Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, VA – October 29, 2022
If you’re a fan of stock car racing, the Martinsville Speedway name holds a significant place in the history of the sport. If you haven’t visited The Paperclip to watch a race, it should be a must on your bucket list. There is no place like it.
At 0.526 miles long, Martinsville Speedway is the smallest track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. Founded in 1947 by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville Speedway is known for many things besides its unique shape. It serves a fan’s favorite dish, and race winners receive a legendary trophy. Currently, the track has a special date on the NASCAR schedule, and as the longest-serving track at the circuit, it has a rich history.
Martinsville Speedway held its first race on September 7, 1947, three months before NASCAR was formed. 9,013 fans came to the 750 seats offered. It was originally a dirt track, and on September 25, 1949, Red Byron won the first NASCAR race, held at Martinsville Speedway. Byron led 97 laps in his 1949 Oldsmobile in what was originally called the NASCAR Strictly Stock Series.
Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR and inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joined Earles in the early 1950’s as a 50 percent track partner. Martinsville Speedway is the only NASCAR track to have hosted NASCAR Cup Series races every year since
Established in 1949. The track was paved in 1955, with a 55-foot width, 800-foot asphalt straights and tight 588-foot concrete curves with a 12-degree incline.
H.Clay Earles didn’t like that the drivers destroyed the asphalt in the corners and had to repave it so often. He introduced concrete curves in 1976 to minimize the maintenance needed to make the surface passable.
In all, Martinsville Speedway has hosted 147 NASCAR Cup Series races, one race in its inaugural year and two races per year since 1950.
On April 10, 1960, Richard Petty became the youngest winner in track history at the age of 22 years and 283 days. Over 30 years later, Harry Gant became the oldest winner on September 22, 1991 at 51 years and 255 days.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the NASCAR Cup Series with 15 wins at Martinsville Speedway (1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 sweep, 1968, 1969 sweep, 1970, 1971, 1972 sweep, 1973, 1975, 1979).
In 1964 H. Clay Earles decided it was time for a “different” kind of trophy for race winners, so the circuit introduced the Martinsville grandfather clock in Victory Lane. The grandfather clocks are made by a local company, Ridgeway Clocks, as part of a historic tradition that continues today. Fred Lorenzen won the first Martinsville
The 2022 season marks the 19th year that Martinsville Speedway will host a NASCAR Cup Series playoff race and the third time the track will host the penultimate race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs — the round of the eliminator Eight (race #9 of 10).
Since the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs began in 2004, Martinsville Speedway has occupied three different positions on the postseason schedule; From 2004 to 2010 (seven seasons), Martinsville hosted round six of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Then, from 2011 through 2019 (nine seasons), Martinsville Speedway hosted the seventh race of the playoffs, and from 2020 through 2022 (three seasons), Martinsville hosted the ninth race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs – the Round of 8 eliminator , that will decide championship 4.
Martinsville Speedway is the third distinct track, after Darlington Raceway (2004) and Phoenix Raceway (2005-2019), to host the ninth race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Martinsville Speedway was purchased by International Speedway Corporation in 2004. In 2019, NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation merged into one company.
In 2017, after 70 years of racing, the Martinsville Speedway became the first major motorsport facility in the country to install LED lights. This fall, the NASCAR Cup Series race in Martinsville ended first under the track lights. On June 20, 2020, the first full race of the NASCAR Cup Series was held under floodlights at Martinsville Speedway and won by Martin Truex Jr.
Founder H. Clay Earles remained Martinsville Speedway’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until his death on November 16, 1999. In 2017 he received the NASCAR Hall of Fame Landmark Award. “You sell the fan a memory as much as you sell a ticket, and if the memory is good, they come back.” -H. Ton Earles
Clay Campbell followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, H. Clay Earles, and joined Martinsville Speedway in 1978. He was named president of Martinsville Speedway in 1988 and remains the longest-serving track president in NASCAR.
When the Cup Series race takes the green flag just after 2 p.m. on Sunday, seven drivers will be battling for three spots in the Championship four field next weekend in Phoenix. Joey Logano is the only driver to have secured a place in the finals.
The race should be outstanding. It’s not too late to secure a ticket for the event. Get your ticket online at the Martinsville website.
Saturday’s Xfinity race offered a preview of what fans could expect. The fight for the grandfather clock was only decided in the third overtime. While hitting each other’s bumpers and door panels, teammates Ty Gibbs and Brandon Jones attempt to complete the green flag, white flag, and checkered flag sequence.
Gibbs took the win by destroying Jones on the final lap as they battled for top spot midway through turns one and two after taking the white flag.