Virginia is For Lovers of Auto Racing
Come Hear The Engines Roar
Plan your vacation so you will be in Virginia for the NASCAR Race at the Richmond Raceway Complex. Join with approximately 94,000 others who plan their time off to get together for this twice a year event. In addition to the races at the Richmond Raceway Complex, Virginia is proud to be the home of the Martinsville Speedway, in Martinsville, VA. Combined, these two racing facilities offer eight races yearly, and they bring in tens of thousands of visitors to Virginia each year.
There are two NASCAR Sprint races run at the Richmond Raceway Complex each year, as well as two Nationwide Series races. And there is no better time to be in the area than during these events. Typically, the spring races, at the Richmond Raceway, are held within the last few days of April or the first days of May. Average temperatures for that time of year are a high of approximately 75 degrees, with nighttime lows of about 55 degrees. The September races, at the Richmond Raceway, are equally enjoyable with daytime temperatures averaging around 85 degrees and nighttime lows in the low 60’s. Both of these seasons are a great time for enjoying the area around the State’s Capital as well.
The History of Richmond International Raceway
Richmond International Raceway is also called RIR, and it has a long history associated with auto racing. Other names this track has operated under, over the years, are: Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds, Virginia State Fairgrounds, and Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. In 1999, International Speedway Corporation purchased the property, and they changed the name to Richmond International Raceway, a.k.a., RIR. It is located in the Richmond Raceway Complex, in Henrico County, Virginia.
The first race held here was on October 12, 1946, on a half-mile dirt track, and Ted Horn was the winner. On April 19, 1953, NASCAR held its first Grand National Division Race at the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, and the winner of that race was Lee Petty. (45.5 mph was his average speed.) In the years since this first NASCAR race, at the Richmond Raceway, many changes have taken place. The track was changed to an asphalt track, enlarged to a .75-mile track, and it was changed from a true oval shape, to the “D” shape oval track it is today. In 1991, permanent lights replaced the temporary lights, and NASCAR races held at the Richmond Raceway are run at night, under the lights.
Richard Petty, known as "The King," has the most wins at this track, and he is the son of Lee Petty, the winner of the first NASCAR Grand National Division Race, held here in 1953.
What Makes RIR Special
As the Richmond Raceway has evolved and grown over the years, so has its fan base. No longer considered just a Southern guys’ pastime, it is now a family sport. And RIR has taken that into account, by offering some special seating for families. The Family Sections are located in two different seating sections, where there is no drinking or smoking allowed. Also, tickets for children 12, or younger, can be purchased for a special price for these sections. Only RIR’s ticket office sells these tickets, and they can be reached at 866-455-7223 to purchase the tickets. In order to qualify for these tickets, the child must be attending the Richmond Raceway with an adult, who is also buying a ticket(s). To view a map showing the locations of the Family Sections, visit their website. (http://www.rir.com/Tickets-Events/Family-Sections.aspx)
What else makes Richmond Raceway special? The fans. A lot of the fans travel from great distances to attend these short track races. Many pack their RVs, and they head to Richmond Raceway ahead of the scheduled races to enjoy the camaraderie of their race friends. Once parked, they display their flags, roll out the welcome mat, and the good times begin. Other fans come and fill the hotel rooms all around the city; many of them, too, make this a semi-annual ‘not to miss’ occasion. And for those of us who are lucky enough to live nearby, all we have to do is drive ourselves out to Richmond Raceway, and find a place to park within the free parking area, consisting of 800 acres. In addition to the on-site parking, at the Richmond Raceway Complex, there is off-site parking available nearby. There is a fee for this parking, but they offer a shuttle service to and from the main entrance of the Richmond Raceway.
The autumn NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, at the Richmond Raceway Complex, is the last race of the season before the Race For The Chase begins. If a driver has not already locked in his position in The Chase, then this “D” shaped oval short track could give him the opportunity to become a part of The Chase, and a chance to take home the Championship.
Preparing for Your Richmond Raceway Trip
You can purchase your tickets by calling 866-455-RACE. Agents are on duty everyday, 9 am to 9 pm, to help you secure your tickets. Or, you can call the RIR ticket office, at the same number, Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm, for their assistance.
Now that you have your tickets, you will need to find a place to stay. I suggest that you visit their website. (rir.com) Under the “Fan Corner Tab,” you will find, “Plan Your Stay.” There, you will find the latest information to help you plan your trip: driving directions to the Richmond Raceway, shuttle information, camping information, a list of hotels offering ‘specials’ for the upcoming race weekend, and information about other places to visit while in Virginia.
As you plan your trip, plan your wardrobe for ‘comfort,’ on race day. While food and drinks are available at the Richmond Raceway, fans are also allowed to bring in drinks and snacks. Each fan can bring in a small soft-side cooler, no larger than 14 x 14 x 14, to carry their personal drinks and food. (No hard side coolers, coolers on wheels, or with telescoping handles are allowed.)Plus, each fan can bring one bag, such as a backpack, to carry their personal items. These personal items might include: sun lotion, sunglasses, hat, a light wrap, earplugs, headset, camera, binoculars, etc. Remember, policies change, so be sure to check the RIR website before coming, to see what is and isn’t allowed.
When planning your vacation time, to attend the races at Richmond Raceway, build into your schedule, time to visit the many historical sites in and around the city. At the top of your list should be: The Virginia Capitol Building, Virginia Governor’s Mansion, VA Historical Society, The Museum of the Confederacy, The White House of the Confederacy, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, just to name a few. Also, within the vicinity of the Richmond Raceway Complex, you can enjoy shopping, fine dining, and the Kings Dominion fun park. While there, be sure to check out their latest roller coaster, the Intimidator 305, named with Dale Earnhardt Sr. in mind. Have fun while in town, and I hope your favorite driver wins at the Richmond Raceway.