AP NEWS

Richmond Raceway cuts ribbon on $30 million redevelopment project

September 20, 2018

With a simple snip in victory lane Wednesday morning, Richmond Raceway moved into a new era. The track held a ribbon-cutting for its new DC Solar FanGrounds as its $30 million Richmond Raceway Reimagined infield redevelopment project comes to completion. The project was announced in July 2017, and the groundbreaking was last September, setting an aggressive timeline in motion to finish it for the fall race weekend Friday and Saturday. At Wednesday’s event, track president Dennis Bickmeier said the project is not just a new infield, and not just a new garage. Bickmeier said it’s a new attraction. “Something that doesn’t exist in motor sports today,” Bickmeier said. “And the vision that we set out for with our designers, we feel like we really accomplished it. And that vision was to immerse the fans right back into the heart of the sport.” One of the project’s highlights is a viewing walkway that will allow fans a look into the garage as crews work on their cars. Bickmeier has told the story of how the vision for Richmond Raceway’s new garage came about a couple of years ago when he was visiting with some fans in the track’s campgrounds. Someone told Bickmeier that he had come to Richmond Raceway for 20-plus years and did everything there is to do except for walk into the garage. “And that hit me,” Bickmeier said. That’ll change at 8:30 a.m. on Friday when the first fans come through Richmond Raceway’s pedestrian tunnel. “They’re going to walk right into these garages and feel what this sport is all about,” Bickmeier said. “And that’s what’s going to make a difference at this racetrack, and that’s what’s going to make a difference for this sport going forward.” Among the other new amenities as part of the project are the Markel Entertainment Plaza, for celebrity appearances and musical performances; the Victory Lane Club, a hospitality area that includes rooftop access overlooking the new Gatorade Victory Lane; the Virginia Tourism Visitor Center; and a wider pedestrian tunnel to the infield. One-day passes to the DC Solar FanGrounds are $70, and weekend passes are $125. Weekend packages for the Victory Lane Club are $1,200. Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico; Frank Thornton, chairman of the Henrico Board of Supervisors; Henrico Manager John Vithoulkas; Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation; and longtime season-ticket holder Thomas Enroughty each spoke Wednesday and took part in the ribbon-cutting. When the ribbon was sliced, Bickmeier said he felt a bit of relief and a lot of excitement. “I think everyone really pulled together,” Bickmeier said. “I mean, I think this is an example of collaboration as well, from design team, to construction team and everybody in between.” Throughout this weekend, Bickmeier will spend a lot of time in the FanGrounds. He’ll get comments on the new amenities. The track also will conduct a survey after the event to gather feedback. Bickmeier wants fans to take advantage of the opportunity they’ll have to be in the sport’s core. “To be closer to the cars than they ever have been before when they’re being worked on, when they’re going through technical inspection, whatever that may be,” Bickmeier said. “I think we’ve broken down some barriers here to allow people a little bit more access.”

With a simple snip in victory lane Wednesday morning, Richmond Raceway moved into a new era.

The track held a ribbon-cutting for its new DC Solar FanGrounds as its $30 million Richmond Raceway Reimagined infield redevelopment project comes to completion. The project was announced in July 2017, and the groundbreaking was last September, setting an aggressive timeline in motion to finish it for the fall race weekend Friday and Saturday.

At Wednesday’s event, track president Dennis Bickmeier said the project is not just a new infield, and not just a new garage. Bickmeier said it’s a new attraction.

“Something that doesn’t exist in motor sports today,” Bickmeier said. “And the vision that we set out for with our designers, we feel like we really accomplished it. And that vision was to immerse the fans right back into the heart of the sport.”

One of the project’s highlights is a viewing walkway that will allow fans a look into the garage as crews work on their cars. Bickmeier has told the story of how the vision for Richmond Raceway’s new garage came about a couple of years ago when he was visiting with some fans in the track’s campgrounds.

Someone told Bickmeier that he had come to Richmond Raceway for 20-plus years and did everything there is to do except for walk into the garage.

“And that hit me,” Bickmeier said.

That’ll change at 8:30 a.m. on Friday when the first fans come through Richmond Raceway’s pedestrian tunnel.

“They’re going to walk right into these garages and feel what this sport is all about,” Bickmeier said. “And that’s what’s going to make a difference at this racetrack, and that’s what’s going to make a difference for this sport going forward.”

Among the other new amenities as part of the project are the Markel Entertainment Plaza, for celebrity appearances and musical performances; the Victory Lane Club, a hospitality area that includes rooftop access overlooking the new Gatorade Victory Lane; the Virginia Tourism Visitor Center; and a wider pedestrian tunnel to the infield.

One-day passes to the DC Solar FanGrounds are $70, and weekend passes are $125. Weekend packages for the Victory Lane Club are $1,200.

Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico; Frank Thornton, chairman of the Henrico Board of Supervisors; Henrico Manager John Vithoulkas; Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation; and longtime season-ticket holder Thomas Enroughty each spoke Wednesday and took part in the ribbon-cutting.

When the ribbon was sliced, Bickmeier said he felt a bit of relief and a lot of excitement.

“I think everyone really pulled together,” Bickmeier said. “I mean, I think this is an example of collaboration as well, from design team, to construction team and everybody in between.”

Throughout this weekend, Bickmeier will spend a lot of time in the FanGrounds. He’ll get comments on the new amenities. The track also will conduct a survey after the event to gather feedback.

Bickmeier wants fans to take advantage of the opportunity they’ll have to be in the sport’s core.

“To be closer to the cars than they ever have been before when they’re being worked on, when they’re going through technical inspection, whatever that may be,” Bickmeier said. “I think we’ve broken down some barriers here to allow people a little bit more access.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly