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Richmond Raceway returns to action, without fans

Richmond Raceway
Richmond Raceway Photo

By: Nathan Hutchinson

Bill Lupinos and the staff of the Richmond Raceway had to make a lot of unusual preparations to get the dirt track ready for a return to action on Saturday night.

And they still faced some unexpected issues.

“We had a little delay right at the beginning,” Lupinos said with a laugh. “We were waiting on our thermometer to arrive.”

That slight problem didn’t slow down things down for long, though.

The Richmond Raceway roared back into the action with the Beast Has Been Unleashed Invitational. There was racing in four divisions in the first event at the dirt track in six months.

Richmond Raceway
Richmond Raceway Photo

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, no fans were allowed in the stands, but the races were available on pay-per-view.

“It was a good night,” Lupinos said. “The racing was good. People were pretty happy. Everyone was very respectful. The racers wanted to race.”

Lupinos submitted a plan to Gov. Andy Beshear’s office and worked with Madison County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor and the Madison County Health Department to get approval for the event.

Drivers were limited to only four members in their pit crews. Pit spots were marked out in larger intervals, and everyone was asked to wear masks.

All the staff at the Richmond Raceway wore masks and gloves as well, and hand sanitizer was available.

Richmond Raceway
Richmond Raceway Photo

Every person who entered through the pit got their forehead scanned by the thermometer by a registered nurse.

“She took everyone’s temperature,” Lupinos said. “Everything was recorded.”

There was racing in the track’s most popular divisions — Sonic Super Late Models, Eagle Financial UMP Modifieds, ARBodies KDRA Super Stocks and Chapter One Reality Group 4 Cylinders.

The best finish came in the Sonic Super Late Models.

Derek Fisher, last year’s points championship in this division, was in fourth place with a few laps to go.

He then made an aggressive move.

“He went up to the top side of the track, and he just started passing everyone,” Lupinos said. “He came out of turn four with the lead.”

Skylar Marler was able to re-take the lead, briefly, before Fisher went on to take the title.

Richmond Raceway
Richmond Raceway Photo

“It was one of the best races we’ve had since we’ve owned the track,” Lupinos said.

Adam Stricker was the winner in the Eagle Financial UMP Modifieds, while Bartley Grant (Super Stocks) and Brandon Creech (4 clylinders) also took titles.

All the races, including the preliminaries and hot laps, were available on pitrow.tv.

The broadcast, which cost $19.95, was watched by people all over the world.

“We had viewers from Australia. We had people from California, Michigan and all across the country.” Lupinos said.

The Beast Has Been Unleashed Invitational was believed to be the first professional sporting event in the state in more than two months because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lupinos has not scheduled any more racing at the track, yet.

New regulations will go into effect on June 1, and those guidelines will let the track owner know how he can proceed with getting back to a more regular schedule.

“We will see if it is no fans, or 30% or 40% or what they are going to let us do and we will go from there,” Lupinos said. “We will definitely do a no-fans event if we can’t have fans for a while.”

By: Nathan Hutchinson | Richmond Register | May 19, 2020