Home » Sports Cars

Woody: France Drug Problems A Sign of Times

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 9 2009
Grand-Am driver and member of famous racing family J.C. France, right. (Photo courtesy of the Grand-Am Series)

Grand-Am driver and member of famous racing family J.C. France, right. (Photo courtesy of the Grand-Am Series)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer

I’m sure a lot of NASCAR-haters are grinning and gloating over the arrest of J.C. France on drug charges after a traffic stop in Daytona Beach.

How shameful.

I doubt that there’s a family anywhere that hasn’t been touched by the poison of drugs, and just because someone doesn’t care for NASCAR is no reason to find glee over yet another family’s pain.

The only reason why last Thursday’s drug arrest made news outside of Daytona is because of the name: J.C. France is the son of Jim France, a NASCAR board member, the grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and the cousin of NASCAR Chairman Brian France.

Also charged was J.C. France’s half-brother, Russell Van Richmond.

Somebody named “Richmond” getting busted wouldn’t create a blip on the national news cycle. But somebody named “France” sends shock waves through the sport.

I know some will claim there’s some sort of weird karma at work. For months NASCAR has actively been prosecuting – some say persecuting – former driver/team owner Jeremy Mayfield on suspicion of drug use.

Brian France has been quoted repeatedly about the dangers of drug use and the need for zero-tolerance – and now his own cousin is busted.

Cynics will say that the chickens have come home to roost – in the France family’s backyard.

That’s a silly premise. Brian France is simply doing his job by policing the sport and trying to make sure that no impaired drivers get near a racetrack. I’ve questioned aspects of the investigation but I’ve never thought the campaign against Mayfield was some sort of personal vendetta.

Its absurd to hold Brian France accountable for the behavior of his cousin. The same goes for J.C.’s father. Trust me – as a fellow dad – Jim France can’t prevent his grown son from going out and doing something stupid.

It’s reported that Richmond tried to throw the family name around in an effort to intimidate the cops. That was stupid and arrogant – a desperate ploy by someone who was scared stiff.

But again, the family can’t be blamed. If Brian or Jim France had made threats against the police in an attempt to get special treatment, that would be a different matter. But there’s nothing to indicate that that happened.

To try to somehow taint NASCAR’s ruling family with J.C. France’s drug charges is absurd. Is it embarrassing for the family? Certainly. Is it hurtful and painful? No doubt.

But if you take away the famous name, what went down in Daytona the other night is –unfortunately – commonplace throughout the country.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 9 2009


  • Drug Treatment says:

    This just goes to show you that drugs have permeated every sport in the country. And don’t forget that there is a long history of substance abuse related issues in NASCAR…after all, the sport was founded by bootleggers driving strong illegal moonshine through the back roads of the American south. Although, you have to say that the thought of someone driving under the influence at 200 MPH is downright scary. Let’s hope France gets the drug treatment help he needs.

  • LXbuilder says:

    I can’t believe what I read from a “journalist”, defending this 43 year old child. His problem is every bit HIS problem, not mine or yours or societity’s. It should be dealt with in the same manor as Jeremy Mayfield, but fat chance that will ever happen. Hope when the day comes this guy costs someone a life its his and not someone elses.

  • Deborah says:

    I don’t know what’s worse – some reporter trying to make points with the France family by taking up for their out of control, drunken, drug addicted punk or thinking that the Nascar community is going to let this pass without notice. Every Nascar and sports reporter that wrote articles about Mayfield should be shouting this news from the rooftops – but sadly most are scared to report the truth because they don’t want to get blacklisted by the France Family Empire. Reporters like you should turn in your credentials.

  • MAGICVA says:

    I guess posts do get deleted. Sad that when comments don’t agree with writers opinions, they get deleted.

    • RacinToday says:

      Comments are always welcome, and they don’t have to agree with our opinions.

      We do get a TON of spam; some of it is really offensive, so the comments have to be read by a human before they can post, and sometimes there is a delay (and I know, sometimes that delay can be very frustrating).

      – RacinToday.com

  • MAGICVA says:

    Sorry I missed it, it was not deleted. Thanks for posting it.

  • MAGICVA says:

    Guess you already read the book, since you deleted my post.

  • Thomas says:

    Brian France wasn’t held accountable for his actions. JC is a little rich punk. Mayfield is a victim of a corrupt investigation. They’re trying to make him an “example” by using a bad system to stop drugs in NASCAR, which should have been stopped long before using sensible methods.

  • CSGAS says:

    I never thought anyone representing RacinToday would make comments asking me to let the fox guard the henhouse.

  • Deborah says:

    Woody: France Drug Problems A Sign of Times

    Should read:

    Woody: France Drug Problems A Sign of an irresponsible, spoiled, rich MAN (not kid) that should GROW UP.

    What was he going to do – sober up all day Friday then fly to Miami and race on Saturday ? Does he does this before every race ? I guess he won’t be getting the Trueman Sportsman Award he was supposed to be awarded with at the year ending banquet tonight. What a piece of work.

    I guess be will be spirited away to some rich and famous spa, rehab facility in California where he will get all better in 6 weeks and will be allowed to continue his racing career just like nothing happened. P A T H E T I C ! !

  • MAGICVA says:

    Maybe you need to read the book: “Dirt Under the Asphalt”

    Below are quotes from the book by Jack Flowers

    Now, NASCAR is doing everything it can, in a controlled way, to clean
    up its drug image although its CEO, Brian France, has been connected with
    drugs on more than one occasion.
    In the late ‘90s, I wrote a story in Speedway Scene, a weekly motorsports
    trade publication, that accused Brian France, son of Bill France Jr., of checking
    into the Betty Ford Clinic, near Los Angeles, Calif., for drug rehabilitation.
    NASCAR called me on the carpet for the story, but never did anything,
    except having my publisher, Val LeSieur, to call Betty Jane France, Brian’s
    mother, and apologize for the story.
    All the time, the rest of them, gathered at that meeting in Daytona
    Beach, Fla., were laughing.
    Later, I was told by a high-ranking NASCAR executive, no longer employed
    by NASCAR, the only thing wrong with the story was that Brian France had
    checked into the Betty Ford Clinic for drug rehabilitation, but under an assumed
    name. I never have been alble to find out that name to this date.
    On another occasion in the ‘90s, Brian France was stopped by a South
    Carolina state trooper, who charged France with drug possession.
    Jim Hunter, now NASCAR’s vice president of communications and
    president of Darlington (S.C.) Raceway at the time, was able to to get the
    South Carolina state troopers to drop the case.
    But now, since NASCAR took the Southern 500 Nextel Cup race on
    Labor Day weekend from Darlington and moved it to California Speedway
    in Fontana, Calif., there are some law enforcement officials in the state of
    South Carolina who are more than eager to discuss France’s stature in that
    state and what occurred a few years back.

    I’ve had two interesting phone calls in recent months, both from individuals,
    who talked their hearts out, as long as they could remain anonymous.
    One was from a retired nurse, living in the Palm Springs, Calif., area.
    The other was from a retired state trooper in South Carolina.
    The nurse said she had worked for the Betty Ford Clinic at the time
    Brian France checked.
    None of the staff knew who France was because he wasn’t using his real name.
    Now that NASCAR has two Cup races at the Auto Club Speedway in
    Fontana, Calif., and since France has made it clear he wants a National
    Football League (NFL) franchise for Los Angeles, his picture is widely circulated
    in the area in daily newspapers and on TV.
    “That’s how we found out,” said the nurse. “A group of us were sitting
    around one day, watching TV for some reason and they showed Brian
    France. We didn’t know him by that name. We knew him by another name.
    But no mistaking it, it was the same man, regardless of the name.
    “While he was in the Clinic we treated him for drug abuse. He was quite
    strung out when he go there.”
    The state trooper from South Carolina told a similar story.
    Now that Darlington (S.C.) Speedway has lost one of its two Cup dates,
    including the traditional Labor Day Southern 500, none the state troopers in
    South Carolina feel like that quite as obligated as they once were.
    “It’s no doubt we picked up Brian France,” said the state trooper, “just
    outside of Columbia (S.C.). He had just flown in on a plane and had rented
    a car and was on his way to Darlington. I was by myself that morning, but
    had to call in a supervisor for what I found.
    “We found drugs and other paraphernalia in the car, but we were told to
    drop it that this was Brian France.

    Such is similar the situation in Arizona where Dennis Huth, a one-time
    high-ranking NASCAR executive, since let go, baby-sat Brian France while
    employed at Tucson (Ariz.) Raceway, a NASCAR-International Speedway
    Corp. (ISC, controlled by the France family) property. Brian France was
    using drugs and continued to do so while in Arizona until Arizona officials
    called the France family in Daytona Beach and asked to have him out of the
    state and never let him come back and all would be forgotten.

  • missouriracefan says:

    No thanks needed for my help editing your article, Mr. Woody. Obviously none will be given.

  • Ginger says:

    Perhaps the reason we find this so ironic is that Brian France was never held responsible for his actions. Richmond was right about one thing. The France family probably does have a strangle hold on Daytona.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by bubbarazzi and Wayne Williams. Wayne Williams said: Woody: France Drug Problems A Sign of Times – RacinToday.com http://bit.ly/Wi6As […]