|The start of the 2011 spring Richmond race as photographed by|
Jerry Markland for Getty Images.
Now known as the track to offer “One Last Race to Make the Chase," Richmond has long been a venue to offer wild racing, huge drama, and crazy finishes. One reason RIR is so sensational may be attributed to both of its NASCAR races being run under the lights. Saturday night racing tends to be theatrical!
I’m rather fond of the sponsorship for the spring race held at RIR. Crown Royal is the sponsor that holds a contest where the winner is named the Grand Marshal. The winner’s name is used in the title of the race, “Crown Royal Presents the ‘Your Name Here’ 400. Gimmicky? Yes, but so fun to know the possibility exists to have one’s name become the “official” name of the race at RIR.
For those whose NASCAR fandom goes back that far, the spring race in 1986 was the site of the famous battle between Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip. Earnhardt tapped Waltrip in turn four and both drivers hit the wall. Kyle Petty was fortunate enough not to be caught up in the melee and went on to win the race.
For more recent NASCAR fans, RIR is also the site where Tony Stewart (1999) and Kasey Kahne (2005) earned their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup wins. Both of these drivers are vying for wins this week. Stewart, of course, is strong this season and the reigning Sprint Cup Champion. Kahne had a rough start to his 2012 season, but good finishes in Texas and Kansas have him riding some momentum with his HMS ride.
Last spring I had the privilege of exploring Charlotte, North Carolina. While touring Charlotte Motor Speedway I met a group of firefighters from McLean, New York. They were down in Atlanta picking up a new fire truck. On their way back north they stopped in Charlotte to check out the track and a couple of race shops and then they were on their way to RIR for the race.
This was not the group’s first time at RIR; they loved the track and the racing and couldn’t wait for the event to begin. Although they had to leave for home directly after the race, these men were pumped for the long night ahead.
I spoke to them after the race and their return home. As they entered their hometown in the wee hours of the morning after their exhaustive night on the road post-race, they were called into duty to fight a raging fire. They were on duty fighting the fire until 4pm EST. These men are dedicated NASCAR fans and dedicated firemen.
Because they deserve the mention here are their names again: Dell Carr, Fire Chief Mike Totman, Kenny Carr, Calvin Carr, and Doug Seymour.
These men and scores more like them are the heroes who are NASCAR fans. These are the people who make pilgrimages to Virginia’s Richmond International Raceway for some exhilarating and thrilling entertainment, and save lives and protect their communities as well.
Any track that elicits that kind of love and adulation from its fans gives me pause. I am delighted that RIR is on the NASCAR circuit and am inspired by the pull it has over its fans. Now Richmond International Raceway is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.
Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.