Betty Jane France, the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy, passed away Monday evening.
The Winston-Salem native was a philanthropist who supported children’s health causes and widow of the late NASCAR Chairman and CEO William C. France. She was the executive vice president and assistant treasurer of NASCAR and the chairwoman emeritus of the NASCAR Foundation prior to her passing.
“Last night, the NASCAR family lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend and the light that guided the sport’s charitable arm,” Brian France said. “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.”
Back in 2011, a Nationwide humanitarian award was named after Betty Jane France. She also helped create the “Speediatrics” children’s care unit at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach and Homestead Hospital.
While most of her career will be remembered for her impact on NASCAR, her humanitarian awards from the Halifax Medical Center Foundation and serving as an honorary co-chairperson for the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma proves her reach was so much farther than the sport itself.
“On behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, I would like to send our most sincere condolences to Lesa, Brian and the entire France family on the passing of Betty Jane France,” NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said. “Affectionately and appropriately known as ‘The First Lady of NASCAR,’ Betty Jane touched countless lives within the NASCAR industry and many, many more through her extensive philanthropic work. Her impact on the NASCAR community is immeasurable, working mostly quietly behind the scenes in a wide variety of capacities.
“Words cannot adequately describe her huge heart and her passion for helping those less fortunate and facing serious challenges. … Betty Jane will be dearly missed, but her incredible legacy of helping others will live on forever.”