Caption: Jimmy Gibbons was in the first race at RIR in 1946.
As part of its celebration of the 60th anniversary of its first race, Richmond International Raceway will have on display a collection of rare racing memorabilia, including an open-wheel car driven by Richmond native Al Fleming in that first event held on October 12, 1946.
Also part of the collection will be rare photos of participants in that inaugural race, including winner Ted Horn, Jimmy Gibbons (who drove a car in that race for Frank Donleavy, Junie Donleavy's uncle) and Fleming.
Other memorabilia on display will be a vintage race helmet and goggles from that era, a piece of sculptured folk art of an IndyCar from that time period and a vintage book on the life of Ted Horn, who was one of the legendary drivers of his time. Horn died in a racing accident just two years after participating in the first race at Richmond International Raceway.
"This is a great opportunity for our fans to see some rare and unique racing memorabilia," said track president Doug Fritz. "The fact that we will have a car on display from that race nearly 60 years ago is incredible. This collection will help reinforce our open wheel heritage which began with our very first race."
In addition, legendary motorsports journalist Chris Economaki, who served as the public address announcer at the track's first race, will serve as Grand Marshal. Economaki, 85, will give the drivers the command to start their engines.
The rare memorabilia collection will be on display outside of Gate 30 on the track's midway. The collection is being made possible by the following people: Paul Fleming, son of the late Al Fleming; racing historian and journalist Joe Kelly; Junie Donleavy; and Neil Yarrington, who provided memorabilia and photos from his private collection taken by the late Bruce Craig, legendary racing photojournalist.
Admission to the display is included in the price of an admission ticket either day this weekend. The SunTrust Indy Challenge Presented by XM Satellite Radio will run "under the lights" Saturday, June 24. Saturday night's ticket includes a seat for the Richmond Times-Dispatch 100 USAC Silver Crown Championship Series race. Reserved seats are only $35 and general admission tickets are just $30. The weekend starts Friday, June 23 with WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying for the IndyCar Series and the USAC National Sprint Car Series race. Tickets for Friday night are only $15 and include admission to an autograph session with all IndyCar Series drivers. Children 12 and under are admitted free in general admission seating both nights with a ticketed adult. Please call 1-866-455-RACE (7223) or visit www.rir.com for tickets.