Dennis Bickmeier envisions adding technology to Richmond Raceway’s infield experience
As the $30 million Richmond Raceway Reimagined project gets closer to completion, Dennis Bickmeier imagines something else: potentially adding technology with racing information for fans.
The infield redevelopment project, which is scheduled to be finished by the time NASCAR rolls into town Sept. 21-22 for the Cup playoffs, includes a walkway in the new garage where fans who purchase an infield pass can watch as crews work on the cars.
Bickmeier, the raceway’s president, hopes one day the track will be able to have technology — perhaps touchscreens or through headsets — to explain what’s happening.
“Now [that fans] have the ability to be up close to the cars and see the cars being worked on … how do you translate what’s happening with the cars and what’s being adjusted during the practice session for the fans?” he said.
“What can we supply to the race fans here that they can’t get on their couch, that’s going to make them want to get off their couch and come to the racetrack?”
In addition to being in the garage, fans will be able to view technical inspections in the infield. Bickmeier would like to see information, or maybe a knowledgeable official, available to fans in that area as well.
“The other thing we’ve talked about is through our mobile app,” he said. “As you move through the area, you get pinged on our mobile app: ‘You’re walking through the such-and-such neighborhood, stop by and see’ whatever that might be. Or if you’re coming through the garage, can we feed something related to the car, whether it’s data on tires, fuel, engine?”
Bickmeier said it’s still a vision, but it’s something he wants to see happen. Basic infrastructure for any future technology is being put in place during the redevelopment.
While allowing fans a closer look at the action, the infield makeover features larger garages, social and engagement areas with concession stands, a new victory lane closer to the grandstands, an area for driver appearances and entertainment, a club with roof access that overlooks victory lane, two garage suites and a new media center.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of duplication of this experience [at NASCAR tracks], this garage experience, and I think the next evolution is how do we feed more technology in here,” Bickmeier said. “I don’t have those answers yet, but I think that feedback will come.”