|credit: NASCAR Media|
This week, NASCAR heads to Martinsville Speedway, which is also known as “The Paperclip” – a track that holds a few distinctions in the NASCAR ranks. Learn what those distinctions are and more about the history of this short track in this week’s Fast Facts.
- Martinsville Speedway is older than NASCAR itself: the 0.526-mile track opened in 1947 with seating for 750 spectators – over 6,000 showed up for the first race. NASCAR was formed in 1948, and in Sept. 1949 Martinsville Speedway hosted its first race in the series; it has been on the schedule every year since.
- In addition to being a charter NASCAR track, the International Speedway Corporation-owned track is also the shortest track on the schedule. The track surface itself is a unique hybrid of asphalt straightaways and concrete corners. Until 1999, Martinsville had two pit roads, similar to Bristol Motor Speedway; the pit area was reconfigured to have pit road begin at the entrance of Turn 3 and end in the exit of Turn 2, allowing for a garage to be built in the infield. In Oct. 2016, Track President Clay Campbell announced a $5 million LED lighting package would be installed at the track; the project was completed in Feb. 2017.
- Another distinction Martinsville holds is its unique trophy: a longcase grandfather clock, chosen by track architect and owner H. Clay Earles to represent the Martinsville area. The clocks are made by an area company, Ridgeway Clocks, and are valued (circa 2009) at approximately $10,000.
- Richard Petty holds the records for most wins (15), most starts (67) and most laps completed (27,891) at Martinsville, while Darrell Waltrip holds the record for most poles (eight). Joey Logano currently holds the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying record at the track: 100.201 mph (18.898 seconds) in March 2014. The overall track qualifying record was set by Greg Sacks in 1986 in a Whelen Modified: 101.014 mph (18.746 seconds).
- Martinsville Speedway president Campbell is Earles’ grandson. He has competed in the ARCA Racing Series and K&N Pro Series East in recent years, earning a career-best third-place finish in the ARCA Series race at Daytona in Feb. 2014, driving for NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader.
- Learn more about Martinsville Speedway at its website, www.martinsvillespeedway.com.