June 24, 2012; Sonoma, CA, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer (15) races through turn 10 during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

A Look At Riverside International Raceway


Before Sears Point, Infineon or Sonoma whatever you wish to call it, there was another road course in California that the cup series visited. Located in Riverside California, Riverside International Raceway was visited sometimes twice a year. The first race there was held sometimes in January before the Daytona 500.

Riverside was a 3.3 mile, 15 turn road course without a similar layout to the original Sonoma raceway. The first NASCAR Sprint Cup  race was held at Riverside in 1958 and was won by driver Eddie Gray. There were 46 cars in the field, the race was 500 miles and the winning purse was $14,220. The track was notorious for being dangerous and demanding on brakes. In the race in 1964, Joe Weatherly was killed when his car crashed and his head hit the wall (He did not have a safety harness or a window net in the car).

Richard Childress got his first win as an owner in 1983 when Ricky Rudd won at Riverside while driving the number 3 piedmont airlines car. The final NASCAR race was held at Riverside on June 12, 1988. During the race driver Ruben Garcia lost control of his car and went through a guard rail, fence and a concrete barrier and ended up in the stands. Luckily nobody was hurt but, it was the last time Garcia drove in Sprint Cup. The final race was won by Rusty Wallace driving the number 27 car.

Riverside was headed by former LA Rams player Les Richter and he sold the track to real estate developer Fritz Duda. Duda was once a turn reporter for MRN. While the fans wanted the track to stay open, the track was slowly torn down and turned into a shopping mall and houses. In 1992, the Moreno Valley Mall opened on the site of the track. The final remains of the track were torn down in 2003.

 

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