Richmond International Raceway

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Richmond International Raceway
Richmond International Raceway as seen from the stands.
Richmond International Raceway as seen from the stands.
Location Henrico County, Virginia, United States
Time zone GMT - 5
Coordinates 37°35′30″N 77°25′15″W / 37.59169°N 77.42091°W / 37.59169; -77.42091Coordinates: 37°35′30″N 77°25′15″W / 37.59169°N 77.42091°W / 37.59169; -77.42091
Capacity 71,000[1]
Owner International Speedway Corporation
Operator International Speedway Corporation
Opened 1946
Former names Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway 1969–1988
Virginia State Fairgrounds 1964–1968
Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds 1955–1963
Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds 1946–1955
Major events NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Toyota Owners 400
Federated Auto Parts 400
NASCAR Xfinity Series
ToyotaCare 250 (spring race)
Virginia 529 College Savings 250 (fall race)
D-shaped oval (1988-present)
Surface Asphalt
Length 0.75 mi (1.2 km)
Turns 4
Banking 14° in turns
8° on frontstretch
2° on backstretch
Lap record 0:15.3197 seconds (176.244 mph) (Sam Hornish Jr., Team Penske, 2005, IndyCar)
NASCAR Cup racecars before the start on the 1/2 mile configuration in September, 1984
The pits during a 1985 NASCAR Cup race

Richmond International Raceway (RIR) is a 3/4-mile (1.2 km), D-shaped, asphalt race track located just outside of Richmond, Virginia in Henrico County. It hosts the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series. Known as "America's premier short track", it formerly hosted a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, an IndyCar Series race, and two USAC sprint car races.

Richmond International Raceway is one of several race tracks to host all of its events at night. The track sold out 33 consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. The sellout streak ended in September 2008 partially due to the economic downturn, though the major factor in ticket sales was the impact of Tropical Storm Hanna.[2]

Richmond has hosted the final "regular-season" race, leading up to the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, each year since the concept was introduced in 2004.

In 2010, Richmond International Raceway introduced a state-of-the-art video scoring tower that boasts more LED square footage than any other in the motorsports industry. The cap features four high definition LED screens that measure 38-feet wide by 24-feet high. The screens broadcast live race action and pre-produced video and graphics. The stem shows running order and has the ability to rotate through the entire field.


Racing in Virginia[edit]

Racing sports has a long tradition in Virginia, dating back to colonial English times. [3] From 1898 to World War I, the Deep Run Hunt Club the Northside area of Ginter Park was the site of the club's somewhat annual steeplechase race. [4] After a decade hiatus, the annual races were moved to Curles Neck in 1928 on the south side of Richmond. [5]

World War II[edit]

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, all auto racing was suspended due to WWII. From 1942 to 1945 no events were contested, banned by the U.S. government primarily on account of rationing.

Races resume[edit]

The 1946 AAA Championship Car season was unique in that it was the first post-war IndyCar race and because the Atlantic Rural Exposition had built a new state fairgrounds at the old Strawberry Hill Farm near Ginter Park. [6] [7] [8] The 1/2 -mile [9] dirt track would be suitable for both annual "Strawberry Hill" horse races and car races, and was known as the "Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds Track", "Strawberry Hill", [10] and "Strawberry Hill Raceway" [11] On October 12, 1946, Ted Horn gained the distinction of winning the track's first race in an open-wheel Indy-style car. [12]

Strawberry Hill Raceway joins national racing circuit[edit]

Two years later, when the NASCAR schedule was being formed, this short track joined several others on the circuit. [13] In 1953, the track began hosting the Grand National Series with Lee Petty winning that first race in Richmond. [14] The original track was paved in 1968. [15] In 1988, the track was re-designed into its present D-shaped configuration [16]

The name for the raceway complex was "Strawberry Hill" until the Virginia State Fairgrounds site was bought out in 1999 and re-named the "Richmond International Raceway". The Strawberry Hill Races, which are a series of steeplechase horse races were formerly held the third Saturday of April at the Richmond Raceway Complex. In 2001, the races were moved to Colonial Downs in New Kent County, Virginia's first Thoroughbred racetrack.[17]

Richmond Raceway Complex[edit]

Richmond International Raceway is located at the Richmond Raceway Complex, which is an 1,000-acre (4.0 km2), multi-purpose facility.

The Richmond Raceway Complex also hosts the Intergalactic Bead Show, Virginia Golf Show, Bassarama, the Richmond Home and Garden Show, the RV and Camping Expo, the Richmond Boat Show, the Richmond Classic Sports Card Show, the East Coast Sawmill and Logging Equipment Expo, the Craftsmen Classic Spring and Christmas Shows, Bizarre Bazaar Spring and Christmas Shows and other various arts and craft events.

Outdoor festivals currently hosted by the Richmond Raceway Complex include the 102.1 "The X" chili cook-off, the ACCA Temple Pork Festival and concerts featuring local and national recording artists.

Outdoor festivals that have been held there included the Virginia State Fair, the Richmond Highland Games and Celtic Festival, the March of Dimes Bikers for Babies, the K95 Country Music Festival and the Virginia Food Festival.

NASCAR-sanctioned races[edit]

Richmond International Raceway is home to two NASCAR races in both the Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series.

There are a pair of spring races, usually held on the last weekend of April. The Xfinity race is currently 250 laps (187.5 miles) and is named the ToyotaCare 250.[18] The Sprint Cup race is currently 400 laps (300 miles) and is named the Toyota Owners 400.[19]

There are a pair of fall races, usually held on the second weekend of September. The 250 lap (187.5 miles) Xfinity race is currently sponsored by Virginia 529 College Savings Plan and is named the Virginia 529 College Savings 250.[20] The 400 lap (300 miles) fall Cup race is currently sponsored by Federated Auto Parts and is named the Federated Auto Parts 400.[21] Under the current schedule it is the final race before the playoff-style Chase for the Sprint Cup series of races that determine the Cup champion begins, and the last chance for drivers to earn a place in the Chase.

Until 2005, RIR was home to a fall Camping World Truck Series race. Starting with the 2006 schedule, that date was transferred to Talladega Superspeedway. Until 2009, RIR was also home to a June IndyCar Series race. In July 2009, it was announced that IndyCar would not return to RIR in 2010.


  • October 12, 1946: driving an open-wheel car, Ted Horn wins the first race at the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds on a ½-mile dirt track.
  • April 19, 1953: Lee Petty wins the first NASCAR "Grand National Division" race with an average speed of 45.535 mph (73.281 km/h) at the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds.
  • 1955: Paul Sawyer and famed racer Joe Weatherly buy the property. The track becomes known as the "Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds".
  • March 10, 1964: the first Richmond race to run under temporary lights
  • The track operated as a 0.542-mile (872 m) oval through the spring race of 1988. During the spring and summer of 1988, the track was reconfigured to its current layout of 0.75 miles (1.21 km). The first race under the new configuration was in September 1988. Lights were added for the fall 1991 race.
  • The track was previously called "Strawberry Hill",[17] the "Virginia State Fairgrounds", and the "Richmond Fairgrounds Speedway"; the annual fair made the track a popular venue.
  • Richard Petty holds the record for most wins at Richmond with 13; David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace are tied for second with six.
  • Richmond is the site of the famous battle between Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip in 1986. Earnhardt tapped Waltrip in turn four and both drivers hit the wall, handing the lead to Kyle Petty who avoided the crash and won.
  • RIR hosted International Race of Champions events, in 2004 and 2005, won by Matt Kenseth in 2004 and Mark Martin in 2005, with 2005 being the final season of the series.
  • Site of Tony Stewart's first career Cup Series win, in 1999
  • Site of Kasey Kahne's first career Cup Series win, in 2005

Races and events[edit]

Current races[edit]

Previous races[edit]


  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying: Jeff Gordon, 20.674 sec. (130.599 mph, 210.180 km/h); 2013
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race: Dale Jarrett, 2 hrs. 45 min. 4 sec. (109.047 mph, 175.494 km/h); 1997
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying: Kyle Busch, 20.874 sec. (129.348 mph 208.165 km/h); 2004
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series race: Dale Jarrett, 1 hr. 47 min. 13 sec. (104.928 mph, 168.685 km/h); 1995
  • IndyCar Series qualifying: Sam Hornish Jr., 15.3197 sec. (176.244 mph, 283.637 km/h); 2005

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series records[edit]

(As of 9/10/11)

Most wins 13 Richard Petty
Most top fives 34 Richard Petty
Most top tens 41 Richard Petty
Most starts 63 Richard Petty
Most poles 8 Richard Petty, Bobby Allison
Most laps completed 21135 Richard Petty
Most laps led 5136 Richard Petty
Highest avg. start* 3.7 Bobby Isaac
Highest avg. finish* 5.0 Kyle Busch

* minimum 10 starts


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ page 44 of "Steeplechasing: A Complete History of the Sport in North America" by Peter Winants
  5. ^ page 44 of "Steeplechasing: A Complete History of the Sport in North America" by Peter Winants
  6. ^
  7. ^ page 81 of Colonial Downs and More by Francis Marion Bush
  8. ^ page 45 of Steeplechasing: A Complete History of the Sport in North America By Peter Winants
  9. ^
  10. ^ page 641 Encyclopedia of Stock Car Racing By Lew Freedman
  11. ^ page 43 of "Nascar" By Nigel Kinrade, Steve Casper
  12. ^ "In 1988, the track was totally redesigned and banked into its presence D-shaped configuration."
  13. ^ "The original track was built by Virginia native Paul Sawyer in 1946 and was one of the first short tracks to join NASCAR's fledgling group of original tracks two years later. "
  14. ^ "Richmond International Raceway has hosted the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since 1953. Lee Petty won the first race that year. "
  15. ^ "The original track was paved in 1968."
  16. ^ "In 1988, the track was totally redesigned and banked into its presence D-shaped configuration."
  17. ^ a b Strawberry Hill Races Traditions
  18. ^ Toyota Sponsoring Two NASCAR Races at RIR in April 2013
  19. ^ Toyota Sponsoring Two NASCAR Races at RIR in April 2013
  20. ^ Announcing entitlement for Fall Nationwide race 2009
  21. ^ Virginia-Based Federated Auto Parts Unites with RIR for September 8th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Entitlement
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links[edit]