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Richmond Raceway hopes to have PASS grassroots racing back in 2020

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Richmond Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier says the addition of an NTT INDYCAR Series date will not influence the potential of putting together a second Commonwealth Classic for Late Models and Tour Type Modifieds.

Richmond Raceway and the Pro All Star Series came together in 2018 to promote the inaugural event but an inclement forecast forced the postponement of the races from October to March with a slightly different makeup.

Austin Reed won the PASS Super Late Model portion with Matt Hirschman winning the Tour Type race, Mike Hopkins winning the crate race and Joey Polewarcyk Jr. winning in the American Canadian Tour showcase.

Bickmeier said that adding a grassroots weekend was part of the $30 million renovation the race track went through over the past three seasons. So now that it has added an IndyCar Series event slated for June 26-27, does that essentially replace the Late Models and Modifieds?

“No, it doesn’t,” Bickmeier said. “Thanks for asking that. That’s one of those puzzle pieces I’ve talked about. The Pro All Star Series last year with Super Late models and all the different divisions they brought here to run, completely aligns with our strategy to promote grassroots racing.

“I think you’re very familiar with the Racing Virginia platform that we launched a couple years ago to support local tracks and weekly tracks in Virginia and support up-and-coming racers. Everything that we can do there to continue to try to help elevate the sport, we’re doing. We’re Very passionate about it.”

PASS representative Alan Dietz praised the working relationship with Richmond Raceway and is looking forward to conversations about 2020.

“Dennis and the staff at Richmond could not have been better to work with for the Commonwealth Classic,” Dietz said. “It was a big disappointment when we rained out last October but the weather was perfect in March and we had nearly 200 cars show up for the event.

“To race at places like Richmond, New Hampshire, Hickory, Lanier and have the biggest car count in the country again for the Oxford 250, we feel like PASS has a lot of momentum.  We look forward to working with Dennis and hopefully can return to Richmond again soon.”

Bickmeier said discussions are ongoing with PASS to return and that featuring grassroots racing remains a key element of the track’s mission statement.

“Having the Pro All Star Series here again is something we’re talking to them about,” Bickmeier said. “It’s an ongoing discussion right now. But that was an important piece of the puzzle, as well.

“Again, connecting back to the grassroots, more people, different racing coming to Richmond Raceway and enjoying what we have here is what we’re trying to do.”

Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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