The History Of Richmond Raceway

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Richmond Raceway (RR) is a 0.75 miles (1.21 km), D-shaped, asphalt race track located just outside Richmond, Virginia in Henrico County. It hosts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series. Known as “America’s premier short track”, it formerly hosted a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, an IndyCar Series race, and two USAC sprint car races.

Richmond Raceway is one of only a few tracks to host all of its events at night. The track sold out 33 consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races. The sellout streak ended in September 2008 partially due to the economic downturn, though the major factor in ticket sales was the impact of Tropical Storm Hanna.

Richmond has hosted the final “regular-season” race, leading up to the start of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, each year since the concept was introduced in 2004. However, it was announced late in 2017 that Richmond would be moved into the playoffs for the 2018 season.

In 2010, the Raceway introduced a state-of-the-art video scoring tower that boasts more LED square footage than any other in the motorsports industry. The cap features four high definition LED screens that measure 38-feet wide by 24-feet high. The screens broadcast live race action and pre-produced video and graphics. The stem shows running order and has the ability to rotate through the entire field.

In 1948, when the NASCAR schedule was being formed, this short track joined several others on the circuit.  In 1953, the track began hosting the Grand National Series with Lee Petty winning that first race in Richmond. The original track was paved in 1968.  In 1988, the track was re-designed into its present D-shaped configuration

The name for the raceway complex was “Strawberry Hill” until the Virginia State Fairgrounds site was bought out in 1999 and renamed the “Richmond International Raceway”. The Strawberry Hill Races, which are a series of steeplechase horse races were formerly held the third Saturday of April at the Richmond Raceway Complex. In 2001, the races were moved to Colonial Downs in New Kent County, Virginia’s first Thoroughbred racetrack.

Richmond Raceway is located at the Richmond Raceway Complex, which is a 1,000-acre, multi-purpose facility.

Richmond Raceway is home to two NASCAR races in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series.

There is a pair of spring races, usually held on the last weekend of April. The Xfinity race is currently 250 laps (187.5 miles) and is named the ToyotaCare 250. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is currently 400 laps (300 miles) and is named the Toyota Owners 400.

There is a pair of fall races, usually held on the second weekend of September. The 250 lap (187.5 miles) Xfinity race is currently sponsored by Virginia 529 College Savings Plan and is named the Virginia 529 College Savings 250.  The 400 lap (300 miles) fall Cup race is currently sponsored by Federated Auto Parts and is named the Federated Auto Parts 400.  Under the current schedule it is the final race before the playoff-style Chase for the Championship series of races that determine the Cup champion begins, and the last chance for drivers to earn a place in the Chase.

Until 2005, Richmond was home to a fall Craftsman Truck Series race. Starting with the 2006 schedule, that date was transferred to Talladega Superspeedway. Until 2009, Richmond was also home to a June IndyCar Series race. In July 2009, it was announced that IndyCar would not return to the Raceway in 2010.

TIMELINE:

  • October 12, 1946: driving an open-wheel car, Ted Horn wins the first race at the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds on a ½-mile dirt track.
  • April 19, 1953: Lee Petty wins the first NASCAR “Grand National Division” race with an average speed of 45.535 mph (73.281 km/h) at the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds.
  • 1955: Paul Sawyer and famed racer Joe Weatherly buy the property. The track becomes known as the “Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds”.
  • March 10, 1964: The first Richmond race to run under temporary lights
  • The track operated as a 0.542-mile (872 m) oval through the spring race of 1988. During the spring and summer of 1988, the track was reconfigured to its current layout of 0.75 miles (1.21 km). The first race under the new configuration was in September 1988. Lights were added for the fall 1991 race.
  • The track was previously called “Strawberry Hill”,  the “Virginia State Fairgrounds”, and the “Richmond Fairgrounds Speedway”; the annual fair made the track a popular venue.
  • Richard Petty holds the record for most wins at Richmond with 13; David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace are tied for second with six.
  • Richmond is the site of the famous battle between Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip in 1986. Earnhardt tapped Waltrip in turn four and both drivers hit the wall, handing the lead to Kyle Petty who avoided the crash and won.
  • Richmond hosted International Race of Champions events, in 2004 and 2005, won by Matt Kenseth in 2004 and Mark Martin in 2005, with 2005 being the final season of the series.
  • Site of Tony Stewart’s first career Cup Series win, in 1999.
  • Site of Kasey Kahne’s first career Cup Series win, in 2005.
  • June 11, 2017: Track president Dennis Bickmeier announces RIR would be renamed to “Richmond Raceway”, part of a $30 million renovation of the infield known as Richmond Raceway Reimagined

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK

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