Photos by Joseph Oakes, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Richmond Raceway 600 E. Labernum Ave Richmond, VA 23222
Year Opened: 1946
Chaos at Every Corner
The Richmond Raceway is a 0.75-mile D-shaped NASCAR track that currently hosts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. It hosts a race for each series both in the spring and in the fall, and all the races are run at night. Though the track is often characterized as a “short track” since it is less than 1 mile, the D-shaped layout of the track allows drivers to reach high speeds to give it that superspeedway feel.
Food & Beverage 3
Richmond Raceway offers standard concessions ranging from pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, and cotton candy. Beverages offered include bottled Coke products, Dasani water, and various alcoholic beverages.
Prices are on par with many sporting events. Frankly, the concession availability is a little disappointing in the general grandstand seating areas. However, this is generally not a big deal since fans can bring in their own food and beverages. Our suggestion is to eat before you go to the race, or bring your own food and drink to enjoy during the race.
Seating at the Richmond Raceway is available along the front stretch, and in turns 1, 2, and 4. All seats are bench back except for those in the Commonwealth Mezzanine/Tower and in the Turn 4 party deck. Seating in the Commonwealth Mezzanine and Tower are chair back, and seating in the Turn 4 party deck is high top seating with tables. There is a walkway between the seating bowl and the track, which allows fans to walk all the way around the track during the race to take in the action from different vantage points. The first row of seats is elevated approximately 10 feet to give fans sitting in the lower rows better sight lines.
At the center of the track is a large four-sided 38 x 24 foot video board, which shows live race action and highlights. The stem of the video board shows the running order; it always shows the top 5, then constantly rotates throughout the rest of the field.
A NASCAR race is one of the few sports where the better seats are higher up, as it allows you to see the entire track. While there is not really a bad seat in the house due to the elevated seats, we recommend sitting along the front stretch near the start/finish line or near turn 1.
The Richmond Raceway is located on the northeast side of Richmond between Interstate 95 and Interstate 295. It is in the middle of a largely residential area, and some parts are a little “rougher” than others. There are no restaurants or hotels within walking distance of the track. In order to avoid a lot of congestion and traffic, your best bet is to eat and stay in nearby Mechanicsville along I-295. It will be a little bit of a drive, but there are many food and dining options in downtown Richmond and along Broad Street in the West End and near Short Pump.
If you a looking for good Bar-B-Que before the race, be sure to check out The Salty Pig on US 301 in Mechanicsville or Buz and Ned’s on West Broad Street.
There are many attractions in Richmond if visiting for the entire weekend. If you come for the spring race, check to see if the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A affiliate of the Giants) are in town. Other attractions in the area include many Civil War Battlefields, the birthplace of Patrick Henry, Monument Avenue, the Virginia State Capitol building, and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
Fan attendance at NASCAR races has been steadily decreasing over the past 10 years. Despite action-packed short-track racing, Richmond Raceway has not been immune to this issue, as all of the seats along the back straightaway have been removed over recent years. During this time frame, seating capacity at Richmond Raceway has dropped from 110,000 to 51,000. With the lowered capacity, crowds are generally 30K-40K. Fans can generally spread out on the bench seating to make it look fairly full.
Despite the decreased attendance, NASCAR fans are still a passionate bunch. The majority wear gear of their favorite driver and will often hold up the driver’s number as they pass by. There are also certain drivers that many fans loathe, so expect plenty booing of these drivers.
The Richmond Raceway is easily accessible from Interstate 295. The exits for either Mechanicsville Turnpike or Meadowbridge Road will take you directly to the track. Meadowbridge Road will take you to free general parking lot H, and there is a free tram that will take you directly to the track. Richmond International Airport is only a few miles south off of I-295 in Sandston.
Since the track allows fans to bring coolers in, expect a slight delay at the gate as staff checks them. However, if you do not have a cooler, you can breeze right in. There is a concourse underneath the grandstands, that is easy to navigate. There is also a large walkway all the way around the track between the first row of seats and the fencing along the track. Both are easy to navigate to find your seat. Restrooms are located underneath the grandstands. They show their age, but are serviceable. ADA seating is located along the first row of seats at select points around the track.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to the Monster Energy Cup Series at Richmond Raceway range from $35 to $120. A $35 dollar ticket will not get you the best of seats, but it will get you in the door, nonetheless. There is also the Chaos Corner in turn 4 where fans can purchase tickets for $20 in a general admission standing room only area. Throw in free parking and the ability to bring in your own food and drinks, and you have quite a bargain for a night race in NASCAR’s premier series.
Richmond Raceway gets several extra points for their fan-friendly measures. The track allows fans to bring in coolers with food and beverages (no larger than 14x14x14 inches), backpacks, scanners, and headsets to listen to drivers communicate with the crew chief.
There are also upgrades that fans can purchase such as the Fangrounds pass, which allows fans to walk through pre-race inspections, take part in driver intros, and pre-race ceremonies in the infield.
The track gets another extra point for the open walkway all around the track between the grandstand and the fence, which lets fans view the action from anywhere they would like around the track.
While seats are being removed at many tracks across the county (including Richmond) and interest in NASCAR seems to be waning, a NASCAR race is still a great experience. If you have never been to a NASCAR race, we would certainly recommend a visit; and a visit to a “short-track” such as Richmond Raceway is as great a place as any.