Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Families of NASCAR

There are many families who have been in NASCAR for a long time. There are two families, however, that stand out in it's history as having been influential in the sport.

The Frances and the Pettys are two families that have been a part of racing for several generations. They have played very different roles within the sport but have both helped it become what it is today.

"Big Bill" France, Sr. formed NASCAR in 1948. He ran a gas station, raced cars on the side, and dreamt of making racing a true sport with rules, regulations, and a governing body. Bill, Sr. successfully ran the nation's largest stock car association until he handed over the reigns to his son, Bill France, Jr., in 1972.

Bill, Jr. made the North American Stock Car Association into a national pastime with sound business decisions and a little luck. Brian France, third generation, took over the helm in 2003 and the sport has grown by leaps and bounds since then.

Brian has made some major changes, the Chase for the Cup being the most daring change, but all of the changes have served only to increase racing's popularity and widen its fan base. And the sport's popularity doesn't only extend to watching the races. People are buying NASCAR collectibles, NASCAR diecast, and NASCAR merchandise like never before.

The Petty dynasty began with Lee Petty who raced in the very first race ever organized by Bill France, Sr. It was actually his son, Richard "The King" Petty, who has made the Petty family well known to the public.

Richard Petty impresses fans with his gentle manner and his devotion to his family. Richard's son Kyle has proven himself on the track and is now the CEO of Petty Enterprises.

The careers and lives of Lee, Richard, and Kyle inspired Kyle's son Adam to follow in their footsteps. Adam Petty was a promising up and coming driver but in 2000, during a practice run, his car crashed into a wall and he was killed. Adam's legacy lives on through the charitable foundations created by his family in his memory.

The Pettys are loyal to NASCAR. Not only has it provided the Pettys with financial success but careers that they love and are proud of.

There are many more families who have impacted racing in their own ways. The France's and the Petty's longstanding presence in the sport has lent constancy and strength throughout the years. We hope these two families are around for generations to come.

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