Arena Racing Attracts Wide Range of Racers
By Daniel Parker, Staff Reporter
Mar 17, 2017, 13:48
STAFF PHOTOS/DANIEL PARKER: Savannah Nickens, stands next to her car, tonight she races against her father.
STAFF PHOTOS/DANIEL PARKER: Layton Harrison, 8 years old of Dinwiddie, has been involved in Arena Racing for 3 years.
With a diverse cast of racers, Arena Racing has been burning rubber at the Richmond Coliseum bringing in several local racers to the track.
Since 2002, Arena Racing has been developing races, and in an intense bumper-bending test of driving skills, racers battle it out. Ricky Dennis, CEO of Arena Racing, founded the sport after watching a hockey match at the Richmond Coliseum. Dennis is no stranger to racing, his father Dennis Nelson, won the Permatex 300 at Daytona three years in a row.
Ricky Dennis continued racing and came up with the idea for Arena racing after watching a hockey game at the coliseum in 1992.
“It started I was out here watching a hockey game in 92,” said Dennis. “I’ve been in racing my whole life so when I came to my first hockey game I just pictured racing cars.”
In $10,000 stock cars, racers grind along the small track with only two seconds to make before a turn. The low price compared to other opportunities for racing is what will help keep the sport of racing alive added Dennis. The fast-paced sport has attracting people who have never raced before, people on the down time between seasons and young newcomers that want to participate in the sport.
“You win a race here tonight you feel like you won the Daytona 500! If I wreck you on the last lap you’re just as a mad at me as if you were racing the Daytona 500,” said Nelson “ We can take you on that emotional roller coaster for a lot less.”
The race is divided between future stars from ages 8 to 13 and the pro division from 13 and up. Among the younger racers is Layton Harrison, 8 years old, a resident of Dinwiddie, who wants to continue racing to the pro level.
“I like to go fast.” said Layton Harrison.
At the pro level is Savannah Nickens, Chesterfield, who started racing after her father took her to the races. The adrenaline rush from the track is what pushes her forward, she said. Both Nickens and her father Johnny Shonk, race against each other, but her father adds that she’s getting faster than him on the track. Nicken’s is the only girl at the pro division level at the race on March 11th, but it doesn’t bother her.
“I feel like we’re all the same person as soon as that helmet comes on,” said Nickens. “It doesn’t matter what you are who you are it’s just racing and having fun.”