City News: June 2010 Archives

Les Richter, former head of the now defunct Riverside International Raceway, passed away this weekend in Riverside. He was 79.

Les Richter

RIR logo

Post-1969 track configuration

Richard Petty, Bobby Allison

Winston Cup Series

Winston Cup Series

RIR control tower

Probably no one else is more responsible for putting both Riverside International Raceway on the map as well as expanding stock car racing beyond its southeastern U.S. environs in the early days of NASCAR than Richter.

From 1963 to 1984, Richter ran the famed Riverside road course, one of the most challenging stops on the NASCAR circuit. For several years, RIR hosted either the first or final race on the NASCAR schedule as well as various other major races, including the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix.

Through the years, the track proved its versatility by hosting nearly every form of racing, including CART, IMSA, INDY, F1, Can-Am, Trans-Am, SCORE and IROC (one | two; whom Richter was a co-creator). Its proximity to Los Angeles also made it a prime location for advertising, television and movies. It also served as a testing track for automotive (one | two | three | four) and motorcycle companies.

RIR, which sat on the eastern edge of Riverside, was sold to Texas-based developer Fritz Duda in 1984 with the last major race in late 1988 and the track officially closing in early 1989.

Today, the 600-plus acres of the former racetrack include homes, apartments, parks and retail uses as part of Moreno Valley's master-planned Towngate development. The largest parcel, on which both the grandstands along Highway 60 and the famed "esses" (one | two | three) were once located, has been home to Moreno Valley Mall since 1992 (view overlay image here). The track's southern end, where the sweeping Turn 9 once was, is now comprised mostly of single-family residential.

Prior to managing the raceway, Richter was a football star at both UC Berkeley and the NFL's Los Angeles Rams for nine seasons, where he was a first-team, all-pro linebacker. After RIR, Richter went on to be a NASCAR executive for nearly 10 years until the early 1990s, when he was tapped by Roger Penske to oversee the development of California Speedway (now Auto Club Speedway) in Fontana, which opened in 1997.

Richter's influence went beyond the race track, however. He was a long-time Riverside resident and was involved in several civic organizations, including the city's influential Monday Morning Group.

Photos: Riverside International Raceway



SCCA magazine cover
(view overlay image here)
After the last major race
(Earlier view | 2002 view | 2003 view)

Riverside 500
Riverside 500
LA Times
Grand Prix
LA Times
Grand Prix
LA Times
Grand Prix

More - City News: June 2010:
April 2012 | March 2012 | December 2011 | November 2011 | August 2011 | July 2011 | June 2011 | May 2011 | March 2011 | December 2010 | November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | November 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008 | February 2008 | December 2007 | October 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | April 2007 | March 2007 | February 2007 | November 2006 | September 2006 | August 2006 | July 2006 | June 2006 | May 2006 | December 2005 | October 2004 | January 2004 | December 2003 | November 2003 |

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This page is a archive of entries in the City News category from June 2010.

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