To celebrate its 75th anniversary, Martinsville Speedway will welcome fans to the track for an evening of activities on Wednesday, Sept. 7 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. To thank fans for their continuous support over 75 years, Martinsville Speedway will offer free Martinsville Hot Dogs, cold beverages, birthday cake, live music, iconic photo moments with the 75th anniversary logo and Martinsville Speedway grandfather clock, and track laps for fans in their personal vehicles. All activities are free to the public for the track‘s iconic 75th anniversary.
“Martinsville Speedway is home to some of the most historic moments in NASCAR history and every memorable moment has been filled with the cheers of our loyal race fans,” said Clay Campbell, Martinsville Speedway President. “To share our gratitude, we are inviting the community and race fans across the country to celebrate with us on the anniversary of our first race.”
Founded by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville Speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947, three months before the creation of NASCAR, with 9,013 fans and 750 seats ready on its original dirt track. On Sept. 25, 1949, future NASCAR Hall of Famer Red Byron won the first NASCAR race held at the Martinsville Speedway dirt track. Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR and inaugural inductee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joined Earles as a 50 percent partner on the track in the early 1950‘s.
Martinsville Speedway is the only NASCAR track to host NASCAR Cup Series races every year since its inception in 1949. The track was paved in 1955 and remains the shortest track on the Cup Series schedule at .526 miles. Its width is 55 feet with 800-foot asphalt straights and tight 588-foot concrete turns, banked at 12 degrees.
In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a “different” type of trophy for race winners, so the track introduced the Martinsville grandfather clock in Victory Lane. The grandfather clocks are manufactured by a local company, Ridgeway Clocks, as part of a historic tradition that continues to this day. Fred Lorenzen won the first Martinsville grandfather clock.
Earles remained chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Martinsville Speedway until his death on Nov. 16, 1999. In 2017, he was recognized with the NASCAR Hall of Fame Landmark Award. From Martinsville Speedway‘s founding, Earles believed in offering fans an exceptional experience for a reasonable price.
“You‘ll sell the fan a memory as much as you‘ll sell them a ticket, and if the memory is good, they‘ll come back,” shared Earles in 1998.
Clay Campbell carried on his grandfather‘s legacy by joining Martinsville Speedway in 1978 and becoming track president in 1988. Campbell, the longest serving track president in NASCAR, has led Martinsville Speedway‘s continued success at the track and the organization‘s active role giving back to the local community.
After 70 years of racing, Martinsville Speedway became the first major motorsports facility in the nation to install LED lights in 2017. In the fall of that year, Martinsville‘s Cup Series race was the first to finish under the lights at the track. On June 20, 2020, the first full Cup Series night race at Martinsville Speedway was won by Martin Truex Jr.
In April, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Martinsville Speedway unveiled a year-long exhibit honoring the track‘s historic 75th Anniversary season. The first-ever exhibit showcases many historic Martinsville Speedway artifacts including the first Martinsville Speedway grandfather clock that was awarded to Fred Lorenzen on Sept. 27, 1964, the last non-grandfather clock winner‘s trophy awarded to Fred Lorenzen on April 26, 1964, Jeff Gordon Helmet from his 93rd and final career victory (and ninth at Martinsville) on Nov. 1, 2015, and more.
To plan a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and view the Martinsville Speedway 75th anniversary exhibit, visit www.nascarhall.com/explore/exhibits/martinsville-75. To purchase tickets to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, visit www.nascarhall.com/tickets.
As Martinsville Speedway celebrates its 75th anniversary, the track will continue to recognize and honor its history throughout the year. For more information on Martinsville Speedway‘s 75th anniversary season, visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com/75th.
— Martinsville Speedway —