Betty Jane France

The NASCAR Foundation

Voting for Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award opens

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The four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s Ninth Annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award were announced Friday.

In conjunction, a nearly month-long fan vote to determine the award winner is also now open, it was announced during a press conference at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.

The award, which honors the Foundation’s late founder and chairwoman, is given to a “NASCAR fan who has done exceptional volunteer work on behalf of children in their community,” according to the media release.

Fan voting runs through 5 p.m. ET on December 3.

Fans can learn more as well as vote at The nominee who earns the most fan votes will receive $100,000 that will be donated to the charity they represent. The other three finalists will receive $25,000 apiece for their respective charities.

The award winner will be revealed Dec. 5 during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Music City Center in Nashville.

Here are the four finalists:

* Bob Behounek of Berwyn, Illinois, a NASCAR fan for 56 years representing Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Behounek, an artist, has volunteered for 13 years, raising funds to help families of hospitalized children with housing needs during extended hospital stays.

* Angela Hamby of Locust, North Carolina, a 40-year NASCAR fan representing the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte. She has volunteered for 12 years as head nurse for Camp Horizon, which serves children with Down syndrome.

* Todd Smith of Perris, California, a NASCAR fan since 2007 (when he attended his first race at Auto Club Speedway) who represents Fuel for Success, a national organization founded by Smith. He has volunteered for 12 years, introducing at-risk students to NASCAR while fostering better relationships between students and police officers.

* Joe Vaughn of Woodruff, South Carolina, a NASCAR fan of 45 years representing Project HOPE Foundation of Greenville, South Carolina. Vaughn is the chairman of Project HOPE, which serves children with autism.

“Avid NASCAR fans; that’s the best way to begin when describing this year’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists,” said The NASCAR Foundation Chairman Mike Helton. “Each one represents what Betty Jane France stood for and what she wanted this award to be: a recognition of people who love our sport but also love the charities they are passionate about.

“These finalists are folks who root for their favorite drivers on race day but every day – 365 days a year – they’re out there rooting for the children in their community, working hard to better children’s lives. This year’s group of finalists is exceptional. Picking one to vote for will be tough for our fans.”

In the nearly one decade that has transpired since the award’s inception, The NASCAR Foundation “has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 children by providing nearly $1.5 million in contributions to charities represented by finalists for the award.

Overall, The NASCAR Foundation has cumulatively donated more than $34 million to reach more than one million children.

To learn more about The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award and the 2019 finalists, visit

NASCAR America: Four finalists for Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award announced

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Betty Jane France passed away last August.

But the wife of the late Bill France Jr. and mother of NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy left a legacy that will go on for decades to come.

France and the NASCAR Foundation established the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2011 to honor NASCAR fans that have made profound impacts upon their community through volunteerism.

The four finalists for the seventh annual Humanitarian Award were announced today.

They are:

  • Shannon Goldwater, Scottsdale, Ariz., founder of Feeding Matters, which specializes in pediatric feeding issues. Said Goldwater, “No children or family will have to suffer the way my children did for so many years.”
  • Julian Maha, Vestavia Hills, Ala., founder of KultureCity. Oldest son suffers from autism. Said Maha, “The mission is to rethink accessibility in order to create a world of acceptance and inclusion for individuals with unique abilities.”
  • Tammy Richardson, Las Vegas, Nev., volunteer for the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. Lost her daughter to cancer. Said Richardson, “Every kid in Nevada that comes to Camp Cartwheel, I get to meet. I started a store, I give away toys, I get to be happy, I get to make a difference in the life of a child.”
  • Chante Gonzalez Vido, Jamul, Calif., founded the Seany Foundation. Is a two-time cancer survivor. Said Vido, “The experience my counselors have given me, I was ready to give that to the next generation of campers.”

One of the four will receive $100,000 to further their efforts in their particular voluntary effort. The winner will be named Nov. 30 as part of the NASCAR Cup Awards weekend in Las Vegas.

Fans are encouraged to go to to view video vignettes of the four finalists and to cast a vote for which finalist they’d like to see win the award. Voting is open now and continues through Nov. 29.

Since the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2011, the NASCAR Foundation has donated more than $1 million to charities across the country.

NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, who stopped by Thursday’s show, spoke highly of the Foundation’s efforts.

“It’s appropriate it’s named after Betty Jane France,” Helton said. “She really took the first lady role of our sport serious and she guided our culture.

“As much as what we do on the racetrack, she was always behind the scenes making sure NASCAR and all the members of NASCAR, particularly the employees of NASCAR, were good community citizens. It’s appropriate to perpetuate her name in this sport. She was a great lady.”


Betty Jane France awarded prestigious Myers Brothers Award

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Betty Jane France posthumously received the Myers Brothers Award during the annual Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in Las Vegas.

France, who passed away in August, was recognized by National Motorsports Press Association, which votes on the award. The award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the sport.

International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy accepted the award on behalf of her mother.

Betty Jane France was honored for her leadership and accomplishments as the chairwoman of the NASCAR Foundation. The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award was created in 2011 in her honor. She also helped create the Speediatrics children’s care unit at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach as well as Homestead Hospital.

France also served as NASCAR executive vice president and assistant treasurer alongside her husband, Bill France Jr.

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NASCAR America: Mike Helton reflects on Betty Jane France’s impact as First Lady of NASCAR

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NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton discusses Betty Jane France’s impact on the sport and why she is known as the “First Lady” of it. She was the mother of NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France.

Services for Betty Jane France will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 1 at Seabreeze United Church of Christ in Daytona Beach, Fla., In lieu of flowers, the family ask that donations be made to The Nascar Foundation.


Betty Jane France, former First Lady of NASCAR, passes away


Betty Jane France, widow of former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr., and mother to NASCAR Chairman Brian France and International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy, died Monday. Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.

“Last night, the NASCAR family lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend and the light that guided the sport’s charitable arm,” said NASCAR Chairman Brian France in a statement Tuesday morning. “My mother taught us incredible values, that of love, patience, compassion and joy. She embraced life every day, and nothing fueled her passion more than children. Her unmatched efforts in building The NASCAR Foundation improved the lives of millions of children throughout this country. And because of that, her legacy will live forever.

“My father leaned on my mother throughout his life, relying on her wisdom and calming demeanor to help grow the sport of NASCAR. She was there, every step of the way. When we lost my father, her positive presence remained, as she used her immense skill to grow NASCAR’s heart and soul, The NASCAR Foundation.

“Our family thanks you for all of your thoughts, prayers and well wishes. My mother was a special woman, and an impressive person, and she will be dearly missed.”

Said Lesa France Kennedy in a statement Tuesday morning: “We are saddened by the passing of my mother and inspiration Betty Jane France. She played a significant role in NASCAR’s history, leading the charge to elevate the experience of our sport for the fans who love it, and her philanthropic efforts will forever remain a part of our sport.

“My mother launched the NASCAR Foundation as a steadfast champion of children’s healthcare and in 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award was created in her honor. In her hometown of Daytona Beach, she served as a community leader touching countless lives with her charitable efforts. She was very touched and proud last year when Halifax Health Medical Center unveiled a statue just outside the hospital tower which also bears our family’s name.

“Beyond her greatest community service, her starring role was that of mother to my brother Brian and me. She was an incredible role model, cherished friend, and someone who demonstrated limitless possibilities that helped so many people pursue their dreams.

“Her legacy will be treasured and she will forever be missed not only by her loving family and close friends, but by the many lives she touched along the way.”

The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presents $100,000 to the winner’s charity and $25,000 to each charity of the remaining three finalists. The award honors a NASCAR fan who embodies the ideals of community and charity that she had throughout her life.

She became chairman of the NASCAR Foundation in 2004 upon its inception. In 2008, she was named an honorary co-chairperson for the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, a projected led by team owner Richard Childress.

“They say behind every strong man is a very strong women,” said Richard Petty, co-owner, Richard Petty Motorsports in a statement Tuesday morning. “In this case, Betty Jane stood just as tall as Bill Jr. She did just as much as anyone to build the sport and help it grow. The Petty family sends our thoughts to Brian, Lesa and the entire France family at this time.”

The former Betty Jane Zachary, who was from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, married Bill France Jr. on Sept. 20, 1957. That came seven months after they met at a swimming pool when Bill France Jr. was looking for contestants for Miss Bowman Gray at the Winston-Salem track, according to the book “The Man Who Made NASCAR: Bill France Jr.’’

She gave birth to Lesa France Kennedy on May 24, 1961 and gave birth to Brian France on Aug. 2, 1962.

She was with the family before Daytona International Speedway was built. She recalled in the book “Big Bill: The Life and Times of NASCAR Founder Bill France Sr.’’ taking a trip around the track with him during the construction of it.

“I think I was the first person to ride around the track, along with Bill Sr. We were going fast, too,’’ she said in the book. “Way too fast, I suppose. It was cool, but it was also scary because you have to realize that this was before they had the track even finished. We were just riding around on the lime rock before they even put the asphalt down on top of it.

“I remember as we were riding around, Bill Sr. was saying, ‘This is really going to be something one day.’ Myself, I could not visualize how big the whole thing would be when it was finished. I also remember Bill Sr. telling me as we rode around the banking, ‘This is your future.’ I was thinking … right. But when it came to Bill France Sr., everything was always going to work. It was just going to work. That’s the way it was with him.’’

Services for Betty Jane France will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 1 at Seabreeze United Church of Christ in Daytona Beach, Fla., In lieu of flowers, the family ask that donations be made to The Nascar Foundation.