The identity of the fan that climbed to the top of the Turn 4 catch fence during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway has been revealed by Henrico County (Va.) police.
53-year-old Henrico resident James Dennis was charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct. According to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report, Henrico police Lt. Scott Jones said that Dennis told police it was his birthday and he wanted to be on national television.
Dennis’ fence climb triggered a caution with roughly 70 laps to go in the race.
“He’s up in the stands and he’s waiting for his chance,” Jones said to the RTD. “When the officers are tied up on something else, when the officers walk away, he runs down, climbs the fence, all the way to top, starts waving, and he got his wish.”
Dennis has since expressed remorse over his actions on Saturday.
“I am deeply in regret of what I did,” he said to Richmond TV station WTVR after appearing in court. “I want to apologize to everyone. It was just stupid.”
He added: “I was thinking about it when I did it. I got hung up in the moment. Cool race. I guess we never grow up.”
In its initial statement on the incident, Richmond International Raceway said it would review its track security measures with the local police and NASCAR.
At the risk of stating the obvious, RIR and NASCAR are likely very thankful that Saturday’s situation didn’t go farther than it did. As USA Today writer and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan notes, had Dennis fallen to the pavement and then been hit by a speeding car, the aftermath would have been catastrophic for the sport.
Luckily, that didn’t happen and Dennis’ ill-advised escapade will likely be remembered as simply a bizarre footnote in an anti-climactic regular season finale.