Bill France, Sr.

William " Bill" Henry Getty France senior ( born September 26, 1909 in Washington, DC; † June 7, 1992 ), also known as Big Bill, was co-founder, chairman and president of NASCAR, the most important association of touring car racing in the United States of America.


France was the son of Emma Graham, an immigrant from Northern Ireland, and William Henry France in Washington, DC born. Even here he learned of the speed records at Daytona Beach Road Course in Daytona Beach, before he and his family moved due to the global economic crisis to Daytona Beach in 1935. At this time, he had less than 100 U.S. dollars. Once there, he opened an auto repair shop.


On March 8, 1936, the first touring car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course, the local hero Sig organized Haug Dahl. It was overshadowed by a scandal involving a controversial rating and brought the city a large financial loss. France, who took part in this race, it finished fifth.

Haug Dahl spoke with both France and spoke with the Daytona Beach Elks Club to conduct a further event in the following year 1937. This was indeed more successful than the previous one, but still a loss. Haug Dahl organized then no more races.

Instead, France took over the organization of the course and held two races in 1938. In July Danny Murphy won against France. In the second race on Labor Day won France before Lloyd Moody and Pig Ridings.

In the years 1939 and 1940 three races took place. At the races in 1940 France was in March Fourth, in July first and September sixth.

The plans for the race in 1942 were interrupted by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In the years following the Second World War France worked at the Daytona shipyards. Most races rested during this time. After the war, they were resumed in 1946.

NASCAR founder

France knew about the difficulties of the organizers. Not infrequently drivers were cheated by unscrupulous operators out of their money, which simply disappeared before payment. So he started on 14 December 1947, the Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotal in Daytona Beach initial discussions with other organizers. They ended in the formation of NASCAR on February 21, 1948. Previously be Occoneechee Speedway was already in 1947 been completed.

In 1953, France recognized that a permanent circuit is required to accommodate the large crowd of spectators can that appeared to the races among others in Daytona. The hotels along the beach were fully booked every time. So he suggested on 4 April 1953 to build a new Super Speedway, the Daytona International Speedway. Work on this new 2.5 -mile oval race track began in 1956. Should be the venue for the opening race of the NASCAR, the Daytona 500 was first held in 1959 and since then every year the opening race of the season. Another track that was built by France, is opened in 1969, the Talladega Super Speedway.

As co-founder of NASCAR, he was for many years its president and CEO. With the onset of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as the title sponsor of the series in 1970, it was renamed to " Grand National " in " Winston Cup". R. J. Reynolds junior convinced France to abandon all races on non-solid surfaces as well as race with a distance of less than 100 miles from 1972. This step is considered as the definition of the modern era of NASCAR. Shortly afterwards he handed over control of NASCAR to his son Bill France Jr., but kept an office at the headquarters until the late 1980s.

In 1982 he founded the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, into which he was even included as one of the first riders on 25 July 1990.


  • Induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Inclusion in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1990.
  • Member of the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in Darlington
  • Inclusion in the Daytona Beach Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in 1992.