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Moms and NASCAR

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Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2018 10:03 pm

Let’s all thank our Mom’s this weekend 

For a long time NASCAR has been steeped in tradition when it comes to holidays on the calendar. Whether it is the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend, the Bojangles’ Southern 500 in Darlington on Labor Day weekend or even Daytona’s July race, which typically coincides with our nation’s birthday, there are certain races which are innately associated with a particular holiday.

I’ve said this previously, but our sport not only honors those traditions to its fullest, but it also pays proper homage, and makes certain that the race weekend becomes even more of an event than what it already is.

While not necessarily a holiday per se, Mother’s Day has been woven into the fabric of NASCAR and sports in general. This Sunday we will honor all of the mothers who have worked so hard to give us everything in life we have been able to attain. While this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Kansas will be run on Saturday night, you can be assured that many of the drivers will be honoring their mothers and spouses who have sacrificed over the years and allowed these drivers to reach the pinnacle of their sport.

This is especially true in NASCAR where a season encompasses more than 40 weeks after taking into account non-points races and off-weekends. For quite some time, the mothers involved in our sport have made these sacrifices unmatched elsewhere. While the 40-plus week season might appear like a long time, all you need to do is go back to the early years of NASCAR and you might gain a different perspective. Beginning in 1955 all the way through 1971, the number of races on the Cup schedule in any given year varied, ranging from 44 to a high of 62 (1964).

While the ritual of families traveling together to the various events is something that has been a part of NASCAR lore and is somewhat unique to our sport, that type of schedule lends for an extremely nomadic lifestyle.

As a result, the mothers of our sport have played critical roles, not only in the successes of the drivers who have thrived, but also in making the sport itself much better off the track. In our sport the list of influential mothers is so long that I’d certainly be missing someone if I tried to name them all, but I at least wanted to share the good that has been done by some of the higher profile mothers in our industry at different junctures.

It undoubtedly starts at the top with the late Betty Jane France, the long-time “First Lady” of NASCAR who was quite possibly one of the most influential mothers in any sport. She was more than just the husband of the late Bill France Jr., NASCAR’s CEO from 1972-2003. She was the impetus behind the plethora of philanthropy in which NASCAR was involved, and in 2004 it led to the creation of the NASCAR Foundation, which since that time has gone great lengths to benefit children. Her own children, Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy, have traveled similar paths as their father, and now lead NASCAR and 

and International Speedway Corporation, respectively. Today, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award annually honors a dedicated NASCAR fan who has positively impacted the lives of children through volunteerism.

The late Lynda Petty, wife of “The King” – Richard Petty – for more than 55 years, was pivotal to the success of her husband during his Hall of Fame career, which spanned 35 years (1958-92). She was recognized for her countless contributions during the many road trips their family embarked on, including some of those seasons which consisted of 50 some-odd races. Not only was she known to feed their four children in the infield over the course of those long weekends, but she also made sure that the pit crew which helped Richard earn 200 trips to Victory Lane during his career was also well-nourished. She and Richard had four children, including son, Kyle, who followed in his father’s footsteps and won eight Cup races in his 30-year career behind the wheel (1979-2008). In 2005, Lynda was bestowed with the honor of grand marshal for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, a race which that year was held on Mother’s Day.

Currently, many spouses of NASCAR drivers are distinctly involved in the sport, both on the track and off of it. Kyle Busch’s wife, Samantha, is certainly one of the more visible ones, and not just because she is usually right by Kyle’s side during his frequent trips to Victory Lane. Samantha’s work and involvement

with the Bundle of Joy Fund – a subsidiary of the Kyle Busch Foundation – has been extraordinary. Along with Kyle, not only are they the proud parents of three–year old son, Brexton, but through this fund they provide monetary awards for in-need families struggling with infertility. These funds assist with the costs associated with infertility treatment through the REACH Clinic of Charlotte.

There are many other instances in the world of racing, but more importantly I know we have our own examples that hit closer to home for all of us. Although I never raced, I knew for a long time I wanted to work in the motorsports industry, something I have been able to do for more than 20 years now. Part of my success in getting into the industry soon after college and then being fortunate enough to experience the longevity that I have, can be traced back to my mother and the many sacrifices she made leading up to my career, just as my wife has done with our family during my career.

So while we will not be racing on Sunday, let’s take that time to make sure we properly recognize all of the mothers out there who make our sport and our lives as special as what they are.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, May 12 at 8:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Friday, May 11 at 8:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

**XFINITY Series is off this weekend and will return to action on May 26**

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

May 12 Performance Driving Group

May 13

Miami Exotic Auto Racing

May 19-20 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

May 26-27 Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)

June 1

Fast Lane Friday

2018 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 16 Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 17 Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 18 Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship Race

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