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Wayne Sawyer, who helped transform Richmond's racetrack, dies
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Wayne Sawyer, who helped transform Richmond's racetrack, dies

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Wayne Sawyer, who was part of the Sawyer family that shaped Richmond’s track into one of the iconic destinations in NASCAR, died Friday.

Mr. Sawyer, who grew up in what is now Chesapeake, was 78.

He had been battling cancer, according to a post from Virginia Motor Speedway.

His father, Paul, bought the half-mile dirt track in Richmond with Joe Weatherly in 1955.

Sawyer bought out Weatherly in 1956, paved the track in 1968, kept upgrading and expanding it, and turned it into a premiere NASCAR stop.

Wayne Sawyer, who previously worked in construction, building and management, and commercial real estate, joined the family business at Richmond in 1987. He was instrumental in reconfiguring it into a ¾-mile, D-shaped oval track during the 1988 season.

Wayne served as contractor, according to a Times-Dispatch story, and Hugh Hawthorne, longtime friend of the Sawyers and Lee and Richard Petty, directed much of the work that changed the site.

Paul Sawyer, Wayne and another son, Billy, ran Richmond International Raceway until December 1999, when they sold the track to International Speedway Corp. for $215 million.

Paul Sawyer died in 2015.

A funeral service for Mr. Sawyer will be held Nov. 27 at noon at London Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia Beach.

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