26 Oct Martinsville Speedway – Celebrating 65 years of Racing History
This weekend NASCAR drivers are packing their bags to travel to the shortest track on the Sprint Cup Circuit; Martinsville Speedway. From the track’s paper-clip shape with long straight-aways to the Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog, this 0.526 mile speedway is truly unique. Since 1947 NASCAR fans have been tuning into races in Martinsville for the racing excitement and proximity to the action! This year Martinsville Speedway is celebrating their 65th anniversary, before tuning into this weekend’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 race, here is a quick history of Virginia’s historic track!
In 1947, H. Clay Earles built Martinsville Speedway before NASCAR was even an official sport. Originally the speedway was just a dirt track with 750 seats, but races fans were drawn to the track in crowds of over 6,000. The track’s inaugural race was on September 7, 1947 and was won by Robert “Red” Bryon. Once the NASCAR organization was formed, Martinsville hosted the sixth race in the Strictly Stock Series, which would grow to become the Sprint Cup Series. Martinsville Speedway is the only track that has hosted NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the division’s inception in 1949!
>As the founder, Earles was determined to make Martinsville Speedway a great destination for fans. Through progressive track improvements, Earles worked to create the best experience for visiting fans. In his words, “When a man plunks down his money, he deserves the best. You try to make him comfortable, give him a great show and make sure he gets his money’s worth.” Today the track has over 63,000 seats, VIP suites, state-of-the-art media facilities and a pedestrian tunnel below the fourth turn.
Earles’ customer-centric philosophy proved to be effective. According to the speedway’s Website, a recent poll of race fans revealed Martinsville Speedway was voted as the top bargain in all of Sprint Cup racing and is the track with the best view. Due to the speedway’s compact size, fans are physically closer to the racing action than at any other track. There’s not a bad seat in the house because fans are never more than a few hundred yards away from the excitement!
When it comes to records held at Martinsville, racing legend Richard Petty holds most of them. Petty holds the track’s records for most wins (15), most top fives (30), most top 10s (37), most starts (67) and most laps completed (27,891). Besides impressive track records, Martinsville Speedway is known for some quirky traditions, including unique trophies. The track’s founder thought it was time for a different type of trophy for winners at his track so he chose to award winners with a grandfather clock. In 1964 Earles awarded the first Ridgeway clock trophy to Red Lorenzen and the tradition still continues today. Another tradition at Martinsville is the Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog. The unique hot dog, topped with slaw, chili, fresh onions and other secret ingredients, has been a hot commodity at Martinsville for decades and is the top NASCAR concession item.
Get ready for some high speeds and hard braking! The combination of Martinsville’s distinct shape, minimal banking in the turns and long, flat straightaways are what makes racing at this track unpredictable and thrilling. At the April race held at Martinsville’s, 5-hour ENERGY®’s own Clint Bowyer placed 10th, so be sure to tune in this weekend to cheer on Clint and the 5-hour ENERGY® Racing team as they head back to Martinsville Speedway!