Saturday, April 21, 2018

Providing relevance is job #1 for Richmond infield redevelopment project

RENDERING/Richmond Raceway
By Carol D’Agostino

Fans visiting Richmond Raceway for September’s playoff weekend will be treated to an enhanced “full immersion” experience not yet available at any other track on the NASCAR circuit. Construction on the $30 million infield redevelopment project began after September’s race weekend in 2017.

During a hard hat tour of the Cup garage area, Derek Muldowney, vice president of International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and president of ISC Design & Development, explained that goal of the project is to keep the sport more relevant to the fans by creating an enhanced “up close and personal experience.”

The new fan engagement strategy includes garage walkways. Currently, fans at tracks can purchase special garage passes that gain them entrance to the garage area with a view outside each team’s individual garage. With this new engagement strategy, fans will be able to walk through the inside of the garage from an open walkway where they can see all the teams at work. A mere low fence will separate fans from their favorite race teams as they prep their cars for the race.

In addition to the garage walkway, fans will also be able to watch cars go through technical inspection stations in the new infield from special viewing areas as well as gain access to pre-race activities, driver appearances, and other special entertainment.

Richmond’s infield redevelopment project is getting the attention of the drivers especially those who call Richmond their home track. “I am proud of what is going on here,” said Elliott Sadler, the Emporia, Va., native. “Every track needs to create a niche. We are a point in time when all NASCAR tracks need to bring more bang for your buck at the track. This is a direction we need to go,” Sadler added.

Chesterfield, Va., native Denny Hamlin spoke out in favor of racetrack owners reinvesting in their facilities and advocated for changes that reflect new fan preferences for enhanced amenities. “Fans don’t like sitting in 90-degree aluminum bleachers anymore. It’s a different world than what it used to be,” Hamlin said. He continued with a little tongue-in-cheek humor, “They want to be in the Lexus stadium with concierge bringing them a beer every two minutes. People are pretty high maintenance now and you have to keep up with that,” he added.

The new Richmond infield will officially be named the DC Solar FanGrounds. Tickets to the infield will be an add-on to a grandstand ticket purchase.

When completed the back of the garage area will open up and fans standing behind a low fence
will view all the team garages from garage walkways.
PHOTO: Carol D'Agostino/Skirts and Scuffs



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