Martinsville Speedway is an
Speedway Corporation-owned NASCAR stock
car racing track located in Ridgeway, Virginia, just to the south of Martinsville.
At in length, it is the shortest track in
the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
track was also one of the first paved oval tracks
in NASCAR, being built in 1947
by H. Clay Earles.
The track is often referred to as paper
-shaped and is banked only 12° in the turns. The
combination of long straightaways and flat, narrow turns makes hard
braking going into turns and smooth acceleration exiting turns a
must. Martinsville's surface is unique, as it paved with a
combination of asphalt (straightaways) and concrete(corners). The
track was paved in 1955 and in 1956 it hosted its first 500 lap
event. By the 1970s, a combination of high-traction slick tires
and high speed were putting excessive wear on the asphalt surface.
In 1976 the turns were repaved with concrete (a rare concept in the
By 2004, the then 28-year-old concrete had
shown significant wear. On April 18
a large chunk of concrete had become
dislodged from the track's surface and caused severe damage to the
body of Jeff Gordon
's car. In reaction
to this, the track was fully repaved with new concrete and
Until 1999, Martinsville was notorious for having two pit roads
. The backstretch pit road was generally
avoided because if a team had to pit there during a caution period,
any car pitting on the frontstretch had the advantage of pitting
first and not having to adhere to pace car
speed upon exiting their pit road. This was rectified when pit road
was reconfigured to extend from the entrance of turn 3 to the exit
of turn 2.
The first NASCAR sanctioned event was held on July 4, 1948. In
1951, only 4 cars were running at the finish, the fewest of any
race held at the speedway. In 1960, Richard Petty
became the youngest winner at
Martinsville, at ; to date Petty has the most wins (15). In 1991,
became the oldest winner at .
It was Gant's fourth win in a row, earning him the nickname Mr.
Ownership of the track was a joint venture of brothers Jim and
Bill France, Jr.
, and H. Clay Earles
the majority owner, along with daughters Dorothy Campbell and Mary
Weatherford, and Dorothy Campbell's children, Sarah Fain and Clay
Campbell. In 2004, the track was sold exclusively to the France
family for $
192 million as a
result of an estate sale following the death of
Plans had existed to add an additional
20,000 seats along the back stretch, boosting capacity to over
85,000 seats. In 2005-2006 the Norfolk Southern Railway
track was moved 200 feet to make way for the added seats, but
nothing more has been officially mentioned regarding this by track
management since the sale of the track to ISC.
From 1982 until 1994, and again in 2006, the speedway hosted
events. This occurred
first with 200- and 150-lap features (200 laps for the two races
with Whelen Modifieds, 150 laps with the September Winston/Nextel
Cup race), then 300 laps from 1992 until 1994 as part of a Late
Model/Busch Series doubleheader, and 250 laps in the one-off in
venue was dropped from the Busch Series schedule for 2007 and a
race at Circuit
Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal was run on
the open date.
Currently, Martinsville hosts two Sprint Cup Series
races - the Goody's Cool Orange 500
in April and
the TUMS QuikPak 500
(race six in
the Chase for the Sprint
) in October - along with Camping World Truck Series
Whelen Modified Tour
held on Labor Day weekend under the lights, and Late Model
Winners of the Sprint Cup, Truck Series, and Whelen Modified events
receive a longcase clock
as a trophy,
a nod to Martinsville's famous furniture industry. This tradition
started in 1964, when Earles decided he wanted to present a trophy
that would reflect the Martinsville area. He chose clocks made
by a local company, Ridgeway Clocks
(now a subsidiary of Michigan-based
The clocks presented as trophies are currently (2009) valued at
The two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville seem to be
on solid footing, despite the somewhat frequent rumblings of the
track losing one of its race dates. As recently as December 2008,
Track President Clay Campbell said that no one, either from NASCAR,
or track owner ISC, has hinted at taking a race from Martinsville
and he plans on the sport being there in the long-term
Something else that does not appear to be in the cards for the
speedway is permanent lighting (the Labor Day weekend races take
place under temporary lighting). Although once a proponent to the
idea, Campbell says the NASCAR race dates do not justify running a
race at night, as temperatures in the mountains of Virginia in
March can often dip below freezing, and October is fairly cool as
well at night.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Records
(As of 10/21/07)
2005 DirecTV 500 Finish
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying: Tony Stewart, 19.306 sec. (98.084 mph),
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race: Jeff Gordon, 3 hrs. 11 min. 54 sec.
(82.223 mph), September 22,
- NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying: Clint Bowyer, 19.735 sec. (95.951 mph),
- NASCAR Nationwide Series Race: Jack Ingram, 1 hr. 42 min.
16 sec. (77.751 mph), March 25,
1984 (250 laps)
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Qualifying: Jack Sprague, 19.658 sec.
(96.327 mph), 2008
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race:
Rich Bickle, 1 hr. 47 min. 18 sec.
(75.296 mph), September 27,
- NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Qualifying:
Greg Sacks, 18.746 sec.
(101.014 mph), 1986.
- NASCAR Combined Modified Race: Ted
Christopher, 55.773 mph, 2005 (combination races only with
Martinsville Speedway Backstretch
- 1952 Tex Keene
- 1953 Wayne Alspaugh
Notes and references