Brian France arrested, indefinitely takes leave of absence

by Justin Nguyen

Brian France, NASCAR’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, has stepped down from his positions indefinitely, hours after he was arrested for DWI and possession of a controlled substance. Jim France, Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President of NASCAR and a longtime name in the sports car racing world, will take over both roles.

On Monday, news surfaced of Brian France’s arrest in Sag Harbor, New York on Sunday night for driving with the influence and possessing oxycodone. In the Sag Harbor Police Department’s police report, it noted France was spotted running a stop sign in a 2017 Lexus. At a traffic stop, he was pulled over and arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He was jailed overnight and was arraigned Monday morning before being released.

“I apologize to our fans, our industry, and my family for the impact of my actions last night,” France stated in a release. “Effective immediately, I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from my position to focus on my personal affairs.”

In an official statement from NASCAR: “Brian France has taken an indefinite leave of absence from NASCAR as chairman and chief executive officer. Effective immediately, NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France has assumed the role of interim chairman and chief executive officer.”

Jim France, Brian’s uncle and the son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., served numerous executive roles for International Speedway Corporation (ISC). In 1999, he founded the Grand-Am Road Racing sports car series; thirteen years later, he oversaw its merger with the Rolex Sports Car Series to form what is now known as the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. France is also a board member on the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS), the American liaison of the FIA. On the stock car side, France was a key figure in NASCAR’s acquisition of the ARCA Racing Series in early 2018.

Many figures in the NASCAR industry voiced their frustrations with the arrest. Xfinity Series driver Tommy Joe Martins described it as “[o]ne of the most embarrassing days in the history [of] NASCAR,” while Darren Rovell alluded to the France family’s plans to potentially sell NASCAR, saying France’s arrest “probably cost his family couple hundred million. Makes it more important to sell sooner rather than later, take what they can get now.”

The weekend was an eventful one for NASCAR as the Monster Energy Cup and Xfinity Series went to Watkins Glen International. On Saturday, Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott announced his intention to return to the sport for the first time since 2012 at Road America. On Sunday, Bill’s son Chase Elliott scored his first career Cup victory. However, while both stories have provided a positive boost in NASCAR’s favor, they have been overshadowed by the news of France’s arrest.

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