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New book chronicles life and times of NASCAR founder ‘Big Bill’ France Sr.

big bill france

More than 20 years after his death, the legacy and legend behind NASCAR founder “Big Bill” France Sr. continues to intrigue racing fans.

For fans who love to read about NASCAR lore and history, H.A. “Herb” Branham has a new book, “Big Bill: The Life and Times of NASCAR Founder Bill France Sr.”

A longtime member of NASCAR’s public relations staff, Branham recently assumed a new role as the head of the International Speedway Corp.’s Archives and Research Center, located across the street from Daytona International Speedway.

It was the perfect treasure trove from which Branham drew upon for much of his new tome.

MORE: Take a trip through NASCAR history with the ISC Archives and Research Center

Branham’s 357-page authorized biography tells an intimate tale of how the patriarch of the France clan moved his family to Daytona Beach, Fla., during the height of the Great Depression.

It chronicles how France ultimately came to establish NASCAR as well as his ambitious plans to build Daytona and its larger sister track, Talladega Superspeedway.

There also are sad elements of France’s life, including the rarely told story about how he watched his older brother, James, drown at 13 (a tragedy that Bill never got over).

The hardcover book is available at bookstores and on

This is Branham’s second book about the France family. “Bill France Jr.: The Man Who Made NASCAR” was released in 2010.

Follow @JerryBonkowski