The Richmond area’s NASCAR track announced Tuesday one of the biggest projects in the facility’s history, unveiling a new identity and plans for spending $30 million to improve the fan experience with a modernized infield.
The track will now be known as Richmond Raceway, shortened from Richmond International Raceway.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe was on hand for the announcement and said the planned improvements go beyond the world of motor sports. He hopes the new facilities, combined with the resurgence of The Classic Amphitheater, are the beginning of something big at the former fairgrounds site in Henrico County.
“This is the first step in what I view as a redevelopment of the entire area,” McAuliffe said. “If we look at the next five, 10 or 20 years, I envision this whole area developed into a gigantic entertainment district. That’s what the France family has done at some of the other racetracks they have.”
Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corp., represented the family at the announcement.
The Richmond improvements follow nearly $400 million in combined investments by ISC at Daytona and Phoenix. At Daytona, an emphasis was placed on drawing fans into the facility year-round through shopping, dining and other amenities.
“You’re going to see more entertainment and an elevated guest experience overall,” France Kennedy said of the changes.
The renovation, which will be done entirely with private money, will modernize the infield, adding dedicated viewing areas to watch teams working on their cars in the garages, as well as viewing stations for post-race inspections. It will also bring victory lane closer to the grandstands.
After a decade of declining attendance, the track is launching a number of initiatives to bring fans back to NASCAR.
“We really appreciate the core fans that have continued to support us, and we have to continue filling the pipeline as well with new ones,” France Kennedy said.
The infield modifications are expected to be ready in time for the fall race in 2018, which is also the first time the track will host a Cup playoff race.
Richmond’s next Monster Energy Cup race will take place Sept. 9, when the Federated Auto Parts 400 will crown a regular-season champion on the circuit. It is scheduled to be Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final race at the track.
After that race, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held for the infield improvements.
The new Richmond Raceway logo of double R’s was developed in cooperation with the local agency Madison+Main, which aimed to play up the track’s history within the sport. Before 1988, the track was known as the Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway.
The goal is to emphasize the Richmond identification, as well as provide consistent branding across the track, complex and The Classic Amphitheater.
Tuesday’s announcement was headlined by McAuliffe and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, but in a show of regional unity, representatives from neighboring localities and other area sports teams were also in attendance.