NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France was arrested on DUI and drug-possession charges Sunday evening in Sag Harbor, N.Y., the police department there announced Monday. France was pulled over after his 2017 Lexus went through a stop sign at 7:30 p.m. local time, according to a press release from the department. His blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, TMZ Sports reported. Police also found oxycodone pills during a search, according to the announcement.
France, who turned 56 on Thursday, has been charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated — which in New York means his BAC was above 0.18 — and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was held overnight before his arraignment Monday morning, after which he was released on his own recognizance.
“We are aware of an incident that occurred last night and are in the process of gathering information,” NASCAR said in a statement. “We take this as a serious matter and will issue a statement after we have all of the facts.”
Here’s his mug shot, via Aaron Katersky of ABC News:
Later Monday, NASCAR announced in a statement that France has taken an indefinite leave of absence and that, “effective immediately, NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France has assumed the role of interim chairman and chief executive officer.”
Jim France is Brian France’s uncle.
NASCAR’s Road to Recovery drug-testing program mandates that random drivers, crew members and officials are tested at each week’s racetrack, with positive findings leading to suspensions. It’s unclear whether that program applies to NASCAR executives.
France and his wife live in Manhattan, according to a 2016 Hamptons Sheet story, but spend time in the Hamptons when their schedule allows. The grandson of NASCAR founder William H.G. France and son of longtime CEO Bill France Jr., Brian France has been at the helm of NASCAR’s stock-car circuit since 2003, during which its fortunes have risen and then fallen. In a 2009 book called “Dirt Under the Asphalt,” longtime NASCAR writer Jack Flowers alleged that France had undergone treatment for substance abuse at the Betty Ford Center in California and also had been arrested on drug-possession charges in South Carolina before he ascended to his current role. France denied the allegations when asked about them in 2013 by ESPN’s Ed Hinton.
“To this day, that still shows up, and I have no idea — obviously I’ve never been to Betty Ford,” France said. “There have been times where I probably apparently have needed to be. I’m kidding around on that, obviously. All of it is tongue-in-cheek. But I have no idea where he could have — he just made it up. You know? I don’t know what to tell you.
“I’m not going to say I never inhaled, going back into my teenage days,” he continued. “But I have never checked into [a rehab clinic], or needed to, and have not had those issues.”
France drew scrutiny for his odd behavior at the NASCAR Cup Series Awards ceremony last December in Las Vegas. At one point, he abruptly walked off the stage without a handshake after presenting the NASCAR Cup championship ring to Martin Truex Jr.
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