John R. Cooper, a former president of Daytona International Speedway, passed away Wednesday at 84, International Speedway Corporation announced.
Cooper served as president of Daytona from 1987 -1990. Previously, he had served as president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, beginning in 1979 and until he resigned in 1982.
Prior to that, Cooper was involved in the national sports programs for the Coca-Cola Company for two years.
Cooper also served as vice president of corporate development for ISC until July 1994 while also working on ISC’s Board of Directors from 1987 until April 2003, before being elected director emeritus.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France released a statement on Cooper’s passing.
“On behalf of NASCAR and the entire France family, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the friends and family of John Cooper. John served in many motorsports roles throughout his life, including president of two of the most iconic race tracks in the world – Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But beyond any of his exemplary career stops, there was one role that was personally even more important – dear friend. John was a cherished confidant of both my father and my grandfather. My family has relied on his counsel – both personally and professionally speaking – countless times. We are all saddened by his passing, and will miss John dearly.”
Statement from Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of ISC
“The impact that John Cooper had on the International Speedway Corporation, Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR and the motorsports industry overall cannot be overstated. In addition to being a legendary voice of executive leadership, he also was a longtime friend and confidant to the France Family, starting with his close relationship to my grandfather Bill France Sr.
“John was one of only two people who have served as president at both Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and that represents only a portion of his career and achievements.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with John’s family and friends. We have lost a cherished link to our industry’s past.”
Statement from IMS president Doug Boles
“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been blessed with strong leadership since Carl Fisher founded the track in 1909. John Cooper was one of those iconic leaders. As the IMS president in the early ’80s, John helped lead a new thought process in track promotions, while balancing the importance of history to IMS and the Indianapolis 500. His many experiences in racing and business made him one of the most knowledgeable and thoughtful resources in our sport, and I enjoyed and appreciated the time he would take to offer advice and counsel related to the operations of a race track. John always maintained his love of racing, especially the Indianapolis 500, and is respected throughout the industry. Here at IMS, his influence is still felt today and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”