Dover International Speedway adding extra SAFER barriers

The start of the 2016 Spring Race at Dover International Speedway (WDEL/Sean Greene)

September 11th is a day to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place 18 years ago. In many communities, it's also become a day of action.

That's the case in Dover, which holds a special place in American history as the nation sought to get back to business in September, 2001.

The fall NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway came less than two weeks after the attacks. It would be the largest gathering of people in the United States for any purpose - sports or otherwise - that month.

About 130,000 fans were given small American flags. They never stopped waving them.

The race winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., took a victory lap with a US flag flying from the driver's side window.

The success was widely seen as a turning point after the attacks: that American were ready to start enjoying fun activities again and were not afraid to gather in large numbers.

Michael Lewis, now a spokesman at Dover International Speedway, was attending his first NASCAR race that day. He was a reporter for the Delaware State News.

"It was just a real remarkable day," Lewis said. 

For the 14th year, Dover hosts a 9-11 Memorial Blood Drive in memory of the victims and in support of first responders. It takes place from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the adjacent Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.

Potential donors are strongly encouraged to make an appointment in advance by calling the Blood Bank of Delmarva at 1-888-8-BLOOD-8. Walk-ins can be accommodated.

Donors who sign up will receive two tickets for the NASCAR playoff race at Dover October 6th.

"This is just a small token of what we as a track and we as a community can do to help," Lewis said.

"The September 11th, 2001 tragedies remain vivid in the minds of all who lived through it and experienced the immediate aftermath," Dover International Speedway President and CEO Mike Tatoian said. "Our annual blood drive is a significant way for the community to remember those sacrifices and contribute to an important cause."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.