|credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Matt Sullivan|
Richmond International Raceway in Virginia now stands as one of NASCAR’s most important tracks – it has the enviable task of host “One Last Race to Make the Chase” each year. Learn more about “America’s Premier Short Track” in this week’s Fast Facts.
- Richmond International Raceway opened in 1946 as the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, home to a 0.5-mile dirt track. It hosted the first NASCAR Grand National Division race in April 1953, won by Lee Petty. The track became an asphalt oval for the September race in 1968, which was won by Richard Petty.
- During the span from 1955-1968, the track also went by the names Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds (1955-1963) and Virginia State Fairgrounds (1964-1968). From 1969-1988, the track was known as Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. In addition to operating under different names, the track went through many different lengths – from a 0.5-mile dirt track, it became a 0.625-mile asphalt track for the second race of 1968; for the next race in spring 1969, it was a 0.5-mile asphalt oval, then expanded to a 0.542-mile asphalt oval, which it remained until 1988.
- Between the spring and fall races in 1988, the track was reconfigured to its current layout, a 0.75-mile D-shaped oval. The last race as a 0.542-mile oval was won by Neil Bonnett; the first race as a 0.75-mile oval was won by another member of the Alabama Gang, Davey Allison. Lights were added to the track, known as RIR since 1989, for the fall race in 1991.
- Richard Petty holds the mark for the most wins at RIR (13), followed by David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace (six each). Petty and Bobby Allison share the mark for most poles with eight each.
- RIR currently hosts two Sprint Cup and two Nationwide Series races each year. It has previously hosted the Camping World Truck Series, the IndyCar Series and USAC sprit cars.
- RIR is part of the Richmond Raceway Complex, a 1,000-acre multipurpose facility which features six additional buildings. Facilities include five meeting rooms, a catering facility, three outdoor festival areas, the Horticulture Garden, a 6,000-person amphitheater and a 1,000-seat covered dirt arena.
- Find out more about Richmond International Raceway at www.rir.com.