Martinsville Speedway is NASCAR's oldest and shortest track. The track is legendary for it's Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog and for the many records that drivers accomplished there.
September 7, 1947 - H. Clay Earles opened the Martinsville Speedway as a dirt track with 750 seats and a paid crowd of 6,013. Red Byron won the 50-lap feature for "Modified Stock Cars" and earned $500 out of a $2,000 purse.
July 4, 1948 - Martinsville ran its first race under a NASCAR sanction, in which Fonty Flock won the feature followed by Pee Wee Martin of Bassett. Va., Buck Baker, Bill Blair, and Tim Flock as 4,000 watched. Bill France finished in eighth place. During the race, a then 19-year-old Fireball Roberts was sidelined with mechanical problems.
September 25, 1949 - NASCAR's "Strictly Stock" division made its first appearance at the speedway and Byron won again in an Oldsmobile 88 with Lee Petty second in a 1949 Plymouth. Seating increased to 10,000.
1950- The speedway started running two NASCAR Grand National events races a year on the dirt track. The Strictly Stock Series was renamed the Grand National Series that year. The winners of Grand National race from 1950 to 1954 were:
- Curtis Turner (Oldsmobile) in a 150-lap 75-mile event on May 21, 1950 and Herb Thomas (Plymouth) for his first Grand National victory in a 200-lap, 100-mile event on October 15, 1950
- Turner (Oldsmobile) in a 200-lap, 100-mile event on May 6, 1951 and Frank Mundy (Oldsmobile) 200-lap, 100-mile event on October 14, 1951
- Dick Rathman (Hudson) for his first Grand National triumph in a 200-lap, 100-mile event on April 6, 1952; and Thomas (Hudson) in a 200-lap, 100-mile event on October 19, 1952
- Lee Petty (Dodge) in a 200-lap, 100-mile event on May 17, 1953; and Jim Paschal (Dodge) in a 200-lap, 100-mile event on October 18, 1953
- Paschal (Oldsmobile) in a 200-lap, 100-mile event on May 16, 1954; and Lee Petty (Chrysler) in 200-lap, 100-mile event on October 17,1954.
1952 - The first race broadcast from Martinsville Speedway hit the airwaves on October 19, 1952 and was almost the first stock car event to be aired. "I think Darlington beat us by about five weeks," said Hal Hamrick, who talked Earles and Bill France into letting him try the innovation, despite the fact they feared it might decrease the attendance. "But we had a bigger network. They had five stations and we had seven." Hamrick broadcasted while sitting atop a concession stand on Pepsi-Cola crates.
October 3, 1955 - Martinsville paved its track and Billy Myers won the first race on the smooth pavement. It was a 100-lap sportsman event.
October 16, 1955 - Speedy Thompson drove a Chrysler to victory in a
200-lap, 100-mile Grand National event. It was the first Grand National run on Martinsville Speedway's newly paved track.
1956 - Martinsville ran its first 500-lap Grand National race on May 20, 1956, billed as the "Martinsville Annual 500," which actually was the First Virginia 500, won by Buck Baker in a Dodge.
1960 - Martinsville built the first enclosed, air-conditioned press box on the circuit. It was first used at the Virginia 500 won by Richard Petty in a Plymouth on April 10, 1960.
1973 - The Martinsville Speedway joined the Motor Racing Network of Daytona Beach, FL, which now broadcasts its Sprint Cup events as MRN radio. MRN's first broadcast was the Virginia 500 on April 29, 1973, won by David Pearson in a Mercury.
1973 - Hollywood came to the track! The climactic race of "The Last American Hero" was filmed at the speedway, using live action scenes from the Old Dominion 500 on September 30, 1973, won by Richard Petty in a Dodge. "The Last American Hero," and was based on the life of Junior Johnson and included staged action during the month of October starring Jeff Bridges.
1976 - In the fall, Earles installed several lanes of concrete in the turns on both ends of the track to prevent pavement problems. The concrete lanes are still in use today. First used in the Old Dominion 500 on September 26, 1976 in which Darrell Waltrip set a track qualifying record in a Chevrolet. Earles stunned the racing world with posted awards of $100,000, the richest of any short track and above some of the longer tracks.
1978 - In March, NBC taped the 1978 Dogwood 500 Modified and Grand National race which was shown on its "Sports World" series. It was the first race televised nationally from Virginia, on March 12, 1978. Richie Evans won the Modified race and Sonny Hutchins the Grand National. Martinsville built a new press box and turned the old press box into the first enclosed and air-conditioned scorer's stand on the tour which was first used for a Winston Cup event at the Virginia 500 on April 23, 1978. The race was won by Darrell Waltrip in a Chevrolet.
1982 - Virginia National Bank became the track's first Winston Cup race sponsor, turning the Virginia 500 into the Virginia National Bank 500 on April 25, 1982. In that race, Harry Gant scored his first Winston cup victory in a Buick.
1983 - Goody's Manufacturing Corporation sponsors the September Winston Cup race, the Goody's 500, on September 25, 1983. The race was won by Ricky Rudd in a Chevrolet. Goody's remains as a sponsor at the track today.
1988 - The first live telecast was broadcasted from the speedway. The 1988 Goody's 500, on September 25, 1988, was shown on ESPN. Race fans cheered on as the race was won by Darrell Waltrip in a Chevrolet. On June 1, 1988, W. Clay Campbell was named president of Martinsville Speedway with H. Clay Earles becoming chairman of the board and chief executive officer. Additional seats were constructed.
1995 - An access road to the U.S. 220/58 bypass was constructed, as well as acceleration lanes from the pits and concession stands.
1996 - New seats were added in turns three and four at the speedway. Two rest room facilities and one concession stand were built and 50 additional acres of parking areas were completed as well.
1997 - September 28 - Martinsville Speedway celebrated its 50th anniversary with the Hanes 500 won by Jeff Burton. Additional seats were added to the Bill France Tower in turns three and four.
1998 - Seats were added to the front straightaway. Other improvements included 13 corporate suites, a new scoring stand and media booths. The 43rd pit stall was added, as well as, concession stands and restrooms.
1999 - The track built four additional suites as well as one pit road. 50 acres of parking areas were also added.
2000 - Construction continued as the speedway added additional seats, eight new suites, a press box, new concession stands, and restrooms.
2001 - Added garage area and tunnel were added to infield pf the track.
2003 - The speedway completed new infield care center, built a new entrance to track and constructed new seats in the first and second turns.
2004 - The track was purchased by International Speedway Corp.; The track was repaved, and work started on moving railroad tracks and installing a new catch fence.
2005 - Work finished on the relocation of railroad tracks and installation of the catch fence.
2007 - More construction as the speedway added the Champions' Overlook, paved the display and souvenir area, added a paved accessible parking lot for over 200 cars, added accessible seating in first and second turns, and completed paving and grading work in the campground.
2010 - An additional exit for spectators was constructed to reduce wait time as vehicles exit the property. Construction began on new, updated restrooms and concession stands to enhance the fan experience.
2011 - A new sound system was installed to ensure that each and every fan can hear the excitement that surrounds a NASCAR race.
2012 - Club 47, Martinsville Speedway's new luxury suite, opened and the track was featured on the international television show, "The Motorhead Traveler."
2013- History was made at the Camping World Truck Series' Kroger 200 when 20-year-old Darryl Wallace, Jr. became the first African-American driver to to win a race in a NASCAR national touring series since 1963.
2014 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made history as he won his first race at Martinsville Speedway. This was something that he had always dreamed of doing after his father, the late Dale Earnhardt had won multiple times on the paperclip.
2015- Jeff Gordon won the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500, his ninth career win, and last race, at the historic speedway before retiring.
2017- LED lights are installed at the historic Martinsville Speedway.
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