Richmond IndyCar race expecting record crowd

UPDATE #2 Per the Richmond track's own website the seating capacity is 112,029, which seems too high given the small size of the majority of the grandstands as compared to, say New Hampshire, which visibly has much larger grandstands, is 1/4-mile longer and claims to have a seating capacity of 94,000 or thereabouts. Something is very odd indeed.

06/29/08 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. The Bear Stearns report published in 2001 lists Richmond as officially seating 99,400 people. Given that over 2/3rds of the grandstands were closed for last night's IndyCar race, the maximum number of people that could have been in attendance was 35,000. Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and say 40,000, that is a far cry from the 60,000 that they were predicting.

06/25/08 Indy Racing League officials weren't sure what to expect when they began to stage open-wheel races in the heart of NASCAR country in the mid-1990s. As stock car fans hesitantly embraced the sport, some wondered if the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway would survive.

So far, the SunTrust Indy Challenge apparently has succeeded beyond expectations.

Racetrack officials are expecting a record crowd of more than 60,000 for Saturday night's race. And IRL officials are convinced that a record field of possibly 28 drivers, 50 additional laps and a unified series will pique the interest of a growing fan base in the Mid-Atlantic region.

"When we get a breakdown of television ratings, the Richmond media market always rates high," said Angstadt, whose responsibilities include sales and marketing. "When we come to town, there's always a nice crowd.

"We know who our fans cheer for, and we would certainly be remiss if we didn't listen to our drivers. Believe me, if they didn't like a venue, we would hear about it. When they like a venue, that means a lot."

Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick agree that drivers' input figures significantly in keeping Richmond on the schedule even as bigger markets — Charlotte, Atlanta and Phoenix — failed to survive. Winston Salem Journal

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