NASCAR CEO Takes Leave of Absence After DWI Arrest

Ruben Hill
August 10, 2018

Police said at the time he was pulled over France struggled to keep his balance during field sobriety tests, his eyes were red and glassy, and tests showed his blood-alcohol content was almost twice New York's legal limit.

He said in a statement on Monday that effective immediately he would be taking a leave of absence from his position "to focus on my personal affairs".

Jim France's involvement in the sport allows him to make a smooth transition in serving as NASCAR interim chairman and CEO, NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs said Tuesday.

Police say the 56-year-old France smelled of booze and slurred his words during a traffic stop in Sag Harbor on Sunday.

He was reportedly stopped by police after he blew through a stop sign in Sag Harbor, his 2017 Lexus, at around 7.30pm.

Jim France, 73, is the younger brother of Bill France, Jr. and has worked for the company throughout his life.

Brian France replaced his father, Bill France Jr., who ran NASCAR for 31 years before turning leadership over to his son. NASCAR is privately owned and was founded by Bill France 1947. The legal limit for driving in NY is 0.08.

Brian France introduced a playoff system, overhauled the design of the series' cars and pushed for diversity within the circuit's predominantly white, male ranks.

In recent years, he's been dealing with plunging attendance and TV ratings and departing sponsors, attributing the downturn to the challenge of connecting with a new, younger generation of fans. He defended France to The Associated Press on Tuesday as "the most loyal friend anyone can have" and said the entire industry shoulders blame for NASCAR's slide. IMSA's origins also trace back to the France family. That's what you need is that racing perspective of just making sure we stick with the roots of what made NASCAR racing what it is, and he's been around it and know how that went. There's nothing to report on that. However, witnesses at the time said he had been driving at a "very reckless speed". "I think that's the most important thing right now is this sport needs to be connected in a lot of different directions, but they need to all come together and go in the same direction instead of having so many different ideas".

At the time, France told the cops that he got momentarily distracted and "bumped" into the tree, but an eyewitness revealed that he was stumbling when he stepped out of the auto to assess the damage.

France also initiated NASCAR's substance-abuse policy, which offers a "Road to Recovery" to any member that fails a random test. He had a court appearance Monday morning and was released on his own recognizance.

Her statement was not attached to the police report, and the Daytona Beach police chief later investigated whether France was given special treatment by authorities.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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