MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Racing fans near and far came out to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Martinsville Speedway.
Founded by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville Speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947. That was three months before the creation of NASCAR and the race brought 9,013 fans and 750 seats ready on its original dirt track.
Grandson of Clay Earles, Clay Campbell, carried on his grandfather’s legacy by joining Martinsville Speedway in 1978 and becoming track president in 1988.
“We were able to carry on his vision, his mission and he always wanted things to be perfect for the fans,” Campbell said.
The track was paved in 1955 and is now known as the ‘paper clip.’ It remains the shortest track on the Cup Series schedule at .526 miles.
Melinda Bates got her chance to drive their vehicle around the track on Wednesday evening.
“My heart’s kind of thumping. I don’t know like … I’m just really excited,” Bates said.
Following several laps around the ‘paper clip,’ Bates and her friends wanted to do it all over again.
“That was really cool. Didn’t y’all have fun, tell him how much fun you had …100%,” Bates said.
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.
Campbell said the unique trophy is highly sought after by drivers that hit the track.
Martinsville Speedway is the only NASCAR track to host NASCAR Cup Series races every year since its inception in 1949.
“Who would have ever thought that 75 years ago we’d be standing here talking and this in our background … nobody would have thought that,” Campbell said. “We anticipate decades upon decades going into the future.”
As part of its 75th Anniversary season, Martinsville hosts the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season finale on Thursday, Oct. 27 and penultimate races of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs in the Dead On Tools 250 on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 3:00 p.m., and the Cup Series Playoffs in the Xfinity 500 on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m.
You can find tickets to the races by visiting the Martinsville Speedway website.