Richmond Dragway crosses finish line with $3M sale to real estate investor

Richmond Dragway sold

For decades, the Richmond Dragway ran around 75 events per year at its track. (Courtesy of Richmond Dragway)

The family behind the longtime Richmond Dragway has cashed out its real estate, marking the final chapter of nearly 60 years of racing on the eastern Henrico site.

The quarter-mile dragstrip and its 72 acres at 1955 Portugee Road in Sandston sold in late December for $3.2 million. The buyer was an entity tied to Maryland-based investment firm Greenspring Realty Partners, county records show.

Johnny Davis

The seller was the Weis family, led by Johnny Davis, whose great-grandfather Pop Weis and great-uncle Dan Weis opened the track in 1964.

Davis had been running the show in recent years, up until its closure due to the pandemic in late 2020.

Davis began working at the Dragway when he was 16 as the announcer. After college he became its general manager, then in 2008 he and his wife Allison bought the business.

He said the track typically ran up to 75 events per year, mostly on weekends. Friday nights were geared toward beginners, while Saturdays saw some higher speeds.

“It was folks that had more invested in their cars and they were seeking purses and all that stuff. They were racing for bigger irons in the fire than just bragging rights,” Davis said of the Saturday crowd. “They raced anything from a daily driver to a purpose-built race car.”

When the pandemic hit and Richmond Dragway was shut down, Davis said he took some stock of his life.

“Being forced to close, I realized that I’ve done about all I want to do, can do, and made all the sacrifices I was willing to make running the racetrack,” he said.

“So I made the decision alongside some of my family that I was going to step back and not do this anymore. Nobody in my family wanted to take over and do it as their career. That’s why we elected to sell.”

For Greenspring Realty Partners, the Dragway deal is its second local acquisition within a year. In March 2021, an affiliate of the company bought 22 acres at 2401 Elliham Ave. in Chesterfield for $3 million.

The dragstrip is now owned by out-of-town investors. It’s unclear what their plans for it are. (Mike Platania photo)

As of press time, no work is underway on the Chesterfield plot and no plans have been filed for the Dragway land, which most recently was assessed at $1.2 million.

Multiple calls and emails sent to Greenspring principal Dan Flamholz went unreturned.

Selling the Dragway and officially closing the book on that era was bittersweet for Davis, as he recalled his family’s history in the local racing scene.

Before opening the Dragway, Pop and Dan Weis operated racing venues in other localities like Tappahannock, Emporia and Petersburg. Davis said his great-uncle also opened Lakeside Auto, which had gained a reputation as a speed shop.

A photo from Richmond Dragway’s early days in the 1960s. (Courtesy of Richmond Dragway)

“Lakeside was a hotbed for hot-rodders, people that liked to soup their cars up. (Dan and Pop) realized it’d be nice to have a racetrack that they could go to,” Davis said, noting that Lakeside Auto is still owned by his cousin Scott Weis.

These days the Davises work in real estate and, with Richmond Dragway closed, Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie is where most local drag racing is done. Davis said he doesn’t bring his 2012 Toyota Tundra out there – that’s his daily driver – but said his brother has a race car that he still runs.

“I love the sport, the people, the cars, all of that stuff. I honestly was just ready for a different challenge and something that would allow me to be present in my kids’ lives more,” he said.

“You don’t realize what you’re missing out on until you get a chance to slow down, and that’s what COVID forced us to do.”

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