Richmond Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier: The Fans Bring The Energyby Hunter Thomas April 12, 2021 0 comments
RICHMOND, Va. – The short track swing of NASCAR’s spring schedule has set the stage for this weekend’s races at Richmond Raceway, and President Dennis Bickmeier couldn’t be more excited.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Richmond Raceway wasn’t able to host its spring race, and in the fall, fans weren’t allowed to attend. This year features a different scenario. Richmond Raceway will host a limited number of fans for this weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ToyotaCare 250 (1:30 p.m., FS1) on Saturday and NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 (3 p.m., FOX) on Sunday. Throughout the first eight races this season, you have seen the drivers excited about fans returning to the track, and the same goes for the staff operating the facilities.
“We’re excited to be able to welcome fans back for the first time since our Playoff race in September of 2019,” Bickmeier said. “The fans bring the energy. We weren’t able to do the April race a year ago. September, we did it without fans, so there are a lot of smiling faces around here at Richmond Raceway this week, including mine, knowing that we are going to be welcoming fans back here in a couple of days.”
While fans haven’t been able to attend races at Richmond Raceway, the track has been hosting mass vaccination events in an effort to help get life back to normal. Richmond Raceway has been the site for one facility that distributed more than 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re proud to be able to give back to our community and use the facility in so many different and unique ways,” Bickmeier said. “But certainly, to be able to be a mass vaccination site has really been something to see. It has been a really efficient operation. Thankful that they people are coming out and getting the shots in arms, and that will help us get back to a little bit more of a normalcy.”
This weekend will kickoff Richmond Raceway’s 75th anniversary. Just recently announced on Monday, the track will unveil the 75 Greatest Moments of the track’s history Richmond Raceway will engage the fans and see what their greatest moments are at the Virginia track.
“The opportunity to celebrate the 75th anniversary of this facility is a remarkable opportunity,” Bickmeier said. “You think back to the history and the legacy of this racetrack and how important Richmond Raceway was in the early years of motorsports, and certainly the early years of NASCAR, and the role that this track played in NASCAR’s popularity growth, and the role it’s playing now, and the role that it will play in the future.”
The 75 Greatest Moments is a year-long initiative that is sponsored by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Richmond Raceway has always been an active member to its community, promoting tourism so that the state of Virginia can flourish.
Bickmeier said, “We continue to be one of the top economic drivers here in our region with our race events, and a big part of that is the tourism side of it to get people to come to Virginia, to come to the Greater Richmond Area, and to enjoy the attractions that we have here. Our hotel partners do a great job of welcoming the race fans in. We’ve been driving tourism here for a long time, 75 years really.”
While COVID-19 certainly had a negative impact, some of the new procedures and schedule adjustments that NASCAR has made has really amped up the competition over the last year. The stretch that NASCAR is in right now features short tracks, Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway. All three of the tracks attract similar audiences, but Bickmeier is glad that Richmond Raceway closes out this unique swing in the region.
“I was excited to see this stretch of the schedule,” Bickmeier said. “With Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond all together, and as I said when the schedule came out, I’m really glad to be the third one in that last. If something happened at Bristol, maybe it’d build up towards Martinsville, and maybe it would be settled here in Richmond, but we’ll see. I think you saw that the dirt racing was fun and interesting for the fans. Martinsville’s race, I thought was really solid. Martin Truex is showing that he’s difficult to beat there now. And then that sets the stage for us this weekend, so you kind of get this little short track swing right now, which is cool.”
Not only is he excited about the new schedule, but Bickmeier is already thinking way ahead. Bickmeier views the race weekend like a big festival, and if NASCAR decides to permanently cut out practice and qualifying, then the staff at Richmond Raceway is already brainstorming on ideas on how to engage fans during these weekend schedule gaps. He’s also really pleased to see the excitement that is coming to fruition on the racetrack, too.
“No practice and no qualifying, I think you’re seeing that play out on the racetrack,” Bickmeier said. “Some drivers have been able to adapt to that, and other haven’t. I think it has helped some of the competition. I’m anxious to see what we get here for this weekend with afternoon races for the Camping World Truck Series and the Cup Series. I think that there have been some curveballs thrown at all of us. We’re all making adjustments but excited about what this has done for our sport. I think that the race weekend has become a little more efficient when the teams roll in and unload and race, and then they pack back up.”
If you’re a fan attending this weekend’s races at Richmond Raceway, please click this link to view the track’s safety protocols: https://www.richmondraceway.com/return/