Column: Kennedy takes daring risks with the NASCAR family business

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (AP) — Ben Kennedy might sooner or later be president of NASCAR.

If that occurred, it would not be a case of nepotism. Sure, he’s the great-grandson of the founding father of NASCAR, however the 31-year-old graduated from the College of Florida with a level in Sports activities Administration and has spent his whole life studying in regards to the household enterprise.

As soon as a younger boy standing subsequent to his grandfather to Invoice France Jr.’s hidden scorching canine stand put in inside Daytona Worldwide Speedway, Kennedy grew up and finally needed to work on the snack shack. He offered software program, parked automobiles, drove the truck unloading trash from cell houses, and labored in signal retailers.

Kennedy gave it a go as a driver and entered 90 races on the NASCAR Nationwide degree. He scored a victory within the Bristol Truck Sequence race in 2016, the 12 months he ran a full season and completed seventh within the standings.

However he’s additionally seen as the long run chief of NASCAR, which this 12 months celebrates its seventy fifth season. NASCAR is at present run by his 78-year-old uncle, Chairman Jim France, and his mom, Lisa France Kennedy, Government Vice President.

As soon as he donned the motorbike go well with, Kennedy moved over to the operations facet of NASCAR and is at present Senior Vice President of Racing Growth and Technique. He is younger, progressive, unafraid of journey and returns this weekend to what’s going to eternally be a defining second in his younger profession.

It was Kennedy who got here up with the thought to maneuver the unofficial season-opening NASCAR Expo race to Los Angeles, the place the enduring Coliseum is remodeled into a brief brief observe for auto racing. It may have been a catastrophe of horrible racing, poor observe situations, or a nap for the Los Angeles crowd with no scarcity of leisure choices.

However he was profitable and Kennedy, the architect of NASCAR’s newest season-long schedules, introduced the Conflict again to the Coliseum on Sunday. to repeat the efficiency. Actor Rob Lowe is the grand marshal, Cypress Hill will play a pre-race live performance and Wiz Khalifa will carry out at halftime.

“The Colosseum for us was an enormous threat. There have been lots of questions, lots of uncertainty, and admittedly I wasn’t certain,” Kennedy stated in an interview with The Related Press at NASCAR headquarters overlooking Daytona Worldwide Speedway. We did not know what the race was going to be like till we put the automobiles in a makeshift circuit inside a soccer subject.”

Kennedy has a dream record of locations he wish to take NASCAR. For now, he is content material to get again on the runway as a warm-up for the February 19 Daytona 500 season.

“I believe lots of the metrics final 12 months had been an enormous hit. So, it was actually onerous for us to say, ‘Hey, that was a extremely massive hit, and now we’ll do one thing else,’” Kennedy stated. “I believe this 12 months goes to be type of telling. Often because final 12 months was so new and totally different, and there have been lots of new ideas that lots of people talked about.

“I believe we, NASCAR, must make it in order that when the followers come out, or watch on TV, this 12 months is simply nearly as good, if not higher than it was final 12 months.”

Kennedy did not have to show himself to the NASCAR board of administrators, however after withdrawing the Conflict’s plans, he rapidly moved ahead staging Cup Sequence racing on the streets of downtown Chicago. The weird idea is now set to be launched on July 2 for a sequence that historically sticks to oval tracks with plump turns.

“I might say lots of the Chicago talks are actually beginning to choose up steam after the conflict,” Kennedy stated, dismissing hypothesis that the race would finish and noting the wonderful relationships with the mayor’s workplace and different metropolis businesses.

“What we have continued to concentrate on is that that is so new for NASCAR. That is so new for the town of Chicago, and we’re actually making an attempt to assist everybody perceive what that is going to appear like,” he stated. “We would like this to achieve success for NASCAR, however much more profitable for Chicago and one thing Chicagoans can stay up for.”

It appears inevitable that Kennedy will quickly run all the present. Steve Phelps is the present president of NASCAR and the third non-France particular person to carry the place in 75 years; The competitors is at present run by Steve O’Donnell.

Kennedy doesn’t imagine that his future is predetermined.

“I do not suppose it is inevitable for me and I say this to Steve and Steve and my household on a regular basis: ‘I need to earn my stripes all the best way. “The very last thing I need to do is be able that does not serve the corporate, and the individuals round us are put in a state of affairs that I am not certified for,” Kennedy stated. “I need to be worthy of my place no matter that place or promotion appears like. It is actually essential to me. I believe it earns me some respect. It makes it a lot extra significant.”

“Did I find yourself there? I don’t know. However I’ve to do an excellent job to earn that proper.”

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