RICHMOND, Va. — Following substantially lower attendance than previous racing seasons, Richmond International Raceway (RIR) announced today plans to install a tollbooth on the racetrack to make up for lost revenue.
Chip Ordelski, a spokesperson for RIR, discussed the plan at a recent press conference. He said that the decision to charge the drivers a toll was largely influenced by the public’s apparent lack of interest in NASCAR, as indicated by the lackluster ticket sales.
“It’s as if everyone is finally getting tired of watching loud race cars make the same left turn for hours at a time,” Ordelski explained. “We figured that raising ticket prices would probably hurt attendance even more, so the only logical solution was to charge the drivers themselves. At a couple bucks and change for 400 laps … we’re looking at a few hundred dollars per car, easy.”
The toll plaza consisting of six lanes will be located on the final stretch of the racecourse. Each driver will be required to pay a $2.25 toll before completing each lap. While the original design plan included an E-Z Pass lane, the idea will likely be scrapped after computer-simulated models revealed that the E-Z Pass monitors may have trouble detecting the car’s transponders at an average speed of 140 mph.
The announcement was met with mixed responses from the sport’s regular drivers. 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch approved of the move, citing a need for increased driver participation.
“Richmond’s a great city; I don’t mind contributing a little bit if it helps keep the sport alive. I’ll just make sure my pit crew keeps some spare change ready.”
However, several racers have voiced negative opinions about the decision. Racer Joey Logano, who took first place at the 2015 Daytona 500, was one of several drivers who participated in practice runs last week with the toll booths in action.
“It was the ninth lap and I was in third place until I reached the toll plaza,” a frustrated Logano complained. “But then Earnhardt Jr., who was in front of me at the booth, didn’t have his quarters ready. It took him nearly two minutes to find some cash and dish it out to the attendant. By the time I finally got through, I had fallen back to 25th.”
Nevertheless, the trial run was considered a success and is expected to be implemented in time for the next race.
“We believe it will definitely get our revenue back on track,” Ordelski stated. “Besides, it’s better than our original ideas of a beer tax or encouraging the racers to work as Uber drivers the night before the race.”