LAS VEGAS — NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France was presented Wednesday with the 2018 NMPA Myers Brothers Award for outstanding contributions to the sport of stock-car racing.
France, 74, has served on the board of the International Speedway Corporation for more than four decades, leading the transformation of a number of tracks, including the $400 million re-imagining of Daytona International Speedway as a motorsports showplace. He is the son of NASCAR founder William H.G. “Big Bill” France.
The announcement came Wednesday at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas as part of Champion’s Week festivities. The events will be capped by Thursday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards, where Joey Logano and his team will be celebrated as the 2018 champs.
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“Holy smokes,” France said after taking the stage. He then recounted his memories of spending the summers of his youth watching both Billy and Bobby Myers compete at historic Bowman Gray Stadium.
“To receive this honor in their name is very special,” France said. “I’ve had the opportunity the last part of this season to spend a lot of time again in the garage area and pits of our racing series, and I’d like to pass on one quick observation. From the 1950s in the pits at Bowman Gray Stadium to the 2018 pits in the NASCAR Monster Energy Series, that NASCAR spirit, a competitive spirit of the drivers and teams, is alive and well, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
France was presented with the NASCAR Hall of Fame Landmark Award in 2018. That honor was introduced in 2015 to recognize individuals who have made “significant contributions to the growth and esteem of NASCAR.”
France has been instrumental in leading two key motorsports mergers during his tenure. In 2012, he brought Grand-Am Road Racing together with the American Le Mans Series under the IMSA banner. In April, he helped to announce NASCAR’s acquisition of the ARCA stock-car circuit.
France assumed the role of NASCAR Chairman and CEO in August. He replaced Brian France, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the company.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps lauded France’s contributions and his involvement with the stock-car racing industry during a season-ending address Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Jim is a man who has lived NASCAR his entire life,” Phelps said. “He is a racer through and through. He raced himself. He loves racing. He loves NASCAR. The top of that pyramid, the top of the structure is incredibly strong.”
The Myers Brothers Awards also recognized newly crowned Cup champion Joey Logano, who received the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award and the Goodyear gold car – a replica of his championship-winning No. 22 Ford – for his efforts in securing his first title.
Logano couldn’t take his eyes of the gold trophy, which gleamed from the stage in the theater.
“That is the coolest trophy in all of sports,” Logano said, who preceded his crew chief, Todd Gordon, to the dais.
“What a great year to be a part of Team Penske,” Gordon said. “(Team owner) Roger (Penske) was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Will Power won our 17th Indianapolis 500, Brad Keselowski won our first Brickyard 400, Ryan Blaney won the inaugural Charlotte Roval race, Scott McLaughlin won the Australia Supercars championship, and we checked off the last current Cup track that Penkse hadn’t won at with a win and championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.”
Talladega Superspeedway president Grant Lynch was the recipient of the 2018 Buddy Shuman Award, which recognizes individuals who have played vital roles in ensuring the continued growth and popularity of NASCAR racing.
“Man, y’all can keep a secret,” said Lynch in an emotional speech. “I never thought I would get where I did, and you don’t get there without people who put their faith behind you.”
First-year Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron took Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but he was eager to put his status as a neophyte behind him.
“No more rookie meetings, and that’s a freedom I haven’t had in my short NASCAR career so far,” Byron said. “With that being said, I’m ready to have a little fun tomorrow when I turn 21 and take those rookie stripes off.”
Contributing: Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service