Richmond International Raceway officials reach out to RGIII


(Terry Renna/AP)

When Dale Earnhardt Jr. asked his fans on social media to help convince Robert Griffin III to attend Richmond’s late-April race, Richmond International Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier quickly e-mailed Junior’s tweet to his staff.

“Boom,” the track president wrote.

When Griffin quickly responded, saying he was in, Bickmeier e-mailed his staff again, this time including Griffin’s tweet.

“Double boom,” he wrote.

And when Rich Denzler, the track’s senior manager of new media & marketing communications, woke up Monday morning, he saw his account had 126 mentions on Twitter.

“What the hell did Dennis just do?” he wondered.

In case you were wondering whether Sunday night’s flurry of tweets about getting Griffin to the Toyota Owners 400 on April 26 was just a goof, well, rest assured it was not. By Monday morning, track officials had already reached out to the Redskins, trying to capitalize on what Earnhardt started.

“Our plan at this point is we’d love to connect with Robert and the Redskins and certainly determine his availability,” Bickmeier told me in a phone conversation. “I don’t even know if he knew the actual date of the race. We have to determine all those things first, but we would love to have him. We’ve got a good spot for him, and I think giving him kind of an immersion in NASCAR would be pretty cool. I think it’s a win for everybody.

“And let’s not forget, Joe Gibbs will be here,” Bickmeier said. “That’s just another great connection. There’s the Fox association — Fox broadcasts our race and Fox broadcasts the NFC games. We’ve had other Redskins players here in the past, current and former. There are so many great connections, and it kind of reinforces the Redskins presence here in town with training camp. To really align two big sports properties together, I think that’s a tremendous opportunity for everyone.”

Earnhardt had originally suggested Griffin act as the grand marshal; that’s typically an honor bestowed in conjunction with a race’s sponsor, which is why Bickmeier instead suggested the quarterback drive the pace car. RIR hasn’t used an honorary pace car driver in the recent past; “quite frankly, that’s really reserved for someone of RGIII’s stature,” Bickmeier said. Track officials are willing to make any visit as intense or low-key as the quarterback would like.

And yes, Bickmeier will drop a thank-you on Earnhardt if this actually happens.

“I’ve never seen that before,” he said of Sunday’s flurry of activity. “I think that shows the power of social media. It was a really cool interaction, quite frankly, and it just reinforces that Dale Jr. is passionate about the Redskins.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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