France: NASCAR gets more input on decisions "than you could ever dream of"

Welcome to the next installment Motorsport.com’s series of stories based on an exclusive interview with NASCAR Chairman Brian France.

France: NASCAR gets more input on decisions "than you could ever dream of"
Brian France is the American CEO and Chairman of NASCAR
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Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing and Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO
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NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France
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NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France
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NASCAR Chairman Brian France is familiar with the criticism – some by drivers – that he isn’t as personally engaged in the sport as his father or grandfather before him but he insists he’s “comfortable” with the approach that he has.

“We have a very clear system to manage the sport – we have a very disciplined system – and it’s totally changed from 10 to 20 years ago when things were done from the back of a hauler and all this other stuff,” France told Motorsport.com.

“We have councils and more input then you could ever dream of that have been a really great thing – a drivers’ council; the car manufacturers have a voice; the track operators have a voice. Sometimes certain people will tell you they like the old ways when you sort of walked by, gave a suggestion, and it appeared in what we we’re doing two weeks later.

“We’re not in that situation any more for lots of reasons. I’m comfortable with the people we have and the approach that we have.”

Being "down in the trenches"

Earlier this season three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart publically criticized France for not being at the track more and “down there in the trenches.”

“I want to see him being more active than just showing up and patting the sponsors on the back and going up in the suite,” Stewart said in an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

When France is away from the track, his days typically involve meeting with representatives of corporations from across the country or even the world to discuss potential partnerships, or future technology, or ideas to utilize with the racing.

It was from these discussions, NASCAR officials said, that ideas like the Fan & Media Engagement Center, which measures a variety of media, including digital, print, television, radio, video and social; and the Air Titans, which have helped speed up the track drying process; have become reality.

In late April at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, France personally attended a drivers’ council meeting for the first time. Generally, NASCAR’s representatives on the drivers’ council are chief marketing officer, Steve Phelps, and Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer.

Some of the council members – including reigning Cup champion Kyle Busch – publically thanked France afterwards for making the appearance.

Asked if he considered the meeting productive, France said, “I think so. It’s kind of funny because I get maligned a little bit on this topic – is he engaged?

“Anybody that works with me realizes that I love the debate, the bantering over the policy – the things that matter as we’re moving things forward. I’ve always liked it. Even when we disagree, I like the spirited discussions with the drivers.”

France said he remains open to making further appearances if they help the process but he remains committed to giving those who work for him the freedom to do their jobs.

“I’m going to do those things (like the drivers’ council) when I think I can make an impact or when I think it’s necessary,” France said. “We also have very talented people like the Steve O’Donnells of the world, who are really running the day-to-day operations.

“They have to have a certain amount of authority and a certain amount of discretion in terms of how they want to manage things. I’ll plug in exactly when I need to but we need to let our talented people do their thing.”

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