Women's Sport: Who is Lesa France Kennedy, the CEO of International Speedway Corporation?

Next up in our series of inspiring women in the business of sport is Lesa France Kennedy, the CEO of International Speedway Corporation and vice chairperson of NASCAR.

What does she do?

France Kennedy is the granddaughter of NASCAR founder Bill France Senior and has worked for the ISC, a company that owns and runs motorsports race tracks in the US, for over 30 years.

In that time she has held various executive roles including as secretary and treasurer before becoming president after her father, Bill France, Jr. stepped down. She was named the CEO in 2009. 

Throughout her time with the company, she has overseen many projects including the creation of the Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway. 

She also notably lead the redevelopment of the Daytona International Speedway a project that was launched in 2013 and finished in 2016. It cost $400 million to complete and was the ISC’s largest development project so far.

How has she impacted sport?

As a result of France Kennedy’s work in the motorsports industry, she is recognised as one of the most influential women to work in sport. Forbes has named her as the “Most Powerful Woman in Sports” twice, first in 2009 and again in 2015. The magazine wrote that her role, “puts her in control of more money than any other female in the business”.

In 2014 she also received a “Woman Making History” award from the National Women’s History Museum and was picked as the “Most Influential Woman in Sports Business” by the SportsBusiness Journal in 2005. 

Why is she a role model?

In an industry that is all too often dominated by men, to see a figure like France Kennedy exert such influence is nothing short of inspiring.

She has paid it forward too. When Forbes picked her as their most influential woman in sport in 2015, they wrote: “Kennedy has served as a mentor and inspiration for hundreds of aspiring female sports executives, which is why a panel of sports insiders ranked her first.”

What’s more, she also uses her position to support many charities and organisations including the American Heart Association, Habitat for Humanity, Victory Junction Gang, and Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences.

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