The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Race fans ready for green flag to drop at Dominion Raceway in Spotsylvania
Race cars and pickup trucks filled the dirt parking lot and spilled over onto the side roads Saturday at the I–95 exit at Thornburg in Spotsylvania County to take part in an open house at the site of the planned Dominion Raceway.
The usually empty, wooded area drew crowds of excited race fans of all ages for the “Waving the Green Flag Celebration.” Those gathered enjoyed live music from the Whiskey Creek band as they ate hot dogs and hamburgers and took in an array of race cars on display. There was also a tractor-pulled hay wagon on hand so visitors could get a riding tour of the 160-acre lot.
The complex, which is estimated to cost about $16 million, will include a go-kart track, a drag-racing strip, a three-story, 36,000-square-foot speedway complex, two rescue helicopter pads, concessions, meeting rooms and an RV camping area, as well as two parking lots with the capacity to park over 1,500 cars.
On Saturday, a sea of camouflage and Harley Davidson-clad racing enthusiasts lounged on bales of hay as they feasted and chatted with fellow fans. and and listened to country favorites, such as “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Wagon Wheel.”
“You see the turnout; you see that there’s an interest,” said Mike Kerns, a safety director for BK Racing. “[There are] a lot of loyal racing fans in this area.”
For Kerns, racing is a family affair. His father raced at the Old Dominion Speedway, the raceway that was located just south of Manassas in Prince William County until it closed in 2012. The Spotsylvania raceway complex—set to open in early 2015—is meant to replace the closed one, which is in the process of being demolished.
Kerns’ father even brought his mother to the speedway for their first date.
“I think you’ll see a lot of money put into the economy in this area because of the track so I think it’ll be good for the citizens,” Kerns added.
The line for the tractor-pulled wagon tour stretched the length of the parking lot.
The 15-minute tour was guided by Chuck Fitzgerald, an engineer for Bowman Consulting, which is designing the complex.
The visitors were treated to a path that wound through the woods, with Fitzgerald pointing out exactly where the attractions will be.
Since “racing and trees don’t mix,” about 116 of the 160 acres on the site will be cleared for the complex, Fitzgerald said.
Surrounding woods will be used as a buffer to protect environmentally sensitive areas like the Po River, which lines the northern end of the property, he added. Allen Stidham of Bealeton, who enjoys drag racing with his brother, is excited to see the new track coming to Spotsylvania.
“It’s a good thing,” Stidham said. “A lot of people [are here] supporting it.”
Although Sam Innes of Spotsylvania would love to race, she says she’ll just be watching when the raceway finally opens.
Innes came out Saturday to check out the cars.
“[The raceway is] going to bring a whole lot of people through,” Innes said. “I just like seeing the community come together.”
Bridget Balch: 540/374-5417