Nascar chairman and chief executive Brian France has taken a leave of absence after being arrested on Sunday for driving while under the influence of alcohol and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The 56-year-old, who became chief executive of the stock car racing organisation in 2003, was held overnight and released on Monday morning. He is now scheduled to appear in court on 14th September.
Police observed that France’s blood alcohol levels were more than twice the legal limit and added that he struggled to keep his balance during a sobriety test. After searching him, police found that he was in possession of oxycodone pills.
‘Mr France was observed operating a 2017 Lexus northbound on Main Street failing to stop at a duly posted stop sign,’ a police statement read. ‘Upon traffic stop, it was determined that Mr France was operating said vehicle in an intoxicated condition. Upon search of his person, due to a lawful arrest, Mr France was in possession of oxycodone pills.’
France is the grandson of Nascar founder William HG France, while his father, Bill Jr, also served as chief executive of the organisation until stepping down in 2000.
Nascar vice chairman and executive vice president Jim France, who is Brian France’s uncle, will now assume the role of interim chairman and chief executive.
An official statement from Nascar said: ‘Brian France has taken an indefinite leave of absence from Nascar as chairman and chief executive officer. Effective immediately, Nascar vice chairman and executive vice president Jim France has assumed the role of interim chairman and chief executive officer.’
Under Nascar’s substance abuse policy, Brian France could now be required to go through a recovery program, or could be subjected to drug testing.
“I apologize to our fans, our industry and my family for the impact of my actions last night,” added Brian France. “Effective immediately, I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from my position to focus on my personal affairs.”
The misdemeanour comes 12 years after Brian France famously crashed his car into a tree in 2006, claiming that he had been distracted while drinking a soda. However, witnesses at the time said he had been driving at a “very reckless speed”.
The incident further clouds Nascar’s ownership future, with reports earlier this year suggesting that the France family were looking to sell their stake in the organisation. The France family does not comment on its ownership structure, but Brian France and his sister, Lesa Kennedy, are believed to each own 25 per cent of Nascar, while Jim France owns the remaining 50 per cent, according to The Wall Street Journal.