Richmond International Raceway

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

The now very popular Richmond International Raceway started life as a little track known as ‘Strawberry Hill’. It was first used as a racetrack venue in 1946 when Ted Horn drove his champ car to victory on the 0.5-mile dirt track that came to be known as ‘Strawberry Hill Speedway’. These races were usually held once a year on the third Saturday of April. In the period that followed between 1953 and 2000, the track had three name changes and four configuration changes. The surface was changed from dirt to asphalt and lights were added to the facility in 1991. Ever since then, all races have been held ‘under the lights’ – something which helps make Richmond International Raceway somewhat unique.

Today the Richmond International Raceway is known for hosting some of the best NASCAR and IndyCar Series racing. The raceway features a D-shaped, 0.75 mile (1.2 km) asphalt track and is part of the 800-acre, multi-purpose Richmond Raceway Complex. Although the track is fairly short, it’s layout allows for excellent side-by-side racing and drivers are able to reach speeds similar to that of a superspeedway. This means that only the most skilled drivers can make their way to first place and there is plenty of action during the course of the average race. The Richmond International Raceway currently hosts the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series, the Indy Racing League, the United States Auto Club Silver Crown and National Sprint Car Series. The last 30 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races have been sold out and the track is known for producing some of the best racing in the sport.

In the past, Richmond International Raceway has been known as the ‘Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds’, the ‘Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds’, the ‘Virginia State Fairgrounds’ and the ‘Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway’. From these various names it is easy to tell that the Raceway complex is not only used to host racing events. It is also used to host a number of agricultural shows, expositions, sports and crafts shows and seasonal fairs. This means that the raceway complex is almost always busy with some major event but the most popular of these are the races.

Jeff Burton

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

Jeff Burton was born in South Boston, VA, on the 29th of June, 1967. His more than 30-year career started off when he first got behind the wheel of a go-kart at the age of seven and it eventually led him to winning two Virginia karting state championships before he took to stock car racing instead in 1984. He raced on his home track in South Boston Speedway, winning six Late Model races in 1986 and seven the following year.

Jeff Burton’s NASCAR career began in 1988 when he competed in five Busch Series races, twice finishing 11th. He raced the Busch Series for his father, John, finally winning in September 1990 at Martinsville, where he drove for Sam Ard, the Busch series legend. From 1988 to 1993 Burton raced full time in the Busch Series with a personal best in 1992. Overall he had a total of 20 career Busch wins.

In July of 1993 Burton made his Cup debut in New Hampshire but failed to complete the race when he had a crash after 86 laps. He again raced full time in 1994, which ended with him winning Cup rookie of the year honors. Throughout these years of racing Jeff Burton was unable to feature as well as he would have liked, but 1996 changed all of that when he began driving for Jack Roush and his career took off with six Top-5’s and twelve Top-10’s and finishing overall 13th in points.

Between 1996 and 2001, Burton was able to keep his track record up and doing well, finishing top five in points. It was during those years that he made 15 of his 17 wins, which included his first win in April 1997 in Texas. Burton was tenth in points when he finished 2001, which was the last year he ever won a race. Jeff Burton left Roush Racing in 2005 and moved to Richard Childress Racing where he had three Top-5’s and six Top-10’s driving the No. 31 Chevrolet. Overall, Jeff finished the year 18th in points for the second time round.

Continuing to build his reputation as a talented driver, and as a reflection of his confidence in RCR, Burton won the pole for four races in 2006, adding to his previous two pole wins. His best finish of the season was a second place in the Chicagoland Speedway race, and he set the pace for more than half the race at the Sharpie 500 at Bristol. Breaking his four year winning drought, Burton won at both the Dover International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. He qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, and set about winning the Dover 400, putting him in the points lead. However, the taste of victory was short-lived as a series of poor finishes and misfortune precluded Burton from the championship.

On 15 April 2007, Burton won the Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, making him the first driver to score multiple wins at this particular track. He qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, finishing in a tied 7th place in the standings for 2007. In 2008 Burton qualified 36th for his first Daytona 500, and worked his way up in the field, finishing 13th. He won the 2008 Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway, as well as the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, taking the lead from Greg Biffle. Still racing with RCR, in 2009 Burton finished 17th in series points, being his most disappointing points finish since 2005 where he came in at 18th. In October 2009 he made his 800th NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Moving into 2010, Jeff Burton will be undertaking his 17th full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His achievements to date (March 2010) include 547 starts, 21 wins, six poles, 122 top-five finishes, and 222 top-ten finishes.

Texas Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the Texas Motor Speedway was built between 1995 and 1996. The original track featured a dual banking system with a 24-degree bank for stock cars and an 8-degree bank for open-wheel vehicles. The track is classified as a superspeedway as it is more than one mile in length and it is similar in layout to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The track’s ‘Turn 4’ was reshaped in 1998 to make transitions from the turns to the straightway easier. Further renovations that same year eliminated the dual banking and resulted in the track currently in use today.

The Texas Motor Speedway measures 1.5 miles in length and features a quad-oval design. It has been banked 24 degrees in the turns to facilitate fast racing and the front straightway juts outwards a bit. It also has a seating capacity of more than 200,000 for NASCAR and IndyCar racing events. The track features tunnel bumps on Turns 2 and 4 which add to the its uniqueness. The track is currently owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. At one stage the Texas Motor Speedway was considered to be the ‘fastest non-restrictor plate track’ to appear on the NASCAR circuit. Qualifying speeds exceeded 192 mph and corner entry speeds were often clocked at over 200 mph. However, with the gradual wear of racing surfaces other tracks, such as Atlanta, proven to be faster. Currently the top qualifying record is held by Brian Vickers who posted a 196.235 mph speed in 2006.

The Texas Motor Speedway is home to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races – making it a very popular racetrack with big attendance figures. The races which it hosts are the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 and the Dickes 500. It also hosts the O’Reilly 300 and the O’Reilly Challenge – both of which are Busch Series Races. The Bombardier Learjet 550 is the only Indy Racing League race that it hosts.

Bobby Labonte

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

Robert ‘Bobby’ Alan Labonte was born in 1964 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He started racing at the tender age of five in a quarter midget race in his hometown. Just one year later, he won his first feature race and he started racing in quarter midget events across the US – many of which he won. In 1978 he moved up to go-karts and the whole family moved to North Carolina to support his older brother Terry who had advanced to the Cup series there. Bobby Labonte continued to race and, after competing in a number of different divisions, made his Busch Series debut in 1982. After graduating, he worked at Hagan Racing and continued to race in various divisions until 1985 when he returned to the Busch Series.

In his second season of the Busch Series, Labonte claimed his first pole position and he finished second at Road Atlanta. Just two years later he won twelve of the Caraway Speedway races of 1987 and he took the track championship that year in his own car – one of two. That year proved to be most fruitful for Labonte and he took a number of wins and top-five finishes during the course of the year. In 1990, Labonte competed in the Busch Series full time, driving his own #44 Slim Jim Oldsmobile. Besides doing well on the track, he won the Most Popular Driver award that year. He went on to win his first race at Bristol and then he won again at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. He went on to win the Championship that year and made two Cup starts at the Dover and Michigan International Speedways.

In 1993, Labonte started to drive in the Cup Series. His car was the #22 Maxwell House Ford Thunderbird and he raced for Bill Davis Racing. He had a brilliant year and even took the championship title in the Busch Series that year. His NASCAR career continued to get better and better and he has clenched many more titles and wins over the years. Today Bobby has the prestige of being the only driver to win both the NASCAR Winston Cup championship and the NASCAR Busch Series Championship. Bobby and his brother Terry Labonte are also the only two brothers to have won the championship in NASCAR’s top series.

By the end of 2009, Bobby Labonte had 21 wins to his name, as well as featuring in the Top Five 114 times, and 199 times in the Top Ten. He is currently (2010) driving TRG Motorsports’ # 71, with TaxSlayer as its primary sponsor and Doug Randolph as his crew chief.

Business

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

Auto Racing, like many professional sports, is also a business, and like all businesses certain financial factors need to be taken into account for the good of the sport. Number one is the fans – those who pay for race tickets and merchandise. Fans drive the sport of auto racing, literally. If auto racing events are well-attended and race merchandise is flowing off the store shelves, then the various auto racing organizing bodies such as NASCAR, the Indy Racing League and F1 have a lot of money with which to advertise and promote their events.

Advertising and promotion are directly related to the second factor – sponsorship. Operating an auto racing team is a very expensive proposition, and the costs can run into the millions of dollars. Formula One is the most expensive racing sport, since F1 teams must construct their own cars instead of simply buying off-the-shelf parts. How is it all paid for? Sponsors. Companies pay – and pay very well in the case of winning drivers – to have their logos and products emblazoned on a race car driver’s car and uniform. Even the events themselves may be sponsored, and often are: the Busch Series, the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto and the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 are just a few examples. Here are some of the topics we’ll be elaborating on to assist you in learning about the business of auto racing:

The Industry – Race car manufacturers and component suppliers are squeezed between the desire to win at all costs and the need to conform to rules and regulations that can change suddenly. It’s a roller-coaster ride, and we’ve got the latest scoop on how the winds of change are buffeting the auto racing industry.

Services – A modern auto racing team simply cannot function without the various services that they depend on to keep their cars performing at a fine edge. Many such services are offered to racecar owners and drivers.

Sports Book and Betting – Gambling on sports events is a multi-billion dollar business, and racing fans are no different than other sports fans when it comes to putting their money on the line. Learn more about the world of sports wagering – it’s a fascinating science whether or not you’re a participant.

The sport of auto racing, despite its massive popularity, faces a number of key business challenges – not least of which are how it develops and grows in the future and how it can retain the interest of those who follow its twists and turns both on and off the race track. Here at Autoracing.com, our challenge is to provide our visitors with the finest, most up-to-date information on racing. We invite you to not only learn about the auto racing business at Autoracing.com, but also to contribute to our site for the benefit of auto racing fans everywhere!

« Previous PageNext Page »