In a week that is all about reflecting back on the season that was, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France is eagerly looking ahead to the future.
In his annual speech at Thursday’s annual Myers Brothers Awards luncheon in Las Vegas, France first congratulated new Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, as well as retiring four-time champ Jeff Gordon.
France then switched gears to talk about the changes that are on the horizon. Those changes include a new low downforce aerodynamic package, a new Vice President of Competition (Scott Miller, named to the post Wednesday) and the potential of a new charter system that will potentially give team owners a greater stake in equity and stability of their respective team’s value.
“I’ve been at this a long time,” France said. “I’ve never been more excited about what’s going on in our industry than right now. I say that because of all of the innovative things that are happening.
“You know, innovation or ideas can come from anywhere. But it’s the people in this room that execute those ideas – our track operators, our race officials, our teams, our team personnel – they’ve embraced what we’re doing in a way that is unprecedented in motorsports.”
France alluded to changes in the sport that have been positives, from on-track to the overall championship playoff format.
“I’m talking about little things, like the Air Titan system, which helps us get our events completed in a timely way, that are little things that make a big impact,” France said. “The big things like our format change that many, many people around the world, in motorsports around the world, no one has this format. Many people thought it couldn’t be done. They didn’t think you could have an elimination‑style format in auto racing. Didn’t make sense.
“They also didn’t think that the level of competition could rise, that our teams could step up to the moment and do things they never thought possible.
“But you know what, they have. And all of you in this room have embraced that, our tracks, everybody, our marketing partners, have understood the importance of raising the level of competition to our fans. They love it.”
As for the future, France said he remains keenly optimistic that the sport will continue to thrive and grow, citing examples such as the $400 million Daytona Rising project that will be completed in time for the 2016 Daytona 500.
“That gives me great assurance we’re going to have a good future,” France said. “I want us to have an exceptional future. I know now with the industry working so closely on big things and small things that we’re going to have an exceptional future.
“That future will start in February of next year, and you’ll see the completion of Daytona Rising, the huge commitment the tracks across the industry that I believe will follow suit in various forms to reinvest, make our fan experience better than it’s ever been.”