My RIR Story: Dean Lewis
Dean Lewis has been watching races from RIR's Dogwood Section for over 30 years.

Dean has been coming to Richmond International Raceway since 1974, and camping with friends and family is one of his favorite traditions. He shares his Richmond experience as a part of the "My RIR Story" series.


Richmond is my favorite track. I’ve been to a lot of other tracks: Martinsville, Talladega, Daytona, Dover and Pocono. But Richmond is always different, especially the NASCAR season finale in September.

A race I will never forget is Kevin Harvick’s victory five years ago. I started out as a Junior Johnson fan when he was in the Budweiser car, and wherever that car went I would follow. I remember thinking (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. was going to be the greatest thing, but it was Harvick who sealed the deal for me.

My youngest son and best friend have been coming with me to every race for the last 20 years. I have three other friends who join us, too. We used to spend a lot of time together many years ago. While we’ve all somewhat moved in different directions of life, we still get together every race. The six of us have three campsites together right outside of Turn 1 and 2 in Lot F. It’s always a great weekend.

I love RICHMOND NATION because it locks in my seat every race. Most of the people in our campground sit around us in the Dogwood section in the same spot every year - and I love our seat. Being in RICHMOND NATION means we get to be at the race no matter what.

The fans who go to the races at RIR are really nice, and the track staff is great. I’ve never run into anyone with a bad attitude - even if their driver lost. Where else can you go where so many different fans and teams are together and still have a great time? A NASCAR race.

Dean Lewis
Richard Starnes
Richard Starnes (right) with Martin Truex Jr during Fan Appreciation weekend at RIR

Richard has been coming to Richmond International Raceway for nearly 30 years, but this past September was his most memorable race ever. He shares his Richmond experience as a part of the "My RIR Story" series.


I may not remember my first race at RIR, but I’ll never forget my favorite. Without a doubt, my best NASCAR experience was this past September thanks to an experience with Martin Truex Jr. during Fan Appreciation Weekend.

Through an RIR sweepstakes, I was invited to a race day meet and greet with Martin. I made it on television while he was being interviewed, visited the hauler and also toured the whole garage. It was very special and I'd never had a race experience like this before. I'm a long time Jeff Gordon fan, but  I've definitely been paying more attention to Truex since that day.

I’ve been to other tracks, but the fact you can see the whole track from my seat in the center of the Frontstretch is amazing. I enjoy the racing action at Richmond, and for me it's one of the best experiences in NASCAR. It's easy to pass so drivers can race side-by-side for long stretches at a time.

We have always arrived early to the track on race day. But since we joined RICHMOND NATION, we can park right next to the entrance for a great day of tailgating. In fact, I'd say it's the best tailgating in the sport.

I have been a season ticket holder long before RICHMOND NATION started. When RIR rolled out the program with special perks like parking, it was only natural to take our experience to the next level.

Richard Starnes

Sandy Levan
Sandy and her husband Barry at a NASCAR Cup event in Richmond.

Sandy is lifelong NASCAR fan who works part time in the Guest Services department at Daytona International Speedway. She shares her Richmond experience as a part of the "My RIR Story" series.


My favorite memory of Richmond was my Dad’s first race in 1997. He was an avid NASCAR fan, but wasn’t someone who liked to travel. I convinced him to come with us to RIR for a race. My Dad and I bonded during the race by running to the track to watch drivers practice every time we heard an engine fire up. It was special for us. Our favorite driver, Rusty Wallace, even ended up winning the race.

My husband Barry and I first came to Richmond in 1994. We had been to Daytona, but we always wanted to go to RIR. I was impressed with the excitement of seeing the racing action on the track. When we moved to Daytona in 2009, we decided to continue making trips to Richmond for races.

After about 10 years on the wait list, we finally got a site in the Main Campground at RIR. We love that RICHMOND NATION makes sure we can keep our camping spot. I don’t have to worry about losing my seats or camping as I have them every year. The program makes us feel part of the RIR family.

I’ve been a NASCAR fan all my life. Racing is my real passion as I enjoy the competition on the track. It takes a lot of skill to get around RIR. We enjoy the action at Richmond!

I feel honored to be part of the International Speedway Corporation family. I’m already excited for 2017!

Sandy Levan

Tim Roehrs
RICHMOND NATION Member Tim Roehrs and his wife Hope at the 2016 April race in Richmond

Below is a first-hand account from a RICHMOND NATION member about their year as a season ticket holder.


"You're kidding me!"

That was my reaction when Richmond called to tell me I'd won a trip to NASCAR Champions Week in Las Vegas. I'm so excited to go, and have RICHMOND NATION to thank for getting me there.

Normally, the general public does not get into the banquet, so being able to see the celebration of (Jimmie) Johnson's seventh championship will be fun. I'm not the biggest Jimmie Johnson fan - Kyle Busch is my guy, and I'll cheer for Denny Hamlin too - but you have to be excited for him, that's a major accomplishment.

I've been going to races since 1998, but my first race in Richmond was the fall race in 2007. I was on the wait list for tickets for years before I finally got some. You always heard about how Richmond was one of the best tracks for fans, for the excitement. It lived up to its promise!

I drive for FedEx and it's not always easy getting many Saturdays off, so I'm not always able to go to the spring race in Richmond. With it being changed to Sunday afternoons last April, I was able to go to both races, and (it) was an awesome race - one of the best races of the year.

To go on the track before the Fall Race and see some of the drivers at Gridside Live! was very exciting. RICHMOND NATION is a really good deal, (saving money on) both races and having events on race weekend and throughout the year.

My wife Hope is actually the one who got me into NASCAR, and every year it's something that brings my family together. We get together with my youngest son in Charlotte, some neighbors and good friends and travel up to Richmond for the races. We all hop in an RV and we're off.

To me, that's the most important part of being a NASCAR fan. The thrill of being at the track with family. There's nothing like it, and you can't describe it. You've got to go experience it.

Tim Roehrs
Jimmir Johnson Seven Trophies

Seven. Times.
Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt. Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick driver joined elite company on Sunday, as he claimed a historic seventh Cup Championship - joining the two Hall of Famers as the only drivers to accomplish such a feat. "I was driving the same race cars for the same team as Jimmie and getting beat by Jimmie," said former teammate Jeff Gordon. "To me, he’s the best I’ve ever seen." It didn't come easy for Johnson, who worked his way up from the back of the field before claiming the lead during the final overtime restart in NASCAR's thrilling season finale. "Just beyond words," said Johnson.  "Just didn't think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to do to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game."

Joe Gibbs Racing

Twelve wins, 3,769 laps led, four Chase drivers, and two in the Championship 4. Yes it was Jimmie Johnson hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy on Sunday night, but 2016 could be remembered as the year Joe Gibbs Racing established itself as a premier team in NASCAR. Their historic season propelled Toyota to their first ever manufacturer's title in the Cup series, snapping Chevrolet's 13-year winning streak. If you throw in the accomplishments of alliance member Martin Truex Jr. (another four wins and season-high 1,809 laps led), his future teammate Erik Jones, and an XFINITY Series Champion in Daniel Suarez - what team has a brighter future?

Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson

Speaking of futures, 2016 proved that NASCAR has a promising one. The 2016 Chase field saw four newbies all under the age of 27. Rookies Chase Elliott (20) and Chris Buescher (24) joined Austin Dillon (26) and Kyle Larson (24) as first-time Chase competitors, with Elliott advancing to the Round of 12 and Larson having arguably the best car at the Championship race in Homestead. Rookie Ryan Blaney (22) had a strong campaign with nine Top-10 finishes, while Team Penske's Joey Logano (26), has established himself as one of the sport's most dangerous drivers with nine wins over the past two years and a Championship 4 run in 2016. Furniture Row Racing signed Erik Jones (20) to a full-time Cup ride in 2017, and his XFINITY Series teammate Daniel Suarez (24) took home the XFINITY Series Championship. Watch out next year, folks, these youngsters mean business.  

2017 and beyond

This season was definitely one for the books, punctuated by Denny Hamlin's historic start at the Daytona 500 and Jimmie Johnson's historic finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And while the sun has barely set on the 2016 season, already the NASCAR landscape is beginning to change. What will the Cup Series look like without Tony Stewart? How will his team, Stewart-Haas Racing, perform with their transition to Ford? Will 2016 go down as a career year for Joe Gibbs Racing - or just the beginning of something more? After a 12-year run with the sport, who will replace Sprint as the Cup Series sponsor? We won't have to wait long to find out - the 2017 Daytona 500 is just 95 days away.
Dennis with a fan at Gridside Live!

The checkered flag has waved on the 2016 NASCAR season. While it might be Jimmie Johnson hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy high, and we congratulate him and the No. 48 team, we feel like the true champions this year.

From hometown hero Denny Hamlin's historic finish at the Daytona 500, to the exciting season finale during Fan Appreciation Weekend, to Johnson's record-tying championship win - it's been an incredible ride that we're thrilled to have shared with you. 

You said our races were some of the very best of the season, but we won't stop there. Our staff is hard at work planning an even bigger 2017, and we can't wait to share our plans with you. As always, our top priority will be making sure our fans have the unparalleled experience they've come to expect from a race weekend at your favorite short track.

So as we wrap up the 2016 NASCAR season, one undoubtedly worthy of our incredible fans, we want to say Thank You one last time. I say it all the time: "We couldn't do what we do without you." This couldn't be clearer after a truly special season propelled by the loyal support of the best fans in sports.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dennis Bickmeier
RIR Track President
Joey Logano

He did it in Talladega. He did it in Phoenix. Can he do it again in Homestead? Joey Logano won his second straight elimination race with an overtime victory in the Can-Am 500, outracing Kyle Busch to the line and securing his berth among the Championship 4.  "This feels so good, I've never felt this good about a win before," Logano said. "There was so much on the line and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships and this team did it."

Busch's second place finish was strong enough to punch his ticket to Miami as well, where he and Logano join Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson as Championship hopefuls. But with Top-10's in five straight (and in all but two Chase races), Logano might be the hottest driver heading to South Florida. "We're racing for a championship now. We did exactly what we had to do. We've got to go to Homestead and do the same thing."

NXS Chase Field

The inaugural XFINITY Series Championship 4 is set, with Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Justin Allgaier, and Virginia's own Elliott Sadler chasing the top prize. It all comes down to the two teams of Joe Gibbs Racing (Jones, Suarez) and JR Motorsports (Sadler, Allgaier) battling it out at Homestead-Miami on Saturday afternoon. Surprisingly, none of these drivers have claimed a Championship title yet - including Sadler, who has been thiiiiis close a number of times since running full time in the XFINITY Series since 2011. Personally, we'll be cheering on our hometown guy, but history will be made in any case.

Championship 4

Ready. Set. Chase. 
Only one race remains in the 2016 NASCAR season - the four-way battle for a Championship in Homestead-Miami Speedway. Can Carl Edwards, who's finished runner up to the likes of Johnson (2008) and Tony Stewart (2011), finally seal the deal and win his first title? Will Jimmie Johnson add to his historic resume with a seventh Championship? Can Joey Logano, the youngest driver to compete in the Championship round, make Penske's 50th anniversary celebration extra special? Or will Kyle Busch become the first repeat champ in five years? You'll have to tune in this Sunday to find out.