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Richmond Raceway Sold for $215M

December 1, 1999

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Richmond International Raceway, a monument to owner Paul Sawyer’s vision for NASCAR and his family for 45 years, was sold Wednesday for $215 million to International Speedway Corp.

The sale puts ISC in control of 10 tracks where NASCAR Winston Cup races are held. It also maintains the long-standing relationship between the Sawyer family and NASCAR founder Bill France, whose family operates ISC.

``Our relationship with the Sawyers goes back to my father’s days with Paul in the early days when they started NASCAR,″ ISC president Jim France said. ``We’ve had a great working relationship and we’re excited about this team joining our team.″

Richmond becomes the 10th NASCAR track to fly the ISC banner, joining a lineup that includes such stock car venues as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega SuperSpeedway, as well as new tracks like Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The three-quarter-mile D-shaped oval, built in 1988 when the old half-mile oval was torn up, is ``a first-class facility, as fine as any in the country,″ France said.

Paul Sawyer, 83, will serve as chairman of the board of RIR. Oldest son Wayne will be the track’s president and younger son Bill will be the executive vice president.

The sale means the planned expansion to as many as 150,000 seats at RIR will progress more quickly. The track had about 97,000 seats for its fall Winston Cup race and is adding 12,000 more before next spring.

``It’s gotten to the point in racing that all the help you can get and all the support you can get you’re going to need,″ Wayne Sawyer said at a news conference.

Paul Sawyer said he and his sons had discussed selling the track for the past year but did not decide to do so until a few months ago.

``I saw the handwriting on the wall that we really needed to get big, big, big,″ Sawyer said.

Sawyer said the $47 million acquisition of the racetrack land from the Atlantic Rural Exposition Authority, along with purses that reached a high of nearly $2 million for the fall race at RIR, helped convince him the time was right to sell.

As part of the deal, ISC added Douglas Fritz to the RIR management team as vice president and general manager. Fritz has worked in various ISC positions over the last decade.

Fritz will oversee the daily operations of the track and pledged to carry on Sawyer’s traditions such as allowing children 12 and under into non-Winston Cup races for free when accompanied by an adult, and providing plenty of parking, all of it free.

``The tradition that these guys have built here is exactly the way that we intend to take care of the fans,″ Fritiz said.

Wayne and Bill Sawyer will help with the development of new ISC race tracks in Kansas City, Kan., and Chicago.

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