Brian France: Science will drive innovation in NASCAR racing

NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France met with the media Saturday at Charlotte. (Photo: Greg Engle)
NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France met with the media Saturday at Charlotte. (Photo: Greg Engle)
NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France met with the media Saturday at Charlotte. (Photo: Greg Engle)

CONCORD, N.C.–With the tightest competition possible the overriding goal of NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France, the sanctioning body has increased the separation between the competition side of the business and the research-and-development side.

“What we’ve decided to think about is, as we go along, getting more separation between in inspecting the cars, running the races every weekend, and developing the rules packages of the future and other related items,” France said Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton heads the competition side of the equation, with senior vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell overseeing the R&D end. NASCAR recently hired veteran automotive executive Gene Stefanyshyn as vice president of innovation and racing development.

“We’re excited about Gene’s appointment,” France said. “It’s a big hire for us. He’ll be taking control of the R&D center (in Concord, N.C.); already has.

“We’ll be going in a direction that I’ve told everybody, which is we’re going to use a lot more science than art in establishing the very thing that matters most, which is safety, of course, but also putting ourselves in a position to have the closest, tightest competition possible.”

France said he has been pleased with the quality of racing the new Gen-6 car has delivered noted there’s always room for improvement.

“Do I think we can improve the quality of racing in terms of our core goals?” France asked rhetorically. “Sure. Gene Stefanyshyn, his team, that’s an endless journey for us to be on, to figure out. You have 43 teams that want to game whatever rules package we bring forward. They want an advantage.

“If you ask any driver, they would like to win the race by 10 seconds. But we want to see a more fair balance… That’s the hallmark of NASCAR. We boldly say that… That’s the steak on the plate for us. Our fans have come to expect us to deliver on that as much as possible.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.