Betty Jane France

Betty Jane France, the founder of the NASCAR Foundation and wife of the late NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., died Monday, according to her family.

France was known for her philanthropy, which included the creation in 2006 of the NASCAR Foundation, dedicated to helping children's health care. The NASCAR Foundation supports hospitals and clinic, with a focus on its Speediatrics Children's Fund. It also awards the yearly Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award to a NASCAR fan who displays charitable ideals.

The Winston-Salem, North Carolina, native was born Betty Jane Zachary. Her husband died in 2007.

Betty Jane France was executive vice president and assistant treasurer of NASCAR and the chairwoman emeritus of the NASCAR Foundation.

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"Last night, the NASCAR family lost a mother, a grandmother, a friend and the light that guided the sport's charitable arm," said Brian France in a news statement posted on NASCAR’s website. "My mother taught us incredible values, that of love, patience, compassion and joy. She embraced life every day, and nothing fueled her passion more than children. Her unmatched efforts in building The NASCAR Foundation improved the lives of millions of children throughout this country. And because of that, her legacy will live forever.

"My father leaned on my mother throughout his life, relying on her wisdom and calming demeanor to help grow the sport of NASCAR. She was there, every step of the way. When we lost my father, her positive presence remained, as she used her immense skill to grow NASCAR's heart and soul, The NASCAR Foundation.

"Our family thanks you for all of your thoughts, prayers and well wishes. My mother was a special woman, and an impressive person, and she will be dearly missed."

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