As part of the 75th anniversary season, Richmond Raceway has unveiled the 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia is for Lovers. The initiative was part of the year-long campaign sponsored by the Virginia Tourism Corporation to commemorate the historic 2021 NASCAR season at America’s Premier Short Track.
As one of the most legacy-rich tracks in all of motorsports, America’s Premier Short Track has celebrated its storied history throughout the year by recognizing key moments from its half-mile dirt start to today’s iconic ¾-mile D-shaped oval. Key moments of the 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia is for Lovers were unveiled weekly on the track’s social channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Moments have been shared weekly starting with the week of the Toyota Spring Race Weekend leading up to this weekend’s Salute to American Heroes presented by Toyota on Sept. 10-11.
“Some of the most memorable races and moments in the history of motorsports happened at Richmond Raceway,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “From the first race on a half-mile dirt track in 1946 to its modernization into a ¾-mile D-shaped oval in 1988 and infield redevelopment in 2018, America’s Premier Short Track is a venue with a 75-year legacy of action-packed short track competition.”
The 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia is for Lovers was selected by the Richmond Historical Committee, which is chaired by long-time Richmond Times-Dispatch and Racing Virginia motorsports writer Randy Hallman. The members of the Richmond Historical Committee are Dick Conway, Al Pearce, Ben Hamlin, Lane Casadonte, Bill Sawyer, John Dodson, Billy Thurston, Dave Fulton, Joe Kelly, Ruth Kelly, Frank Buhrman, John Harrelson, Brandon Brown and Linwood Burrow. Richmond and NASCAR staff represented on the committee are Dennis Bickmeier and Brent S. Gambill. The Richmond Historical Committee was founded in 2017.
The top moment recognized on the 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia is for Lovers is the epic battle on Feb. 23, 1986 between Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt. With two laps to go in the race, Waltrip and Earnhardt’s hard racing led to a collision that ended with a two wrecked cars and Kyle Petty’s first career NASCAR Cup Series victory.
The memorable Petty win was on the track’s previous half-mile configuration, which was changed to the current ¾-mile D-shaped oval in the summer of 1988. The reconfiguration was started with NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty breaking ground in the Richmond infield on Feb. 21, 1988. The reconfigured track opened to rave reviews in the fall of 1988.
“I’ve dreamed of this day, giving our great Virginia fans a track like this. They’re the best,” said track founder Paul Sawyer on Richmond’s fall opening day 1988. The reconfiguration is recognized as the second most memorable moment on the 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia.
Richard Petty is “The King,” but he is also “The King” of Richmond Raceway. From Sept. 13, 1970 to Sept. 9, 1973, Petty won a record seven consecutive races at America’s Premier Short Track. He is the all-time track wins (13) leader at Richmond Raceway and his streak of seven victories is the third most memorable moment on the 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia is for Lovers.
In the NASCAR Cup Series race on Feb. 23, 1986, Dale Earnhardt unbuckled and leaned out his window while driving during a caution to clean dirt and mud off his windshield to avoid pitting. The moment has since been immortalized as one of the most memorable moments in all of motorsports. The fourth greatest moment in track history lives on as race fans share gifs of the moment daily on online.
On Feb. 21, 1988, Neil Bonnett won the final NASCAR Cup Series race on the old half-mile track at Richmond Raceway. Moments after the celebration concluded in victory lane, Richard Petty jumped aboard a bulldozer to break ground on the future ¾-mile D-shaped oval. Bonnett’s win is recognized as the fifth most memorable moment on the 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia is for Lovers.
The full list of the 75 Greatest Moments presented by Virginia is for Lovers is now available for viewing and debate online. To view the list and learn more about Richmond Raceway’s 75th anniversary, visit richmondraceway.com/75thAnniversary.
Salute to American Heroes presented by Toyota
Richmond Raceway will continue the 75th anniversary celebration season with the Salute to American Heroes presented by Toyota on Sept. 10-11. The Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race will start the weekend on Friday, Sept. 10 at 7:00 p.m.
America’s Premier Short Track will host a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, Sept. 11 with the Go Bowling 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s return to competition at 2:30 p.m. and the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders, the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, at 7:30 p.m.
Fans can purchase a single ticket for Saturday, Sept. 11’s doubleheader with the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders Cup Series Playoff race and the Go Bowling 250 Xfinity Series race. Tickets are also available for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150, the first Whelen Modified Tour race at Richmond since 2002. NASCAR tickets can be purchased via phone at 866-455-7223 or online at richmondraceway.com.
— Richmond Raceway —