H. Clay Earles to be Honored at 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductions

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BROOKS TAYLOR: Martinsville Speedway and STEVE REED AP Sports Writer-

 Martinsville Speedway Founder H. Clay Earles is the recipient of the NASCAR Hall of Fame's 2017 Landmark Award.

The award is given annually to a person who has made "Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR."

"It's a great day for Martinsville Speedway," Earles' grandson and current Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. "It's an honor for my grandfather to be recognized for his contributions in the sport by his peers, as a pioneer in the sport.

"It's a special day and quite an honor."

Earles built the half-mile speedway in 1947 and held the first race on September 7 of that year.

Currently hosting two Sprint Cup Series races, Martinsville Speedway is the only track that was on the schedule in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season that still hosts the series today. 

An innovator, Earles was known for putting top priority in the fans' experience.

"The secret to success in our business is giving the customer what he wants," Earles said before his death in 1999. "When a man plunks down his money, he deserves the best. You try to make him comfortable, give him a great show and make sure he gets his money's worth. And we've always tried to do just that.

"Your customers are your greatest assets and that will never change. You actually sell the customer a memory as much as a race. If their memories are good, they'll keep coming back."

In 1988, Earles named Campbell president of Martinsville Speedway and moved to Chairman of the Board, a role he would stay in until his death at the age of 86 in 1999. 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Drivers Benny Parsons and Mark Martin and car owner Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and Raymond Parks were inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Parsons, the 1973 NASCAR premier series champion, was the first driver first driver to eclipse 200 mph. Parsons, also a longtime broadcaster, died in 2007 at age 65.

Martin won 96 races across NASCAR's national series competition, including 40 on the Sprint Cup level.

Hendrick won 14 owner championships, and Childress 11 across NASCAR's three series.

Parks was the first car owner to win a title. He died in 2010 at 96.

Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles won the 2017 Landmark Award for outstanding contributions to NASCAR.

None of the living inductees was present for the announcement.