One of the biggest stories of the season has been the suspension of NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield. Before the Darlington race in May, Mayfield was suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy for testing positive for methamphetamines. Mayfield has denied the allegation and maintains that the test was a false positive due to a combination of Claritan and Adderall. In the meantime, NASCAR has spared no expense trumpeting their horn about the veracity of their drug policy and using their considerable media presence to besmirch Mayfield’s name along the way since he has chosen to dispute their findings. In the meantime, two of the family members of the sport’s reigning family the Frances, were arrested October 8th while street racing in Florida for possession of cocaine. While many different news outlets have reported the initial arrest, the NASCAR governing body has been all but mute on the subject, with the exception of announcing the suspension of one of the men from the Grand-Am series where he was a competitor.
JC France is the grandson of Bill France Sr., the son of Jim France who founded the Grand-Am series, and a competitor in that series. He stopped for speeding in a 2007 green Lamborghini. When he attempted to get out of his car he was unstable and had to use the car for support. He had a flushed face, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. He failed a field sobriety test and was searched. The search revealed a plastic bag with a white cake-like substance that was later proven to be cocaine. His half brother Russell Van Richmond was also found to have cocaine in his possession and was belligerent with police officers, maintaining that the fact that he was a France would ruin the officers’ careers.
Mayfield tested positive for a substance on a test that has been argued by experts to be incorrect. No one has been able to provide physical evidence of Mayfield taking or possessing the drug that he is accused of taking. The France boys had a controlled substance in their possession. Mayfield has vehemently denied his test result and has mortgaged everything to prove his innocence. Richmond’s only defense of his position was that he is a France and that position in society will make life miserable for those people who had the audacity to arrest him.
The question is, why is NASCAR not making a big deal about how they’re going to handle this situation? Shouldn’t they be parading these men in front of the media and making an example of them? Pointing out to everyone that, just because they are family members of the family that runs the sport, they violated the policy and are going to be treated as severely as any other driver who chooses to abuse a substance. Where are the press releases? Where are the press conferences to answer the questions about what is being done?
NASCAR is a family run business. Starting with Big Bill France, it was always made clear that it was his way or the highway. The same thing is true today. If people choose to do it some way other than the Frances want them to do it, they are welcome to do it elsewhere. Drivers are routinely reminded that there are thousands of other people that would give anything to be in their position. The drivers and crew members need the sport a lot more than the sport needs them. However, the sport needs to handle things on an even playing field for all people involved, not separate rules for family members.
It does not appear, at this time, that a trial date has been set for either of the gentlemen. Let’s all hope that, when the time comes for them to face the music, NASCAR puts as much effort into publicizing how it turns out as they have put into making Jeremy Mayfield look like a drug addict.
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