After months of waiting and anticipation, Richmond Raceway broke ground Thursday morning for a $30 million infield redevelopment project.
The new infield will offer a variety of enhancements for fans, teams, sponsors and stakeholders, the track said in a media release.
Fan access will be one of the biggest enhancements, particularly with a viewing walkway in the NASCAR Cup garages.
“Today’s groundbreaking is the beginning of the next chapter in Richmond’s storied history in motorsports, as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Central Virginia region,” Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier said in a statement.
The official groundbreaking occurred this morning on the frontstretch at the edge of the infield near Turn 1. Longtime fan Thomas Enroughty dug the first hole for the reimagined project. Enroughty has attended every Richmond race since 1959, when he watched his first race from a tree on the backstretch.
The last major construction on the infield was in 1988 when the track was reshaped from its original ¾-mile D-shaped oval.
The project will officially open for Richmond’s first NASCAR Cup playoff weekend, Sept. 21-22, 2018. It will still be under construction for Richmond’s annual spring race on April 21, 2018.
Other highlights of the project include fan viewing of the inspection stations, new interactive fan engagement areas, an 80-person club experience with rooftop access that will overlook Gatorade Victory Lane, and two new garage suites with a view into the NASCAR Cup garages.
Victory lane will also be enlarged and relocated to near Turn 1. A new larger media center will also be built, in addition to a new vehicle crossover gate on the backstretch, a relocated tram route delivering fans closer to the front door of the track, a new pedestrian tunnel, 80 new consumer RV spaces, and infield drainage improvements.