Written By: Scott Wharton
Edited By: Zach Champ
Photos Provided By: Dominion Raceway & Entertainment
When I was a kid, one of my fondest memories was attending the Friday night NASCAR races at the old racetrack in Richmond, Virginia.
Nothing was more exciting than experiencing the aroma of burnt rubber and the deafening roar of the race cars as they zoomed by at speeds up to 200 miles per hour!
These experiences excite me still to this day, and you can imagine my surprise a few years ago when I first heard about Dominion Raceway & Entertainment which was being built in nearby Thornburg, Virginia, off of Interstate-95.
Now, four years later, Dominion Raceway and Entertainment have grown to prove themselves to be much more than simple stock cars… they are one of the few racing venues in the region which provide visitors with truly interactive racing experiences!
I wanted to learn more about the raceway and to see if it really did have the potential to become the next big large-audience and live-entertainment venue in the region.
Was Dominion Raceway & Entertainment worth the hype? To get my answers, I decided to take the time to meet with and interview with one of the main people in charge at the racetrack, Dan Torrice.
Scott Wharton (HG): “Hi Dan, I’m Scott Wharton representing on behalf of Hoodie Goodies. Thank you for taking the time for this interview. How are you doing today?”
Dan Torrice: “Hi Scott, I’m doing great, thanks for having me.”
Scott Wharton (HG): “So Dan, can you tell us about yourself, and what your role is at Dominion Raceway and Entertainment?”
Dan Torrice: “Sure! My name is Dan Torrice and I’ve worked at Dominion Raceway and Entertainment for a little over a year now.”
Dan Torrice: “I got several roles and many responsibilities at the racetrack, but my job title is “Event Sponsorship Manager”. My job is to help the venue generate revenue in the form of local and regional business sponsorships for our various events.
Dan Torrice: "I also help assist with other tasks related to planning and hosting events at the racetrack.”
Scott Wharton (HG): “So what exactly is Dominion Raceway & Entertainment and where are you located?”
Dan Torrice: “Dominion Raceway & Entertainment is an auto-sports and racing facility that features on-site recreational and entertainment amenities including a bar, banquet and concert halls. We’re conveniently located off Interstate 95, Exit 118 Thornburg, in Spotsylvania, VA.”
Dan Torrice: “The racetrack has free parking and general admission tickets are cheap, meaning you can bring the whole family out for a day of fun on a modest budget!"
Dan Torrice: "Compared to other similar stadiums, Dominion Raceway and Entertainment provides the best deals on concessions and beverages!”
Scott Wharton (HG): “Tell us about the racing aspect. What’s going on down there? How interactive is the fan experience?”
Dan Torrice: “We’re one of 50 NASCAR sanctioned tracks in the country. I like to equate it to AAA baseball, the racers here are competing for points and money, fighting to get a chance to compete in the big leagues."
Dan Torrice: "When we’re in the racing season there are several races going on throughout the night featuring a bunch of different car types and models.”
Dan Torrice: “That’s just with our main racetrack, the oval course, which is your staple feature at most racing venues."
Dan Torrice: "At Dominion Raceway we also have an exotic road course where people can race Porches, Lamborghini’s, Ferrari's, and other luxury sports cars.”
Dan Torrice: “This is done in partnership with an exotic car company called Extreme Experience."
Dan Torrice: "Last year they hosted an event at the racetrack where I was able to drive a Lamborghini at up to speeds of 140mph!"
Dan Torrice: "It was nuts... other people have to come to give it a try!”
Dan Torrice: “We also have a drag strip that hosts Friday Night Street Drag where anyone can bring their car down and pay to race!”
Dan Torrice: “As far as visitor experiences go, we have an entire team dedicated to fan engagement."
Dan Torrice: "Families are encouraged to come, and we will do special family day events where we offer all sorts of games and promotional giveaways.”
Dan Torrice: "When you are walking up the grandstand it will lead you straight into the 118 Bar & Grill building. This is great for people who want to both catch the races and visit the bar at the same time.”
Dan Torrice: “During the racing season we sponsor pre-race tailgate parties as well as after-parties at The Groove Music Hall and 118 Bar & Grill."
Dan Torrice: “Another feature of our racetrack experience is you can visit the infield after the race to check out the race cars, meet the drivers, and get an up-front look at the track yourself!"
Dan Torrice: "If you really want an amazing race experience you can even buy pit passes that let you watch the races from the infield!"
Dan Torrice: "The infield itself is outfitted with its own concession/beverage stand and restrooms, so you can enjoy the whole race uninterrupted!”
Scott Wharton (HG): “What kind of attractions are there for young adults who are not auto sports fans?”
Dan Torrice: “Well, for starters, we have a 3-story complex that’s home to The Groove Music Hall on the ground floor, and the 118 Bar & Grill on the 2nd floor.”
Dan Torrice: “On the 3rd floor is our exclusive executive suites available for private use, corporate events and more."
Dan Torrice: "The third floor also has the broadcaster’s booth, our venue offices, and a green room for any featured talent.”
Dan Torrice: “There’s plenty to do around Dominion Raceway & Entertainment for folks who aren’t fans of auto sports!”
Dan Torrice: “For those looking for fun, there is a high-speed go-kart track where you can drive on a NASCAR rated surface in go-karts capable of exceeding speeds of 55mph!”
Dan Torrice: “In October we have what’s called Zombie Escape. We outfit school buses with paintball guns and you ride around the road course, stopping at different scenes to annihilate zombies, its a great time for everyone!”
Dan Torrice: “This past December for Christmas we changed the scenes to reflect holiday themes and our zombie actors were dressed as Santa and his elves.”
Scott Wharton (HG): “What is the Groove Music Hall?”
Dan Torrice: “The Groove Music Hall is a top-notch live music and event facility featuring a large stage and fully-stocked bar.”
Dan Torrice: “It's one of the top music venues in the Fredericksburg region. We offer affordable ticket prices, host a diverse variety of well-known touring music acts from all over the country, and are constantly searching for the next big thing to bring to the racetrack!”
Dan Torrice: “A new development at The Groove Music Hall is that we are utilizing our extra space to brew our own craft beer in-house."
Dan Torrice: "We also have a new event series “Live & Local Fridays” that will be starting in February.”
Dan Torrice: “We always have great local and regional bands every Friday night jamming out great tunes."
Dan Torrice: "At The Groove Music Hall we think it’s really important to foster a local music scene and give local bands a stage to shine on!”
Dan Torrice: “That’s just music though. The Groove Music Hall hosts other events like wrestling, private events, and banquets too.”
Scott Wharton (HG): “With the absence of Celebrate Virginia, how does Dominion Raceway and Entertainment plan to fill the void for large audience entertainment in the region?”
Dan Torrice: “That’s an excellent question! Honestly, I’m very excited because we just recently installed a new stage in the infield of the oval track."
Dan Torrice: "We will be doing live music events with this stage and the infield facilities this upcoming spring as part of our premiere “The Groove Outdoors” event series.”
Dan Torrice: “With this new set-up, we will have room for five thousand spectators – three thousand in the stands, two thousand at the track!"
Dan Torrice: "You won’t have to worry about rolling around in a mud hole and you can walk right up to 118 Bar & Grill after the concert!”
Dan Torrice: “Our event management team is currently talking to some regional and national agencies that are looking to bring in some big acts to fill the void left by Celebrate Virginia. This includes trying to coordinate and book a few music festivals this year featuring rock and country.”
Scott Wharton (HG): “With such a diverse demographic in the area, what do you offer to attract the widest range of people?”
Dan Torrice: “Like I said we have events for people of all ages and backgrounds, a fully equipped bar that’s about to begin crafting their own beer, and music of all different genres- Rap, Rock, Country, Christian and much more!"
Dan Torrice: "We don’t discriminate down at Dominion Raceway & Entertainment.”
Dan Torrice: “We cater to everyone, including our talent. At Dominion Raceway we have an artist and fan-friendly environment!”
Scott Wharton (HG): “The Fredericksburg area is rapidly on the rise. Where do you see Dominion Raceway and Entertainment fitting into the growth?”
Dan Torrice: “We’re already established in the Thornburg area of Spotsylvania, nestled just a few miles down the highway from Fredericksburg and only a short 35-minute drive north from Richmond. This area is just now starting to hit massive growth."
Dan Torrice: “They just re-did the I-95 ramps here at exit 118 and now they’ve approved a $20M dollar infrastructure plan to widen nearby Mudd Tavern road. We believe we’re on the same growth trajectory as the region with all that’s going on around us and we’re excited to be a part of the local culture as it blossoms.”
Scott Wharton (HG): “It’s a new year. What’s in store for 2020? What should we keep our eyes open for?”
Dan Torrice: “The racers are excited for starters. They’re gearing up and getting ready to come down here and experience our track."
Dan Torrice: "It’s a driver favorite on the circuit, not just because of the track, but because of the atmosphere of our racing experience and our accommodations at the racetrack.”
Dan Torrice: “I’m personally very excited about all the music that’ll be performed on our 3 stages."
Dan Torrice: "We got so many music events planned including Live & Local Friday Nights at 118 Bar & Grill, as well as a variety of great shows lined up to perform at The Groove Music Hall, not to mention the addition of our new outdoor stage.”
Dan Torrice: “People should also keep their eyes open for upcoming comedy events at The Groove Music Hall and The Groove Outdoors, we’re looking to bring in some big national acts and feature the region’s top local talent.”
Dan Torrice: “It’s bound to be a great year at Dominion Raceway & Entertainment for sure!”
Scott Wharton (HG): “Wow Dan, that’s a lot to look out for! Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you’d like to add?”
Dan Torrice: “I think we about covered it all but one thing I didn’t mention that I know you’d personally love is our track staple burger.”
Dan Torrice: “Each track in the regional racing circuit has a signature plate, and ours is the “Peanut Butter Maple Bacon Burger”.”
Dan Torrice: “You should make sure to get down there and try one Scott!”
Scott Wharton (HG): “I’m gonna have to take you up on that burger... The name makes me salivate honestly!”
Scott Wharton (HG): “Thank you again for your time Mr. Torrice, I look forward to seeing what Dominion Raceway is all about, and getting my hands on one of those Peanut Butter Maple Bacon Burgers!”
From the sounds of it, there is more going on at Dominion Raceway & Entertainment than just racing. It’s a shame that not many people in the area are unaware of the full opportunities that Dominion Raceway & Entertainment provides.
I know first hand myself how fun Dominion Raceway can be on both sides of the track!
In October 2018 I worked at the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ event as one of the zombie actors. I spent my weekends all throughout the month of October getting pelted with paintballs, and helping put on a show for the families while bonding with my fellow zombies on the infield of the road course. Good times!
This past November, I attended a show at The Groove Music Hall, featuring performances from well-known local/regional artists Zye Young, Mike Willis, and Nappy Roots.
Everyone I knew was there from my dad and his best pals to me with my circle of friends. I even managed to convince a few buddies to visit from out of town! It was truly an amazing night and everyone was having a good time... I look forward to more memories like these!
If everything goes according to plan, then the raceway should become one of the most popular spots in town this upcoming Spring and Summer! Especially if they are focused on providing a diverse range of events that cater to everybody and not just the auto sports community.
I am most excited about the possibility of music festivals being hosted right here in our backyard. I can’t wait to personally experience the brand new outdoor stage that Dan hyped up in all its glory.
Dominion Raceway & Entertainment is clearly poised to become a staple in the region for years to come, especially with the venue’s focus on providing fun activities year-round for visitors of all ages. Another sign is the adjacent growth of the Thornburg area itself which now has a strip mall full of stores, multiple gas stations, and who knows what next…
Dominion Raceway & Entertainment is just another monument testifying to the growing creative & recreational capital that Fredericksburg is transforming into!
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Scott Wharton is a stand-up comedian from Fredericksburg Virginia.
Scott is a writer and team member for Hoodie Goodies. Scott contributes articles each month to the Hoodie Goodies blog!
When he is not busy doing comedy or writing, Scott prefers to explore the country on a Greyhound bus or exploring his mind with entheogenic substances.
He is always accompanied by his dog Bo.
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