• William H.G. France (Bill Sr., pictured on opposite page at Daytona International Speedway in 1959, the year of its completion) finished fifth at the first stock car race at Daytona Beach, in '36
• Bill Sr. orchestrated the formation of what would be the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (first meeting, '47; first race, '48), overseeing the sport's expansion as president until '72, when his son stepped in
• William Clifton France (Bill Jr., at Daytona during construction) was president of NASCAR from '72 through 2000
Stock car racing simply wouldn't be what it is without the France family. Senior, a former gas station owner, was described in SI in '57 as "a hearty, convivial and determinedly ambitious man" who had by that year "taken an old and decaying activity, given it a solid foundation and helped to create a new major sport." Big Bill paved the way for his son, who oversaw the growth of sponsorships and television deals. (Every race was on TV by '89.) Bill Jr., as owner Felix Sabates recalled in 2007, "could chew your butt out in 16 different languages, but at the end of the day he would hug you."
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS 1981
• Tied with Richard Petty for most series titles (seven, in 1980, '86, '87, '90, '91, '93 and '94); was also runner-up three times
• Won a record 34 races at Daytona, including the 1998 Daytona 500