The Frontstretch: NASCAR Reactions To The Death Of Bill France by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Tuesday June 5, 2007

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NASCAR Reactions To The Death Of Bill France

Beth Lunkenheimer · Tuesday June 5, 2007


As news spread around Dover International Speedway lamenting the loss of Bill France, Jr., an outpouring of sympathy and support quickly emanated from the drivers and teams he had helped to reach national prominence. With the sport rocked with arguably its biggest loss since the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr., there were plenty of memories, tears, and insights to be shared about a man whose legacy will live on for decades to come.

The following are some of the reactions from the NASCAR faithful following the death of Bill France, Jr.:

“It’s a profound loss for the sport. His Dad really started NASCAR, but he’s the one probably most responsible for the state of our sport today. He’s one of those giants – very intimidating to me. I didn’t know him well, but my Dad was close with him and I know that made my Dad very very proud to get close to someone that not a lot of others did.” Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

“It is hard to work with the Dad and then work with the son. I know that is hard. The fact that they have been able to do that so successfully for such a long time and be as strong as they are today, is really and truly an accomplishment. Really and truly, we trust NASCAR. We may not agree with them about everything, but we trust them to make good decisions. He made good decisions. My family is indebted to him; our sport is indebted to him. I think you will see a lot of that the next few weeks, appreciation for everything he did and an outpouring toward him and his family.” J.D. Gibbs

“He meant everything to it (the sport) and to me. I can remember going to his father’s funeral and at that time, seeing Bill Junior just come along and just take a hold of this sport and take it to the next level. He was a voice and personality that took this sport to another level. I’m really saddened to hear that news. I knew he wasn’t doing well. I wish I could have had a chance to see him and talk to him before he went. Certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire France family. He’s going to be missed. It’s going to be hard to be a part of this sport without him.” Jeff Gordon

"Our thoughts go out to the France Family today. Obviously it's a tough day in respect to that. I didn't know Bill France Jr. real well, but obviously he helped build the sport. Without him and his dad the sport wouldn't be what it is and it's going to change with him gone. They've got a big, strong family and they'll stand by his memory and help NASCAR keep growing as well. My condolences go out to the France Family.” Ryan Newman

"We are deeply saddened by Bill France's passing. When you look at the sport of NASCAR racing and think about the people that have truly made a difference, Bill France comes to mind first. He, along with his dad, had a vision of what it would take to make this sport the most popular form of auto racing in the United States and even the world - against many odds a lot of times. Even though Bill had not been directly involved in the day-to-day operations for quite awhile, and he felt comfortable with what he had put in place for that to happen, he was still a voice to be heard for Lesa and Brian and everyone within the NASCAR community and he will be deeply missed." Dale Jarrett

“Because of my friendship with Dale (Earnhardt), I got to know Mr. France pretty good. I went fishing with him and had some fun times with him on the leisure side. One thing I remember on the professional side — I think it was December of 1994 — I called him and said I wanted to talk to him. He said come up to my room at the Waldorf. I went up to his room and I had this plan typed out on a piece of paper that said we need to consider the size of the driver and the weight of the driver. That the cars were getting too small…that would affect a young Richard Petty, who stood 6’2” and weighed 220 pounds, to have a chance to race. I thought we needed to consider the weight of the driver because lighter is better and you can’t give that away. The next year, he came up to me in February and said that’s a pretty good idea and we’ll do that, but we have so much other stuff going on right now and we’ll think about that next year. I like to think of that as the day the cars quit shrinking and they began to consider room for a driver. I’m very sad that Mr. France is gone. I’m glad I got to know him while he was here, because he was a special dude.” Michael Waltrip

“Bill France Jr. was not only a leader in our sport, but he was also a very good friend. Not only did he teach me a lot about our sport but he taught me numerous lessons about life. Over the last several years, NASCAR has grown to an unprecedented level of popularity. None of that would have been possible without the vision and leadership Mr. France provided. My thoughts and prayers go out to Betty Jane, Brian, Lesa and the entire France family.” Richard Childress

“It’s a huge loss. Bill France Jr. is someone that I will never forget. I will always remember him for his strong leadership and his tremendous vision. I was around when he took over leadership from his father…there is no arguing that he carried this sport to a new level.” Mark Martin

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06/05/2007 07:55 PM

Touching tributes. But what burns my ass is seeing the Flag at Dover at Half-Staff. Only the President can call for the Flag to be dropped. NA$CAR, drop your own flag not our National Colors. Veterans will understand.

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