Former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr. Dies

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Long-time NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. has died in Daytona Beach, Florida. A NASCAR spokesman says France died today at his home. He was 74.

He had been in poor health for much of the last decade - he was diagnosed with cancer in 1999.

Although he was in remission, the extensive treatments took a toll. He never regained his full strength, often had difficulty breathing and had taken to using a motorized scooter to get around.

France transformed NASCAR from a small Southern sport into a billion-dollar conglomerate during his 31 years as chairman.

France was hospitalized at least twice this year but spent his final days resting at home. His last public appearance was mid-February in Daytona Beach, where NASCAR's top names gathered to "Roast and Toast" him at the Bill France Hot Dog Dinner during the Daytona 500 build-up.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)