News Analysis: Brian France arrested for DWI, possession of controlled substance

What happened: NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France was jailed overnight after police in Sag Harbor, N.Y. pulled him over and arrested him for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance (oxycodone pills), according to a press release from the Sag Harbor Village Police Department. The news was first reported by TMZ and more details are available there through TMZ’s sources.

What it means: Two hours after Chase Elliott crossed the finish line at Watkins Glen, giving NASCAR a massive boost of much-needed positive momentum, NASCAR’s leader was getting arrested for DWI and criminal oxycodone possession in the Hamptons. As if France hasn’t done enough damage to NASCAR during his time in charge, this is a major black eye for the sport.

Instead of a feel-good, racing-related storyline that seemed to give NASCAR momentum on Sunday, all the talk nationally will be about France’s arrest. Additionally, this comes while NASCAR is up for sale — so having the chairman and CEO conduct himself this way only serves to devalue the sport. France has been at the helm since 2003, a 15-year stretch in which he has made highly questionable decisions and statements, oversaw a sharp decline in his company’s fortunes and acted oddly during his all-too-rare public appearances.

France has no ownership stake in NASCAR and serves at the pleasure of his uncle, Jim France, and sister, Lesa France Kennedy. Perhaps this is the catalyst in having Brian France step aside for someone who is more engaged and capable of guiding the biggest racing series in the United States through turbulent times.

News value (scale of 1-10): Ten. Despite his lack of presence at the races and having other executives run the sport on a day-to-day basis, France is still the chairman and CEO of NASCAR — a sport with a strict drug-testing policy and public “Road to Recovery” procedure. Whether or not this is an isolated incident or a symptom of larger substance abuse issues, let’s hope France follows the example set by drivers and crew members and takes the time he needs to avoid such situations in the future.

Three questions: Is there further embarrassment to come from this situation, such as a video of the arrest or mug shot? Update: The mug shot has been released. If this incident doesn’t result in France leaving his role as head of NASCAR, what would? Given France’s close friendship with President Trump (whose name France dropped during the arrest, per TMZ), could he simply be pardoned for any charges that result from this? Update: Many of you tweeted to say the president cannot pardon someone for state charges, only federal; so this doesn’t apply. 

26 Replies to “News Analysis: Brian France arrested for DWI, possession of controlled substance”

  1. BF might be the worst CEO of any public traded company. He shows little interest in fixing the major woes of NASCAR. This may be the tipping point for the major stakeholders in NASCAR racing to push for new leadership at the top.

    1. Although the sentiment is good, NASCAR is a privately held company, and the “share-holders” are the France family.

  2. Further proof that this disengaged, man of privilege , could care less about racing much less NASCAR, should step down or be fired!

  3. He could cure cancer, but this is whats going on his tombstone…
    Its time for the family to apply the same substance abuse policies to the Chairman as they would to any other person credentialed in the sport.
    Time for Jim and Lisa to step up and bring some credibility back to the leadership of the sport by moving Mr. Helton to the helm.

    Feel sorry for Brian he’s always been compared to Sr and Jr, and he just looks like he’s been rode hard and put up wet for years.
    He needs to step away for his own good.

  4. For the good of the sport, he has to be replaced. Sorry, not sorry. He could have killed someone. I keep saying it to everyone I talk to, but it’s the truth. What if we were reading this report and it included he killed people by being stupid and driving drop dead drunk?! As for the pills, if he’s addicted, he needs to check his butt in somewhere and get help. That’s an illness. He needs to GO!

  5. Regarding your last question, Trump would only consider a pardon if he thought it would play well with NASCAR fans. I seriously doubt there are many Brian France supporters in the fan base.

  6. Just imagine how much this will effect the sale price of NASCAR? Their valuation just took a huge (PR) hit.

    Schadenfreude anyone?

  7. He’ll apologize, check into rehab for 4 weeks and come out to his job as usual. He can punish but not be punished, he’s above that.

  8. Lawyers will make a bunch or money and a fine will be paid and thats the end of it.
    After all its a family business and the few non family stockholders haven’t got the power to oust him.
    Life goes on.

  9. So I guess all those times when he made a rare public appearance and seemed to be 3 sheets to the wind, he was?

    1. I would say so, yes. It would explain his bizarre behavior at the ring presentation to MTJ at the banquet and his odd behavior and lack of public appearances. It’s probably something that has been going on for years.

      But whatever- he needs to be replaced. Now.

  10. I like the idea of promoting Mike Helton to the top. He has dedicated his life to the sport and is always visible at the track. Maybe it’s time for Lisa to try her hand at the top of they are unwilling to have a non family member at the top. Not good for the sport. All families have problems mine is living proof. He definitely has to go through the road to recovery if he remains in the sport.

    1. Mike Helton seems to be the most level-headed NA$CAR exec.. And, as previously mentioned, always visible and at the track, even stepping in to the TV booth during commercial breaks to explain an on-track call. Can’t imagine how much he has been plugging his nose, and not in the Brian France way, these past 15 years!

  11. Way to add a political twist to a story about a spoiled brat that ruined a sport. I thought better of you than that, clearly my mistake. I see no need to add that he had ties to the potus now any more than when previous administrations were in power. Do you not think he had connections with Obama? Stick to the story for what it is.

    1. He is sticking to the story. France is the one who name dropped Trump while he was being arrested.

  12. Well, let’s see… First, if he’d been at the RACETRACK where he should have been, instead of partying in the Hamptons, he wouldn’t have this problem. Second, I hope he enjoys that strict no tolerance road to recovery system he is so proud of. Third, hopefully, good riddance once and for all.

    1. Really a fan boycott won’t be big enough to effect anything. Sponsors need to step up and threaten to withdraw if Brian France isn’t removed from the sport.

  13. To those talking about Mike Helton taking over he was already there at one point.
    See ???????? (Wikipedia) Helton was named senior vice president and chief operating officer, in February 1999, and became the first person outside the France family to manage NASCAR’s day-to-day operations.[1] A year later, Helton was named President of NASCAR and sits on its five-member board of directors.

    And from what I can find ???????? He still holds the title NASCAR vice chairman and sits on the sanctioning body’s board of directors. via (The Columbus Dispatch Jul 13, 2017)

  14. Time for the grown-ups to step up to the podium and lead this sport back to healthy respectability. I truly believe this sport is in a lot more trouble than anyone wants to admit. As for BZF, time for him to step down (permanently) and get his life back in order. This is just a sad, sad situation all the way around.

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