Race Weekend Central

Full Throttle: Crossing the Line to Avoid Jail Time

Back on Oct. 8, two young gentlemen in their high-dollar toys were racing across the Seabreeze Bridge in Daytona in the early morning hours, both under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. According to the police report, both were in possession of illicit drugs as well. Police officers noticed them exceeding the speed limit by a considerable amount, and at least one of them rolling through a red light. The two men were pulled over by different officers in different locations.

By luck, at least for JC France, the officer who pulled him over in Holly Hill was outside of his jurisdiction when he made the stop. The end result was that France is facing no charges for reckless driving, speeding or possessing illegal drugs because the officer who pulled him over did it across some imaginary line in the street.

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, JC France is a member of the France family, the ruling monarchy of NASCAR. He is also a driver in the Grand-Am series, which consequently is also owned by NASCAR. He is the son of NASCAR Vice Chairman Jim France and the grandson of Bill France Sr., the founding father of the sport. There is no question that he has considerable resources at his disposal which not only gave him access to a high-priced passenger car and illegal drugs, but also afforded him the ability to hire top-dollar lawyers to defend him from his legal troubles.

More and more these days we continue to be made aware that, while the judicial system in America purports to be fair and balanced, the bottom line is that it is about as far from that as it can get. We look back at OJ Simpson getting off thanks to his high-priced, high-profile legal team.

We see Donte Stallworth get 30 days in jail for killing someone with his vehicle after he comes to a financial settlement with the family of the man he ran down while he was intoxicated. Pacman Jones was involved in multiple different altercations that resulted in police involvement, yet never was forced to face his accusers in a court of law.

Now, the son of one of the biggest wigs in NASCAR gets off on charges including drug possession because of a legal technicality that almost certainly would not have been acknowledged, let alone ruled upon, for someone without his financial status.

The irony of the situation is even more distasteful when painted against the backdrop of the same area of Florida not pressing charges against JC’s uncle Brian, who ran into multiple objects on his way home one evening. It was never proven that the Chairman of NASCAR was under the influence that evening, but once again it seems blatantly obvious that his status within the community and/or his financial well being most certainly had some bearing on the decision not to press charges. So much for the judicial system turning a blind eye to the stature of the accused.

For once though, NASCAR is to be commended with its handling of this situation. As soon as France was accused of the violations, he was suspended from racing indefinitely and assigned to a rehabilitation program and vigorous drug-testing program overseen by Dr. David Black. Until France completed the program, he was not allowed to compete in any NASCAR-sanctioned races. France complied with the order without any hesitation and completed every step of the prescribed program. He has now been reinstated by NASCAR and the Grand-Am series.

Just as when we watch a race on Sundays, we want to feel as though everyone is competing on an even playing field. We know there are teams that have more money than others and that does give them a decided advantage. Whether the teams have the big money or they don’t, we want to believe that the sanctioning body will enforce the rules evenly and impartially across the board.

Unfortunately, thanks to many recent decisions we have seen from the court systems across America, the same cannot be expected from the judicial arm of the government. If you have money, you can get the right lawyer to pull the right strings and cite the right precedents and get you off with a slap on the wrist or less for something that a person without means will do serious jail time for. Shame on JC France and those around him for bastardizing something that should be fair and equal to all.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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