"The Magic Mile" Remembers 9/11
Like most Americans, race fans will never forget where they were on September, 11, 2001. As the nation remembers the 10th anniversary of that historic day, New Hampshire Motor Speedway reflects on what turned out to be a silent race weekend that September.
The attacks came on a Tuesday, just days before the scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 300 lap event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Throughout the week, the entire sports world went dark. Both the National Football League and Major League Baseball postponed games and for the second time in history, NASCAR postponed an event for something non-weather related.
The New Hampshire 300 was rescheduled for Nov. 23, 2001, the day after Thanksgiving. After the decision was final, track owner Bob Bahre personally drove around to campers who had arrived early to make them aware of the cancelation.
“I thought we should tell them in person and thank them for being here,” said Gary Bahre, the tracks president at the time. “I told them it was NASCAR’s decision, but we agreed with them 100 percent. We hated to cancel, but at the same time we had to think of the people, all the problems they have in New York. I think all our fans understood, and we honored all their tickets.”
A few months later, teams arrived at the speedway early Thanksgiving morning to unload for Friday’s race, which meant the holiday would be spent away from family and friends. Bahre made sure everyone that was at “The Magic Mile” had a traditional turkey dinner.
When the green flag finally dropped on that unseasonably mild November morning, it was Robby Gordon who raced his way from a 31st starting position to the front of the pack. With guidance from his No. 31 team, the Orange, Calif., native was able to capture his first checkered flag in NASCAR’s elite series.
Gordon would later donate all of the winnings from his Granite State victory to families affected by 9/11.
NASCAR will pay tribute to 9/11 this Saturday at Richmond International Raceway with a three-lap moment of silence. ABC-TV and MRN Radio broadcasters announcing the race and the track announcer will all go quiet from laps 9 through 11 at the 0.75-mile oval. Coverage for the race begins at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Several drivers will run commemorative paint schemes during the race as well.