​Lesa France Kennedy, NASCAR's top mom

Stock car racing is the stock in trade for one mother and her son. In fact, you could say they've always had the inside track! Michelle Miller takes us on a Mother's Day visit to Daytona:

Lesa France Kennedy knows a lot of drivers at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. But it would be safe to say that her son, Ben, is her favorite.

Ben's family encouraged him to do whatever he wanted. No surprise: he chose racing.

Did it scare his mom? "Sure, anytime that your child's going pretty fast around a track and they're 12 years old you think, 'Do they really know what they're doing?'" laughed Kennedy. "And he did."

NASCAR mom Lesa France Kennedy talks son, Ben

Today, racing at Daytona is all about going fast, and knowing what you're doing. And for Ben and his mom, the Speedway is home.

"Daytona's my backyard, I grew up here," Ben told Miller. "My mom had me do different odd jobs here -- everything from garbage duty to parking cars. I was on trash patrol."

That's what you do when your mom is CEO of the International Speedway Corporation, which runs Daytona and 12 other tracks around the country.

Lesa France Kennedy is also a top official of NASCAR, the governing body of stock car racing, which is, by the way, headed by her brother, Brian France.

Is there sibling rivalry at play? "We're siblings!" Lesa laughed.

It is a family affair. Kennedy's grandfather, Bill France Sr., founded NASCAR in 1947 on Daytona Beach.

"He just had this amazing vision," said Lesa. "He said, 'If we can just put some organization around this it can really be something.'"

He saw that the unruly sport needed regularly-scheduled races, and drivers who actually got paid.

"My grandfather taught me that sometimes you have to go with your gut and sometimes you have to take on a little risk," Lesa said.

... which was balanced by her grandmother's thrift. Anne B. France kept the early business from bankruptcy by keeping two sets of books.

"The one that she showed my grandfather basically said we were broke," Lesa said. "He would come down looking for money for a new idea or a new project, and she would dole it out very slowly, very slowly."

Kennedy's father, Bill France Jr., took stock car racing international, and helped his dad build Daytona Speedway.

And now, she's rebuilding it. By January 2016, Daytona Speedway will have more than 100,000 new seats, and a row of luxury trackside suites.

She's spending $400 million on the project, called "Daytona Rising," to help attract the thousands of fans lost during the recession years.

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Lesa France Kennedy with correspondent Michelle Miller at Daytona International Speedway. CBS News

And she hopes to change NASCAR's white Southern male image, and bring in more African-Americans, Hispanics and women to stock car racing.

"Our grandstands need to look like America," she said. "And I find that the way people become fans the quickest is if they connect with a driver. When you look out at the sea of people and you take a look at all the T-shirts, you'll know they are connected with their driver."

Talk about being connected to a driver -- Kennedy tries to see as many of her son's races as she can.

"I'm sure she's nervous," said Ben, "especially around Daytona National Speedway. It's one of the faster racetracks we go to. We're hitting speeds 200 miles an hour."

NASCAR's Lesa France Kennedy on confronting loss

Then again, she is no stranger to risk. Her husband, Dr. Bruce Kennedy, a surgeon, was also a student pilot. He died in a plane crash in 2007, a year she called "the toughest of our life." "I lost my father the month before that; he'd been sick for a long time. Then a month later, unexpected, my husband died in a plane crash. And he took off, it was a beautiful day and we were going on a trip later that day. I told him not to be late and he laughed. And ... it didn't work out that way. It didn't work out that way."


Miller asked, "How did you handle putting your life back together?"

"Really, well, Ben was 15, so we focused on school," she replied. "And then, as a mother, you can't afford to take time out."