NASCAR Foundation Gala Raises Funds for Children’s Charities

Ten years ago, Betty France, executive vice president and assistant treasurer of NASCAR, formed the NASCAR Foundation, the charitable arm of the popular auto racing organization.

Under her guidance, the foundation supported emerging children’s charities both financially and by shining the national spotlight on them. France passed away this last August, but at Tuesday night’s NASCAR Foundation’s Honors Gala 2017 — held for the first time in New York at Times Square’s Marriot Marquis — her son Brian France, the CEO and Chairman of NASCAR, told Variety that he was determined to continue his mother’s work. “We’ve got to be in touch with our industry and fanbase, it’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “This is for our children.”

Mark Lazarus and Brian France at the NASCAR Foundation Honors Gala

The Gala was hosted by “NASCAR on NBC” host Krista Voda and opened with remarks by “Today Show” host Hoda Kotb, who noted that she got to speak the iconic “drivers, start your engines” line at a NASCAR event last year.

Each year, the Foundation picks a number of charities to highlight and encourages fans to vote for the winner of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Winner. This year, the four finalists were Tuesday’s Children, a foundation dedicated to helping families who lost a loved one on September 11 or other terrorist attacks, the pediatric brain cancer research and awareness charity Team Jack Foundation, Mikayla’s Voice, a charity started by Logan Houptley when he was nine to promote inclusion and awareness of the differently abled, and Backpack Beginnings, an organization started by Parker While to combat food insecurity in her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina.  The $100,000 award went to Team Jack, while the other three finalists received $25,000.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick at the NASCAR Foundation gala.

Additionally, the gala featured a two-song set from Sara Bareilles, and a charity auction hosted by rapid-fire interlocutor Colonel Michael R. Powers, who auctioned off tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl and a Daytona 500 VIP experience, as well as an original painting from 2015 Betty France Humanitarian Award Winner Jeff Hanson, who started making brightly colored paintings to raise money for charity when he learned he was going blind.

Sara Bareilles performed at the gala.

“This is what her sole purpose was, what she saw for NASCAR, helping other families, and I’m honored to be a small part of it, says NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of the evening and France’s legacy.  “This was her one thing that she wanted to succeed in NASCAR, and I think everyone in our sport has embraced it to make sure it keeps going and keeps doing the the great things that it does.”

Other drivers in attendance included Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Rusty Wallace and more.

More Scene

  • Angler Los Angeles

    Angler Is L.A.'s Major New Seafood Destination

    San Francisco transplant Angler is set to make a major splash in Los Angeles, as Joshua Skenes’ innovative seafood-focused restaurant opens in the somewhat unlikely location of the Beverly Center. Angler is the latest and the most ambitious restaurant to join a fresh crop of spots, including Cal Mare and Yardbird, on the recently refurbished [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler Set for Special Performance at New York Pride (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler is set to appear at New York’s Pride Main Event this Saturday (June 29) at the Javits Center. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, she’ll perform a song accompanied by composer Marc Shaiman, of “Hairspray” and “Mary Poppins Returns” fame. Her stage time is set for 11 p.m. Also scheduled to [...]

  • Magic Johnson, Larry Bird

    Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Robin Roberts Honored at 2019 NBA Awards

    The NBA went Hollywood on Monday night, mixing basketball legends with a star-studded list of presenters including Samuel L. Jackson, Tiffany Haddish and “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley at the 2019 NBA Awards. Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal hosted the third annual award show, which aired live on TNT, kicking things off with a surprise [...]

  • Naomi Watts and Gretchen Carlson'The Loudest

    ‘The Loudest Voice’ Stars Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe Talk Roger Ailes

    Roger Ailes may have been the force behind the creation of Fox News, but the late newsman’s legacy will forever be his atrocious sexual harassment of several of the network’s female anchors and producers. Showtime premiered its new limited series “The Loudest Voice,” which chronicles Ailes’ rise and fall, on Monday night at the Paris [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

  • Bebe Rexha

    Mumford and Sons, Sting, Ciara, Bebe Rexha Light Up Cannes Lions

    There was no shortage of excellent music at the 2019 edition of Cannes Lion. The international gathering of creatives drew top music brands – among them: Spotify, Live Nation, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM/Pandora, VEVO and Universal Music Group – and a slew of well-known acts to stages across the Croissette, to villas above the city and onto [...]

  • Patrick Wilson

    Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace on Scary Stories From 'Annabelle Comes Home' Set

    Tales of spooky occurrences on the sets of horror movies like “The Exorcist” and “Poltergeist” have circulated for years, and it looks like “The Conjuring” franchise is following in their footsteps in that regard. The cast of “Annabelle Comes Home” shared their unnerving stories from set at the film’s premiere on Thursday night at the Regency [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content