NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Lesa France Kennedy
May 23, 2010
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
THE MODERATOR: We welcome Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy.
Joined by Brian France, chairman and CEO, and his sister Lesa France Kennedy, who is NASCAR's vice chairwoman and executive vice president.
Lesa, ladies first. Your thoughts on today.
LESA FRANCE KENNEDY: Today was absolutely wonderful to see everyone come together and recognize what these five great men have done for the sport of NASCAR.
It will be one of the most special days for me personally in my memories.
BRIAN FRANCE: I know that we've talked so much and you've heard from other people that it's a celebration of the past and all the milestones. And it was. But I think today marked a little bit about the future, too, because of how, as your last -- as Richard and Rick and Darrel just said, how everybody came together in an amazing way today to mark a lot of accomplishments.
And I know our entire family is obviously very proud of our father and grandfather, but this was today very much about three other great champions and the whole sport getting the proper recognition for what's happened over the last six decades, as more than anything else.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Brian, at a lot of the press events either run by NASCAR or run by the teams, they're very carefully scripted and today was obviously very well organized. But there's a level of emotion in the room today that you almost never see at an event. Were you guys surprised by that. Did you expect it going in and what was your reaction?
BRIAN FRANCE: I really didn't. And Lesa and I talked about it. It was hard for us to go up and have our father inducted, even though we have a very simple assignment. And I thought you did see that, Tom, with a lot of the family members or friends. And the stories.
And it was like any other NASCAR event, in that everybody didn't worry about the commercial side of things. They worried about the achievements and the personalities of some very great people that have gotten this sport to where it is.
Q. Brian, you just mentioned that this is not only a testament to the past but also to the future. And a lot of it, a lot of the Hall and Hall of Fame induction today was about how people were visionaries for NASCAR, particularly your father and grandfather. I was curious to ask you, what is your vision of the future, and what would you like NASCAR to become, say, in the next 10 or 20 years?
LESA FRANCE KENNEDY: Well, for NASCAR in the next 10 or 20 years, I just want it to continue to grow based on the foundation that we have and the appreciation that I think NASCAR has always had for its fans, and I think that was laid out by everyone of the people that were inducted into the Hall of Fame today. But our task really is to keep up with the changing world and technology and all the other things that will impact our sport in the future.
BRIAN FRANCE: I made light when I went up there today that I had been fired more times than anybody had worked in NASCAR. Which is probably true. Which is a long way or short way of saying that you don't ever feel entitled, despite opportunities that are provided for you.
And Lesa just said it right: This is a big, big sport. There's a lot of obviously stakeholders that are all counting on this sport to deliver certain things, and our challenge is to evolve with that. Have the very best people that we can in the history helping us and don't forget the motto of my grandfather and father that everybody has to win.
And at some point, financially, and otherwise, it's got to be a level playing field and all those things. If we keep doing that, taking care of our fans, we'll be fine?
Q. Lesa and Brian, obviously both of you have literally grown up in this sport. It's been a part of your life from the very beginning. I was curious if you had a chance to go through the Hall almost as a fan with really time to look at some things. And when you went through it were there any things in the Hall that you had not seen before having been around this sport your whole life?
LESA FRANCE KENNEDY: I've had a chance to go through the Hall of Fame, and I definitely want to spend more time there so I can really experience it and all of it. But I will tell you the thing that really touched me the most is the statue of my father. And it is personal.
But him on the director's chair, just like he would always be, outside of that NASCAR hauler, the likeness of it is amazing. And it was just my dad.
BRIAN FRANCE: I waited -- obviously I had some opportunities prior to the opening, I guess it was 10 days ago or so. And I passed on those because I wanted to walk in with the wonderment of it all with our fans on opening day, which I did.
But as a result I haven't had the time to look at it closely and I whizzed through it on a busy day. But I'm very much looking forward to taking my time. There's so many interactive pieces of the Hall of Fame that tell the story.
One of the days here shortly I'll get time to do it justice and take a careful look at it?
Q. My question is, since the economy is down right now, do you think maybe in the next 10, 20 years we'll have NASCAR overseas, maybe in Australia, in order to bring in more sponsorships and keep the NASCAR going strong internationally, bringing in new fans and stuff, away from the states, make it big?
BRIAN FRANCE: You know, our events are televised internationally. We've done exhibition events in Australia, as a matter of fact. And certainly in Japan, other places.
And I think since auto racing is so popular in different places in the world we will have some opportunities as I've said before over time and the right situation to build the NASCAR style of racing to some level. Where that goes, which territories first, needless to say we have a very packed domestic schedule. So it will have to be done with sort of organic growth wherever that might be.
But there's a lot of fans all over the world. And this is a unique style of racing where they're trading paint and doing what they do better than anybody in the world. So we'll look forward to extending that hopefully over time.
Q. Brian, when the Hall of Fame was being talked about five years ago, is this what you envisioned the induction ceremony would be like, or is there anything about today's ceremony that really struck you?
BRIAN FRANCE: You know, I think everybody said it, and I'll say it again. It was an emotional day. I didn't anticipate that. I do a lot of things that are within the sport and they're all great. This was different today.
And I think Rick Hendrick said it best. This was about everybody in this sport at one time or another that has played such an important role. And obviously the focus was on the five inductees but it was a lot more than that for us. I can tell you. It really was a big celebration that I didn't expect?
Q. When you see how involved your father and your grandfather were, on a week-to-week basis in the garage, do you kind of see -- do you kind of want to be in that role more, or do you kind of -- what can you learn from what they taught you on a week-to-week basis, dealing with the competitors, the media, the fans, sponsors, things like that?
LESA FRANCE KENNEDY: Well, I think you're exactly right. And some of the stories that you heard today did speak to my grandfather and father always being in touch. I think as the sport continues to grow, that will be one of the challenges and one of the things that Brian and I will try to continue to focus on.
But we always -- our entire organization has worked hard to be in touch with the fans. And that's what we're going to focus on in the future.
BRIAN FRANCE: You know what, though, one thing about that -- and Lesa's right -- we'll always try to do that. But we'll have to do it our way, because we're wired a certain way. And we'll take the values of everybody that we can and try to carry them forward. But in the end we'll try to do that in the best way that we know how to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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