- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 April 2009 18:58
- Published on Wednesday, 29 April 2009 18:58
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Not that you need it, but here’s one more indication that the economy is in sorry shape. Long time racing fans have known for years that if you wanted a ticket to a Cup race at Richmond you needed a real good connection to hook you up, or you had to be prepared to pay well over face value through a ticket broker.
It was not for nothing that they adopted the slogan “Racing Perfection” for the popular ¾ mile high banked oval. The only tougher ticket in NASCAR was Bristol. Both tracks were perennial sellouts. With a seating capacity of over 112 thousand seats, RIR sold out 34 straight Cup races, that is until last September. The economy was beginning to tank and last fall’s race was delayed a day because of tropical storm Hanna. For the first time in 17 years you were able to walk up to the box office of Richmond International Raceway the day of the race and buy a ticket.
With less than a week to go, and decent weather forecast for Saturday evening’s race, there are still tickets available. After listening to its fans and due to the economic conditions, Richmond International Raceway announced a ticket price restructuring for NASCAR Sprint Cup series tickets in the Henrico grandstand. Tickets currently on sale for Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400 start at $40.00. The $40 restructured price reflects a 50 % reduction from last May's ticket prices.
RIR has also upgraded the menu and reduced prices on several traditional items at the concession stands. The Charlie Daniels Band will perform a free concert before Friday night's Lipton Tea 250 Nationwide series race.
Today’s Richmond International Raceway is one of NASCAR’s true showcase facilities. It is interesting how the track evolved into the preferred status that it enjoys today. The track started out as a half-mile dirt track and stayed that way from 1953 until the second RIR race of 1968, when it was paved with asphalt and re-measured. The verdict of the re-measurement? The track was actually .625 miles in length.
Lee Petty won the first-ever Richmond race in 1958. Coincidently, his son Richard won the first race on the new asphalt paving in the fall of 1968. The track was reconfigured to its present ¾ mile length in time for the fall race in 1988. Donny Allison drove to victory in the first-ever race at the present ¾ mile configuration.
By now we have come to accept the annoying practice of selling the naming rights to stadiums and events all over the sports landscape, but the Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400? Friedman won a promotional contest, and the right to have his name attached to the race title.
Friedman, from Huntington Station N.Y., was chosen from a group of seven finalists from around the country based on a submission detailing his experience serving in Iraq.
Looking for a favorite Saturday night? Defending three-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has won three of the last four races at Richmond. He has won the last two fall races and the spring race in 2007. Clint Bowyer is the defending spring race winner.
Brad Keslowski’s win in last Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 marked the fortieth year of racing at Talladega Superspeedway. Bolstered by the immediate success of Daytona International Speedway, and the Daytona 500, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. took his ambitions to the next level when it came to building Talladega Superspeedway, which was originally known as Alabama International Speedway.
The opening of Daytona International Speedway in 1959 revolutionized stock car racing. In 1969, Talladega opened. Designed by Charles Moneypenny, the city of Daytona Beach Florida engineer who designed the Daytona track, Talladega was longer, 2.66 miles compared with Daytona’s 2.5 miles. It is banked 33 degrees in the turns compared with Daytona’s 31 degree banking. Inevitably, it was even faster than Daytona.
In May 1970, Buddy Bake became the first driver to post a test run speed in excess of 200 MPH in a stock Car. His Dodge Daytona ran a lap of 200.447 MPH
In April 1987, Bill Elliott set a NASCAR Winston Cup series qualifying record at 212.809 MPH. Due to the subsequent use of restrictor plates at Talladega and Daytona, Elliott’s Record has never been broken.