From Tailgate to Trackside: NASCAR Gets Rowdy in Richmond

Kara MartinSenior Analyst ISeptember 11, 2009

The Chevy Rock and Roll 400 is a race that we anxiously await each year. It's the race that makes or breaks a season for a handful of drivers. With the top four drivers already locked in, Saturday night proves to be a mathematician's dream as, eleven drivers compete for the remaining eight coveted Chase positions.

Many articles will be published breaking down the odds and speculating on how the chips will fall…this one ain’t one of them!

This week I invite you to get rowdy in Richmond with me as I report up close and personal from tailgate to trackside.

Richmond is my “go to,” my first love and the one that I will return to each and every year.

Welcome to my house!

Richmond International Raceway, then known as Strawberry Hill Speedway began as a half-mile dirt track in 1946. NASCAR’s partnership with the track began on April 19, 1953 as Grand National Series driver, Lee Petty took the checkered flag.

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Over the years, the track has undergone three name changes, four configuration changes and one surface change, from dirt to asphalt. Lights were added to the track in 1991 making RIR the only tack on the circuit to hold all of it’s major events “under the lights.”

Today the .75 mile, D-shaped oval is one of the series most beloved tracks. It’s “racing perfection” as driver’s take the field one last time before to 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.

The September race in Richmond is one of the most exciting and anticipated races of the year.

Class dismissed, let’s get rowdy in Richmond!

Unlike other tracks with sprawling acres of beautiful countryside, Richmond International Raceway is located deep in the heart of downtown. While there are private campgrounds surrounding the outskirts of the track, backyard camping is where it’s at!

Twice yearly the friendly folks of Richmond open their arms and lawns to NASCAR fans. For a moderate fee you can park by the day or even camp by the week as many of the homes have been modified to include RV electrical and water hookups.

To spend a couple nights parked in someone else’s yard is lodging at its finest! Remember camping out in your own living room as a kid with your best friends under “forts” of blankets and furniture? It’s just like that, antics and all!

What the fans be grillin?

The night race allows for plenty of daylight tailgating, fans love to get to the track fast then take it slow!

A good southern breakfast on the grill is always a great start to any day. There’s nothing better than a perfect combination of bacon, eggs, grits, biscuits and sausage gravy combined a strong cup of fireside coffee to get you in the mood for a day of tailgating goodness.

It is not uncommon to pop open a beer at 9:00 in the morning as barbecue smokers everywhere begin firing up. The weekend chef has all day to perfect a delicious meal of baby-back ribs, seasoned pork shoulder, smoked brisket and roasted chicken. Definitely worth the wait!

At Richmond anything goes, including the drink of choice. Beers from the cheapest “Natty Light” are nestled in ice right next to the Sam Adams. Shots from whatever bottle is passed your way by a friend or total stranger must always be well received. We Southerners are known for our hospitality, so it would be rude to turn down an invitation from even the reddest of necks!

You’ve got a full day in store, make the most of it!

Kick it up at Scotts Party Zone with Kenny Wallace, Joey Logano, Brendan Gaughan, Jason Keller, and Sam Hornish on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday, join Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, and Michael Waltrip at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Green Fan Zone for a question and answer session before the race.

If chillin’ out in style is more your thing, make your reservations at the Torque Club. The air-conditioned lounge combines premiere suite amenities with the best outdoor seating.

For a $35 dollar donation, get your stroll on with Richard Petty, Bobby Labonte, Reed Sorenson, and A.J. Allmendinger by participating in the NASCAR Foundation’s Track Walk.

What would the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 be with a band? Catch the All-American Rejects on the frontstrech of the raceway as they kick-off the pre-race celebrations.

As we remember the tragedy of eight years ago, RIR will honor will honor the lives lost by flying the American flag that flew over Ground Zero, originally affixed to the “Last Column” of the World Trade Center.

The flag was raised at 2 pm on Thursday by Nationwide driver Benny Gordon, who’s car will feature a 9/11 memorial paint scheme, retired New York fireman Lt. Mickey Kross, and RIR president Doug Fritz, along with representatives from the Henrico County, Va., police and fire departments.

“Lt. Kross escaped from the North Tower of the World Trade Center as it collapsed. He spent many months helping with recovery efforts at Ground Zero and is currently working with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

As part of the patriotic festivities, Lt. Kross, as a representative of the National September 11 Memorial, will lead the grandstands in the Pledge of Allegiance during Friday's pre-race festivities prior to the Virginia 529 College Savings 250.

Joe Daniels, the president of the September 11 Memorial, also will be a guest of Gordon's team at Friday night's Nationwide Series race. The flag will fly until Saturday after the Sprint Cup race.

The September 11 Memorial & Museum has launched a 'Text-to-Donate' program based around the Richmond race. Cellular users can text 'WTC' to 25383 to arrange a $5 donation to support the project.”

Please stop and take a moment to remember our fallen heroes.

Never Forget.

Check out these events and more at www.RIR.com.

I’ll be checking in all weekend, so keep your eyes peeled for updates from the track as we rock on at Richmond!