In 2003, NASCAR announced Brian France would take over as Chairman and CEO. His grandfather and father before him had taken the sport from the southeast to a nationally attended spectacle. The third generation leader promised to take the series to new heights, making changes to appeal to younger fans and making it internationally recognized. During the first years of his tenure, changes to the championship format and officiating generated excitement. Facilities added grandstands for more spectators, as millions of viewers tuned in at home. The sport was as popular as ever.
In the years to come, the sport’s leadership continued to make changes. This includes arguably the worst decision ever made: the Car of Tomorrow. This new generation race car had a tank-like body with a huge wing and caused the racing product to be the worst it had ever been. Jimmie Johnson dominated the series and fans started leaving. They claimed that NASCAR had lost what made it great: the down home racing feel; and they blamed Brian France for the decline in popularity.
Presently, the sport is on the rise again, but people continue to point the finger at France whenever something wrong happens. Examples could be a race where the victorious driver dominates with little challenge, or an officiating call that results in opprobrium. Media outlets and fans alike need to refrain from giving France the blame and let the changes run their courses. The Daytona Beach native is not his father or grandfather, he is his own man with his own ideas for our great race series. The modifications made by NASCAR over the last decade will be successful with time, but we need to put our trust back in Brian France to achieve that sooner.