Richard Childress Racing
March 21, 2012
Sadler previews NASCAR exhibit at the Children's Museum of Richmond
"What a great day for the future of racing, which are the kids, and the Commonwealth of Virginia."
Author: Randy Hallan
When it's ready, in August, Richmond International Raceway's four-segment display will be one way the track tries to connect with potential new fans. On Wednesday, with a prototype of the first segment on display, the raceway seemed to be connecting.
About 200 people were at the Children's Museum of Richmond's in-town location for the unveiling of the "When They Were Young" prototype. The display will feature grown-up photos and childhood images of NASCAR drivers who call Virginia home. Participants will match the images.
Elliott Sadler of Emporia was on hand for Wednesday's unveiling. He liked the fact that the Children's Museum had one of Richard Petty's racing Pontiacs out front and a red racer from the earlier years of NASCAR's Modified series sitting a few feet away on the museum floor.
The red modified No. 11 car, he noted, had been driven by the late, great Ray Hendrick of Richmond. "That Flying Eleven," Sadler said, referring to the wings adorning the number on the side of Hendrick's car, "is probably the most famous paint scheme that has ever been a part of Virginia racing."
The display was unveiled with the help of Sadler's 2-year-old son, Wyatt, and the three children of RIR President Dennis Bickmeier: 8-year-old Joshua, 5-year-old Kaitlyn and 3-year-old Nathan.
By August, the then-and-now display will be joined by three other elements, explained Bickmeier: a race car for kids to see and perhaps climb into, a mock flag stand and a space where children assemble cars and roll them down the tracks they put together.
The display will travel among the Children's Museum's three locations in Richmond, western Henrico County and (to be opened later) Chesterfield County.
Museum officials said the museum already draws 360,000 visitors a year. Bickmeier said he hopes the display connects with them. "Auto racing isn't as self-recruiting as it used to be," Bickmeier said. "We need to let people know what a great sport we have."
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