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Paul Sawyer, a maverick who was part of stock car racing's development from a regional sport to an international phenomenon as the owner of Richmond International Raceway, has died. He was 88.
Sawyer, who had been battling lung cancer since August and also had diabetes, died at a hospital late Saturday night from complications of pneumonia, his son Billy said.
Starting with a small dirt track he bought with partner Joe Weatherly in 1955, Sawyer gradually turned the small "Atlantic Rural Fairground" short track in Richmond into a three-quarter-mile oval with more than 100,000 seats. Twice he tore up the surface, once in 1968 to pave it with asphalt, and then again 20 years later to create the unique oval that is among the most popular among Nextel Cup racers today.