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Civil War Reenactors During Commonwealth 100 At Virginia Motor Spwy


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Civil War Reenactors Will Energize Pre- And Post-Race Scene During This Weekend's Commonwealth 100 At Virginia Motor Speedway


JAMAICA, VA - April 13, 2010 - The throaty roar of dirt Late Models won't be the only adrenalin-pumping noise that shakes the Virginia Motor Speedway grandstand during this weekend's inaugural Commonwealth 100.


Cover your ears, fans and competitors – costumed Civil War reenactors are returning to the half-mile oval to send off the starting field with piercing cannon blasts and greet the winner of the biggest race in track history with a flurry of revolver and rifle fire.


Reprising the unique pre- and post-race ceremonies that punctuated last year's World of Outlaws Late Model Series program at VMS, reenactors dressed in both Union and Confederate uniforms will provide fans an exciting added attraction themed on the rich history of the area surrounding Bill Sawyer's gorgeous dirt track.


At least a half-dozen members of a Virginia-based Civil War reenactment group that portrays the 3rd Company Richmond Howitzers – one of the two most famous artillery units on the Southern side of the war – will participate in activities surrounding the final night of the Commonwealth 100 weekend on Saturday (April 17). Time trials and heat races for the $25,000-to-win event are scheduled for Friday night (April 16).


"We really enjoy being part of the show at Virginia Motor Speedway," said Keith Saunders, one of the reenactors who will return after performing at the track for the first time last year. "We're all race fans, so having a chance to do this is exciting for us."


Saunders will bring along the centerpiece of the reenactor group's pre-race routine: a powerful 1841 six-pound, smooth-bore cannon. A reproduction of the gun type that was used during the early stages of the Civil War, the cannon will be rolled onto pit road during driver introductions on Saturday night and prepared for blast-off by the reenactors.


Expect the grandstand and surrounding countryside to reverberate with an ear-splitting explosion when the cannon is ignited. Anyone unaware of the impending explosion will have their heart skip a beat. Just ask Chris Madden of Gaffney, S.C., who won last year's WoO LMS A-Main at VMS.


"When we first rolled out on the track and I was lining up, that big cannon shot off and I went, 'Holy crap!'" said Madden, who is on the pre-registration list for this weekend's Commonwealth 100. "I jumped in my seat."


The interesting reception that Madden received in Victory Lane will also be duplicated following the Commonwealth 100. After climbing out of his car he was flanked by the costumed soldiers, had a Civil War general's hat placed on his head and was feted by waving flags and loud, smoky gunfire from the reenactors' authentic guns.


Saunders even jumped in on Madden's post-race interview, grabbing the wireless microphone and asking, "Where you from, boy?" When Madden answered that he hailed from South Carolina, Saunders, dressed in his Southern grays, said, "Then the Confederate gold is safe!"


The accomplished Madden thoroughly enjoyed his Victory Lane appearance one year ago.


"That was pretty cool," said Madden, who enters this weekend's action as a favorite for Commonwealth 100 glory having won in his last two appearances at VMS spanning the 2008 and 2009 season. "I’ve never seen anything like that before. That kind of stuff makes winning a race even more fun."


The historical tie-in of the reenactors to VMS comes because Virginia was at the center of America’s Civil War from 1861-1865. The city of Richmond, which sits less than a hour’s drive west of Virginia Motor Speedway, served as the capital of the Confederacy throughout the conflict, and the countryside slightly west of the track – stretching from Washington, D.C., through Richmond to Petersburg, Va. – and east of the Blue Ridge Mountains was the site of fierce fighting that took the lives of thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers.


The area immediately around Virginia Motor Speedway itself harbors many historic Civil War sites, including the nearby Rappahannock River. Waterways like the Rappahannock in Virginia’s Tidewater Region played key strategic roles in the war, and there was ample troop movement on the ground near VMS throughout the conflict.


More than 60 drivers have entered or made plans to compete in the Commonwealth 100, which kicks off with time trials and qualifying heats on Fri., April 16. B-Mains, a 30-lap Non-Qualifiers' Race paying and the headline 100-lapper take center stage on Sat., April 17. A raindate of Sun., April 18, has been established for the event.


Competitor gates will open each day at 3 p.m. and spectator gates will be unlocked at 4 p.m. There will be a BB&T 'Meet and Greet' autograph session with the WoO LMS drivers from 5-6 p.m. on Saturday, and on-track activities will begin both days at about 6:30 p.m. with hot laps.


Boasting the third-largest first-place check of the season on the WoO LMS, the Commonwealth 100 offers $2,000 just to take the green flag. Add in the Non-Qualifiers’ Race that pays $3,000 to win from a purse of nearly $16,000, and the weekend's payout will be in the neighborhood of $125,000.


Fans from 19 states and Canada have ordered tickets for the weekend. Two-day tickets are $50 (adults) and $20 (children 7-12), while Saturday-only general admission is $40 (adults) and $15 (children 7-12). Kids 6-and-under will be admitted free for the weekend, and two-day pit passes will cost $50.


Bill Sawyer’s Virginia Motor Speedway is a half-mile dirt oval located on U.S. Route 17 in Jamaica, Va., eight miles north of Saluda and 25 miles south of Tappahannock. The speedway, which boasts spacious 8,000-seat aluminum grandstand, beautiful sponsor suites, Mucso lighting, a pit area treated with a tar-and-gravel mixture and over 20 acres of parking, is just a short drive from the Richmond, Fredericksburg, southern Maryland and Hampton Roads areas.


For more information about the Commonwealth 100, visit www.vamotorspeedway.com or call the speedway office at 804-758-1VMS.


Additional info on the WoO LMS is available by logging on to www.worldofoutlaws.com

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