How ISC chief Lesa France Kennedy, son Ben got over two tragedies in three weeks

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Although it’s been nearly eight years, International Speedway Corporation CEO and NASCAR Vice Chairperson Lesa France Kennedy still hasn’t gotten over 2007, “the toughest year” of her life.

In the span of three weeks, she lost her father, former NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr., and her husband, Dr. Bruce Kennedy.

The elder France died from longtime health issues, while Kennedy’s husband was killed in the crash of a small plane not far from the couple’s central Florida home.

But her work and her son, Ben, who is now racing on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, helped pull France Kennedy through the two tragedies.

France Kennedy and her son are the subject of a special feature Sunday at 9 am ET by Michelle Miller on CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood.

“I think, really, that first year, the most special moments I had were when (Ben) and I would learn something new together,” Kennedy tells Miller in the excerpt. “And we would look back and laugh and say, ‘Well, your dad knew how to start the boat, and I don’t. So you know, get the manual out.’

“And there were just maybe some things like that that would help bring back the memory and we’d have a lighthearted moment about it. But those were some of the special times that we had.”

France recalls the two tragedies as if they were yesterday.

“Even though it was expected, (it was) not easy,” she said of her father’s death. “Then a month later, unexpected, my husband died in a plane crash.

“It was a beautiful day and we were going on a trip later that day. I told him not to be late, and we laughed. … It didn’t work out that way.”

Click here to view a preview of the show.

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