Martinsville Speedway has a special place in the history of NASCAR
Although Martinsville Speedway is neither the most popular nor the most modern track in the NASCAR championship, it still has a special place in the history of oval racing. It is the only original course in the championship, and it represents one of the first paved oval tracks in the NASCAR championship.
The shortest track in NASCAR
Located south of Martinsville, in Henry County in Ridgeway, Virginia, this Speedway was opened in 1947, founded by a local businessman H. Clay Earles. This is the shortest track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a length of only 847 meters. Martinsville is also the only NASCAR oval track with an asphalt surface on the straights and concrete over the four turns. The stands of Martinsville Speedway capacity can hold around 60.000 people, with VIP suites and a state-of-the-art press box, but plans for boosting the capacity over 80.000 seats is a long-standing wish.
One of the racing ‘paper-clips’
The track is often called ’paper-clip’ and is banked only 12 degrees in thee turns. One of the characteristics which made Martinsville notorious in the past was the existence of two pit roads. The backstretch pit road was generally avoided because, if a team had to pit there during a caution, any car going into the pit on the front stretch had the advantage of pitting first and not having to adhere to pace car speed upon exiting their pit road. This was changed when the pit road was reconfigured to extend from the entrance of turn 3 to the exit of turn 2.
The track was paved in 1955 and the following year, it hosted its first 500 laps race. The track was repaved in 1976, or more precisely, the turns were repaved with concrete which was an unusual concept in the 1970s. After 28 years, that concrete became worn and damaged, so third ‘facelifting’ of the track was made in 2004 when the complete track was repaved with new concrete and asphalt.
Video : Keselowski and Kurt Busch feud at the Martinsville Speedway STP 500
Richard Petty holds several records at Martinsville Speedway
The first NASCAR event at Martinsville Speedway was held in 1948, on 4th of July, with just 750 seats but with a crowd of over 6.000 fans around the dusty track. Twelve years later, the legendary Richard Petty became the youngest winner at this speedway and he is also the record holder with 15 wins here. Petty also had the most starts, most laps completed and most top five finishes.
Martinsville Speedway is now modern and safer
The rising speed of NASCAR events in the 1970s meant the old asphalt surface was struggling to hold up to the rigors of high-traction slick tyres, so in 1976, the course was completely repaved, this time with a concrete surface in each of the turns, which was quite an innovative concept for that time. The track was again completely resurfaced in 2005 and modernized with safer barriers. From 2004, the owner of the track is a French family who bought it for over $200 million.
Winner gets an unusual trophy
Apart from the Sprint Cup Series, Martinsville Speedway also hosts the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, while the Xfinity Series was dropped from the calendar in 2007. Starting from 1964, winners of the races at Martinsville Speedway receive a longcase clock as a trophy, a nod to Martinsville’s famous furniture industry.
The track record lap time holder is Joey Logano with the result of 18.898 seconds, set on 28th of March, 2014.
The future of the venue looks bright
Apart from the plans for the expansion of stands, this historic track has no need for any major reconstruction or modernization, so neither the track owners nor NASCAR should be afraid of this track being removed from the racing calendar. There are rumors about a potential night race at Martinsville, but in the early spring, the temperature in the mountains of Virginia might be freezing whilst in autumn, nights are fairly chilly.
Address: 340 Speedway Road, Ridgeway, VA 24148
Phone Number: 1-877-RACE-TIX
Official website: martinsvillespeedway.com