Things you probably didn’t know about Richmond

0 Comments

Having opened in 1946, Richmond International Raceway has a long history.

The .750-mile track, located just outside the Richmond city limits in unincorporated Henrico County, hosted its first NASCAR race on April 19, 1953, with Lee Petty winning.

Here’s some fun facts about RIR, courtesy of Racing Insights:

* The track’s original name was “Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds,” which was changed in 1948 to “Strawberry Hill Raceway.” It was re-named to its current “Richmond International Raceway” in 1999 when International Speedway Corporation purchased the facility.

* The track was originally a half-mile dirt track. But in 1968, it was paved with asphalt, as well as reconfigured to grow to a .750-mile D-shaped oval.

* The 400-lap distance of Sprint Cup races dates back to 1976.

* RIR sits on 900 acres and includes a 60,000 square foot Exhibition Hall and an 8,000 seat Classic Amphitheater. In addition to racing, among the more than 120 events it hosts during the course of the year are: Richmond Gun Show; Ladybug Fund Wine Tasting; The Bizarre Bazaar’s Spring Market; Glow Run 5k; Rev3 Rush Triathlon; Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival; Blue Crab Cluster Dog Show; Brantley Gilbert Tour; National Civil War & Antique Arms Show; and the Richmond Reptile Expo.

* Kyle Busch is the winningest active Sprint Cup driver at RIR with four career victories there. But to break the track record, Busch is going to have to keep racing for quite a few more years: Richard Petty holds the mark with 13 career wins at RIR.

* Saturday will mark the 119th overall Cup race, third-most in NASCAR history behind just Daytona (137) and Martinsville (133). In addition, this will be the 49th Cup race held at night at RIR.

* Good luck to drivers who are winless thus far in 2015 and think they can race themselves into the Chase with a win on Saturday. Only one driver has managed to win the last pre-Chase race at Richmond and qualify for the Chase to date: Jeremy Mayfield in 2004.

* Three existing streaks could either be broken or continue Saturday: there have been different winners in the last seven races, three of the last four races at RIR were won by drivers who had never won there before, and a different driver has won the pole each of the last 10 races.

* Kurt Busch, who won at RIR in April, is hoping to become the first driver to sweep both season races there since Jimmie Johnson did so in 2007.

* Speaking of Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports leads all active teams with 10 wins at Richmond – but has not reached Victory Lane in the last 13 Cup races there.

Follow @JerryBonkowski