social responsibility in sports. The industry summit was hosted by the NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business. The intent of Monday's summit was to bring forth league leaders to exchange ideas in an open forum, and also to explain each sport's own commitment to social responsibility. "We are privileged that nine sports organizations, including NASCAR, have participated in this important discussion on the Social Responsibility of Sports at the NYUSPS Tisch Institute summit," said Tony Ponturo, director of industry relations, NYUSPS Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business. "We thank Brian France , Chairman and CEO, for his participation, which underlines his leadership in and his commitment to this ongoing dialogue." France , who was joined by Commissioners Roger Goodell (NFL), Rob D. Manfred Jr. (MLB), Don Garber (MLS) and Adam Silver (NBA), discussed NASCAR's wide range of social responsibility programs such as the NASCAR Foundation and NASCAR Drive for Diversity operated by Rev Racing. Monday's event is the latest example of how the leagues are joining forces when it comes to social responsibility. In 2015, NASCAR joined the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and others to partner with RISE, a non-profit started by Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross to promote diversity and equality through sports. France was named to the Board of Directors. The nine leagues represented Monday at NYU include: LPGA, MLB, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA and WNBA. "We are grateful for the leagues' open cooperation and encouragement throughout this initial research phase," said Arthur R. Miller, associate dean of the NYUSPS Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business. "With the information we have acquired, we hope to help them move forward in a constructive way in using Social Responsibility of Sports as a game changer for the industry."
NASCAR nominated for league, executive of the year, more awards
The NASCAR industry is nominated in multiple categories at this year's Sports Business Awards, taking place Wednesday, May 18, at the Marriott Marquis in New York City's Time Square. Among the nominations, NASCAR is up for League of the Year and NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is up for Executive of the Year. Launched in 2008 by SportsBusiness Journal, the awards recognize leaders who personify excellence in the business of sports. The nominees are judged by their respective accomplishments from March 1, 2015-Feb. 29, 2016. Among the other NASCAR nominees up for hardware on Wednesday are Daytona International Speedway (Facility of the Year), Darlington's Bojangles' Southern 500 (Event of the Year) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (Social Media in Sports). France spoke to Bloomberg TV about the nominations. &amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp; NASCAR's 2015 campaign included the activation of 10-year partnerships with FOX, NBC, IMG and Comcast; a record number of fans on digital and social media; and continued efforts to widen its appeal through youth and diversity, highlighted by Mexico's Daniel Suárez, a NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate who captured the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. But, the cornerstone reasoning behind the nomination for both NASCAR and France may lie in the landmark Charter agreement the sanctioning body reached with 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at the start of the 2016 season. After 18 months of negotiation, NASCAR and its race teams announced the nine-year agreement in early February, ensuring a future of increased stability and the ability to build long-term enterprise value for the first time in the sport's history. Also nominated for Sports League of the Year are the American Athletic Conference, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and the PGA Tour. Stan Kroenke (Kroenke Sports and Entertainment owner), Joe Lacob (Golden State Warriors owner), Rob Manfred (MLB commissioner) and Mark Parker (Nike CEO) join France as nominees in the Sports Executive of the Year category. Daytona International Speedway earned the Sports Facility of the Year nomination after unveiling Daytona Rising, the $400 million renovation project that transformed DIS into the world's first motorsports stadium. The project attracted a sellout crowd for the 2016 Daytona 500 , won by Denny Hamlin in the closest finish in the race's history. Joining Daytona in the facility category is Avaya Stadium (home of the MLS' San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Snyder Family Stadium (home of Kansas State football), Kyle Field (home of Texas A&M University football) and Petco Park (home of MLB's San Diego Padres). Earnhardt was late to the social media game, but proved to be a natural at the medium. Sprinkling in humor and a behind-the-curtain look at his sport, Earnhardt regularly engages with his nearly 1.5 million followers. In the 'Best in Sports Social Media' category, Earnhardt is pitted against the Chicago Blackhawks, Clemson University, the National Basketball Association and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. Darlington Raceway hosted the most unique event on the 2015 NASCAR schedule with its Bojangles' Southern 500 . Billed as a 'throwback weekend,' Darlington celebrated its storied history with a 1970s-themed event that included 32 retro paint schemes, 14 NASCAR Hall of Famers and a variety of food and entertainment from the bygone era. Joining the Southern 500 in the 'Sports Event of the Year' category is the 2015 Belmont Stakes, the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match and Super Bowl 50. Also nominated are NASCAR Official Partners Toyota and XFINITY (Sports Sponsor of the Year). FedEx and Anheuser-Busch In Bev, which both sponsor NASCAR race teams, are also nominated in the Sports Sponsor of the Year category. FOX Sports and NBC Sports Group, both of which broadcast NASCAR races, are each nominated in the 'Best in Sports Media' category. FOX Sports continues its broadcast of the first portion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season during this Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (7 p.m. ET on FS1).
Three NASCAR names make 'Time Magazine' list
It's only appropriate that "Time Magazine's" recent list of the "Top 10 Most Influential Car People in Sports" would include three individuals who have made their respective marks in the NASCAR ranks. Brian France , chairman and CEO of the sanctioning body, was No. 5 on the list because he "puts cars in front of more eyeballs than just about anyone else in sports." Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas followed at No. 6 for joining forces with Tony Stewart to make his organization a "top-tier Sprint Cup contender." Also worth mentioning is the over-achieving Haas F1 team, which has already scored championship points in its debut season in Formula One racing. Dale Earnhardt Jr . weighs in at No. 7 because "one of every five marketing dollars spent on NASCAR is spent on Dale Earnhardt Jr . One visit to the Fanatics Trackside Superstore at any NASCAR track is all you need to confirm that assertion. F1 champion Lewis Hamilton topped the list.
France : New manufacturer in NASCAR a possibility
RELATED: Learn all about the 2016 drivers and their manufacturers With the newness of the current NASCAR racing season yet to wear off, Brian France -- the sanctioning body's chairman and CEO -- discussed the possibilities of more new touches coming to stock-car racing's future. The possibility of new manufacturers, new tracks and a new premier-series entitlement sponsor were just some of the topics France discussed in an impromptu phone interview Friday afternoon with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. SiriusXM host Dave Moody said callers often asked whether they could anticipate the return of Dodge or another manufacturer to join the three existing automakers -- Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota -- that currently compete in the sport.
France : 'There’s interest' from other manufacturers
Brian France talks on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there is possible interest from other manufacturers to be a part of NASCAR.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France , wife Amy honored at Angel Ball
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.
Brian France on NASCAR's framework, 2016 schedule
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."