Thursday, October 21, 2010

5 Things to Do and See in Martinsville, Virginia

Home of Martinsville Speedway

A lot of NASCAR fans tend to get caught up in raceday excitement and forget that there are other things to do around the tracks. Sometimes, race fans don't always want to just hang around the track. I have not been to or visited all of these places but many of these have been suggested by fans or natives of the towns and states or even by folks in the NASCAR industry themselves! Others have come from websites or the chambers of commerce. So sit back and take an armchair road trip with me across the circuit...
 Special thanks to Tracey Wilson for sharing her Martinsville hot dog experience!

Martinsville Mazes
Distance from track: view maps
Few things say “autumn” better than corn mazes...and candy…but back to corn. What a better way to spend a fall weekend than to visit a corn maze?

The closest maze to the track is the Mountain Meadow Farm maze, 44 miles and about 58 minutes driving. This maze is open weekends from 10 am to 5 pm- great for families with young children who don’t want to take them out late in the night. The cost is reasonable at just $6 per person over the age of 6. View the virtual map*.

Over at Sinkland Farms, the annual Pumpkin Festival is going on through November 6th. The farm is 69 miles away from Martinsville Speedway, about an hour and a half driving. The festival has a wonderful array of activities for family-oriented fun. Hayrides, pony rides, carriages, pumpkin picking, and of course, the maze. Their corn maze is open from 10 am to 5 pm for families but if you’re looking for a spooky treat, stay for the Corn Maze After Dark from 5 pm to 8 pm. Admission to the festival itself is free and for the corn maze, it is $6 for ages five and up. View the map.
Note: I located these mazes using this website. There are many more if you’re up for the drive.

Philpott Lake
Distance from track: 26.3 miles, approximately a 46 minute drive. View Google map
It may be too chilly now to camp out but if you’re into the outdoors, you may want to plan a day trip out to Philpott Lake. The scenic man-made lake, which is pleasantly situated in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1948-51 and held it’s grand opening in 1953. The lake covers 3,000 acres and 100 miles of shore land. The park itself houses eight campgrounds, six beach areas, and nine boat launches for your recreation and enjoyment.
Be sure to visit their website for visiting information.

Virginia Historical Sites
Distance from track: view individual links
If you’re a history buff and love learning about the rich history of the South, you might want to take a journey through time and visit one of the sites or museums. There are quite a few scattered around Martinsville. Below are links to a few of their websites.

The Martinsville Hot Dog
Distance from track: 0 miles
State fairs have funnel cake. The movie theaters have popcorn. Hooters has wings. Martinsville Speedway has the Martinsville hot dog.

Nothing epitomizes a NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend at the half-mile oval quite like the Martinsville Hot Dog (Yes I know that the track is technically .526 miles but this isn’t about stats, this is about a hot dog). A greasy Southern-style heart blockage on a bun could be the best way to describe these race day delicacies. The red-colored wieners loaded with slaw and chili are a race day staple. To the skeptic, the red coloring that bleeds into the bun might be a major turn-off but to the dedicated fan, it’s all part of the experience.

And this scrumptious treat truly is an experience all it’s own. Dale Jr. has professed to eating 3-4 a day during race weekends at Martinsville and even the well-built health nut Mark Martin has confessed to letting the famed treat pass his lips once or twice.

Race fan, Tracey Wilson, got to visit Martinsville for the spring 2010 race.

“I went to Martinsville in the Spring after winning the tickets from Denny Hamlin's trivia.  It was a cold rainy day and I KNEW the race was gonna be rained out...but at least I got to try a Martinsville hot dog.  After seeing them on TV so much and hearing about them, I HAD to try one,” Tracey said.

tracey
“At the concession stand, I was asked what I wanted on mine....is there really a choice? Who gets a Martinsville hotdog any other way than with everything? The official  Martinsville dog comes complete with mustard, chili and slaw...”

The race was rained out that weekend and was run on Monday. Still, Tracey was able to at least have part of the experience.

“I think I had 3 before heading back to my car once the race was called.  So essentially, in less than a 24 hour period, I drove 4 hours to Martinsville and 4 hours back to have a hot dog.”

At just $2 a hot dog, you just can’t beat the prices. There are few places you can pick up a snack like this for prices like that so be sure to treat your taste buds next time you’re in town for the races.

Bizarre: Roadside Attractions in Virginia
Distance from track- view individual attractions for information. RoadsideAmerica.com map
Every state and many towns have them. You’ve seen them. You probably wondered “what the #*%^@?” while driving past them. yeah, I’m talking about roadside attractions.

In Virginia, you can see all the stars. You know, Elvis, Marilyn, Vivien..oh wait, you thought I meant those flaming balls of light? Well if star-gazing isn’t quite for you, then maybe you’d be more interested in checking out the dancing cow and pig^. No, I don’t want to see it either. Well you still have a lot of options. With the holidays approaching, you could pay homage to the godfathers of nut-cracking  by visiting the Mecca for nut lovers, the giant nutcracker head. Aw, come on, the rabid eyes and completely abnormal looking under bite are actually kind of endearing.

Whatever your taste for the weird, bizarre, off-beat, be sure to check out RoadsideAmerica.com for more attractions you’ll go..nuts..over.

*Credit to Google for the maps
^Note, a Google search returned this monstrosity but could neither confirm nor deny the actual existence of said attraction.

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