Former Daytona International Speedway President Jim Foster dead at 91 after decade-long battle with Alzheimer's disease

Youtube video download / Last  laps of the 1991 Daytona 500 won by Ernie Irvan, the first for then-new DIS President Jim Foster, who passed away Friday, Apil 27, 2018.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Jim Foster, who was the fourth president of Daytona International Speedway, has died after a 10-year battle with alzheimer's disease. He was 91.

Foster was hired by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. in 1967 as assistant to the president. He worked in several positions over the years before his ascension to Speedway president in 1990, holding the top executive post at the track for nearly five years. 

The France family, which owns NASCAR and has a controlling interest in publicly-traded International Speedway Corp., the umbrella company that owns Daytona International Speedway and a dozen other tracks, released a statement in response to Foster’s passing on Friday. 

“Jim Foster was a trusted friend and confidant of the France Family, working directly with Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr. at both ISC and NASCAR,” the statement said. “Jim’s importance to the growth of those companies and the motorsports industry overall cannot be overstated. Jim set standards in many areas that we strive to adhere to each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Babs, and the rest of his family. Godspeed, Jim.”

The France family, which owns NASCAR and has a controlling interest in publicly-traded International Speedway Corp., the umbrella company that owns Daytona International Speedway and a dozen other tracks, released a statement in response to Jim Foster’s passing on Friday. 

“Jim Foster was a trusted friend and confidant of the France Family, working directly with Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr. at both ISC and NASCAR,” the statement said. “Jim’s importance to the growth of those companies and the motorsports industry overall cannot be overstated. Jim set standards in many areas that we strive to adhere to each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Babs, and the rest of his family. Godspeed, Jim.”

Foster, who had succeeded Bill France Jr., was appointed to the top executive spot in September 1990, retiring in August 1995. He was succeeded by bank executive John Graham, who held the post until 2002.

Foster established Daytona International Speedway’s Checkered Flag Committee in 1974, bringing together local business executives to serve as “community ambassadors” during races.

In terms of community affairs, Foster served on the board of directors of the Daytona Beach chapter of the American Red Cross, served as president of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority and was a volunteer for Halifax Health Medical Center and its foundation.

That sense of volunteerism was instilled in Foster from an early age. At 17, Foster answered the call of duty for his country near the end of World War II, when he volunteered for service in the Navy. Part of the Allied occupation force in Japan, Foster saw firsthand the devastation from the atomic bomb blast on on Nagasaki.

After the war, Foster retuned to the US and earned a degree from Catawba College, before going into sports jourbalism, cocering the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. He then went into public relations, working for Chrysler in 1966, before his hiring by Bill France Sr., a year later. In 1970, Foster created the Motor Racing Network, better recognized by its acronym MRN, a subsidiary of ISC Motorsports.

Jim Foster is survived by his wife of 63 years, Babs Foster. Lohman Funeral Homes has charge of arrangements.

Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wylie / Headline SurferFAST FACTS:

Chip Wile is the current president of Daytona International Speedway, hired in April 2016.  He was previously the president of Darlington Raceway.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.