Richmond’s Arena Racing Has A Bright Future

by | Apr 8, 2014 | POLITICS

As I watched the Arena Racing USA race at the Richmond Coliseum March 28th, I daydreamed about one of my all time favorite racing movies, Speed Racer.

As I watched the Arena Racing USA race at the Richmond Coliseum March 28th, I daydreamed about one of my all time favorite racing movies, Speed Racer.

Honestly, it’s more like this right now.

And I know what you are thinking, but I might have seen the future of racing happening here in Richmond, VA.

In its third full season, Arena Racing is the brainchild of entrepreneur and lifelong racing fan Ricky Dennis. The son of a race car driver, he started the first Richmond indoor racing events back in 1992 on a wooden race track. Now, in Arena Racing, half-scale stock cars race on a half-million-dollar track the size of a hockey rink. Ricky has plans for expansion around the world.

“There are over 300 arenas around the country, and we can race in any of them,” Ricky tells me.

The entertainment part had all the bells and whistles you would expect–the cheerleaders, the driver interviews, the singing of the national anthem–but what I didn’t expect was how quick everything moved once the race started.

The tight space of the track, with cars reaching speeds of 45 MPH and doing a full lap in under 7 seconds, makes this a full-contact sport. It’s like watching radio-controlled racers from when you were a kid, but with real people behind the wheel. The grind and crash of a dozen cars on the narrow race track brought the intensity up to a boil. I could see a lot of young kids there yelling for their favorite drivers and their families doing the same. Before you knew it, the qualifying races were over and the next race was being set up.

There were five total races over the course of the night, with a showcase featuring child drivers thrown in as well. It made for an evening of well-rounded family fun.

As I looked on, I imagined what it might be like in 10 years. Indoor racing has a potential that NASCAR doesn’t. There are no rain delays, and it takes place in a controlled environment for theatrics. I could imagine more dramatic use of light, lights on the cars to give them that streaky glow as they accelerate by. Maybe the tracks will become more complex and promoted with snappy names that attract fans who follow their favorite racers. The potential is there, and Ricky can see the future.

“A lot of people don’t realize that this is the only place in the world where this is happening. This is all coming out of my head and on to the track,” says Ricky. “As we start expanding across the country and the globe, it will be one more cool thing for RVA to put its flag on. The headquarters will be right here. This is where it was born.”

Check out the schedule at for more information.

If you would like to get involved, have a question or want to be a racer, get in contact with Ricky Dennis at

If you would like to sponsor a racer, contact Ben Terry at

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work:

more in politics

Editorial Roundtable on the Richmond & Virginia Elections 

As we find ourselves in the middle point of summer, the upcoming months will bring pivotal decisions for our community as we elect our next mayor, city council and school board members followed by the gubernatorial election next year. Over the past few months, we have...

Dispatch From Cuba 2015

I wanted to give a bit of context for this piece. I was introduced to Bill one afternoon at the local watering hole by a mutual friend. Bill, a talented and experienced writer, shared some of his work with me, and I was interested to read more. When I asked if he had...

News or Noise: How Irresponsible Journalism Threatens Our Democracy

Immediately after the first presidential debate, journalists wasted no time amplifying Biden’s poor performance. And so the narrative begins. Or rather, continues. Over the last few years, news outlets have been reporting on the advanced ages of both presidential...

RVA 5×5 | Bonding With (Or Against) The People?

There has been a lot of activity across the region recently about bond ratings and localities issuing bonds. It is a timely comparison of priorities of local leaders, a glimpse of a possible future, and what happens if you have people in charge who worry more about...