Historic Martinsville Speedway is one of two major auto racing tracks in Virginia that hosts various NASCAR races throughout the year.
Read on for more on Martinsville Speedway, including its potential as a location where Virginia sports betting can take place.
The basics of Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville Speedway in Virginia is one of the most historic and fan-friendly raceways in the US.
In fact, it’s the only track from the NASCAR debut season in 1949 that’s still part of the circuit. Martinsville Speedway has held at least one top-level-series NASCAR race at the track every year since that first season.
Many fans and media outlets have long considered the short track one of the best facilities in NASCAR. That designation is due to Martinsville Speedway’s affordable pricing, as well as its up-close seating that provides intimate views of the tight and action-packed racing.
The track is located in the Virginia town of Ridgeway, which is just south of Martinsville in Henry County. It sits in southern Virginia on the North Carolina border.
Martinsville Speedway is nicknamed “The Paperclip” because of its unique shape with tight corners and long straightaways.
The flat oval is 0.526 miles long, which also makes it the shortest track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Drivers laud the unique raceway because of the driving skills and finesse that are required to conquer it. Since 1964 all NASCAR winners at Martinsville have received a Ridgeway grandfather clock to commemorate their victory.
International Speedway Corporation currently owns and operates the raceway.
The Martinsville Speedway record books feature many NASCAR legends. They include Richard Petty (most wins: 15), Darrell Waltrip (most poles: 8), and Jeff Gordon (most laps led: 3,779).
Sports betting at Martinsville Speedway
Although sports betting is not currently available at Martinsville, it soon could be.
After the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, the Virginia General Assembly legalized sports betting in early 2020. In fact, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made sure the regulations specifically addressed the commonwealth’s two NASCAR tracks: Martinsville and Richmond Raceway.
Owners from both tracks will be able to partner with a sportsbook operator. Once they do, they can then apply for a sports betting license in Virginia. If the Virginia Lottery approves the application, NASCAR and other sports betting will be available on-site at the racetracks.
Some popular types of NASCAR wagering include:
- To win outright: Choose the winner of an upcoming race
- Top 3 (and Top 5, Top 10, Top 20, etc.): Bet on a driver’s finishing position in a race
- Head-to-head: Choose from a variety of driver matchups and pick which one will finish in a better position
- Futures: Choose the victor of a major race, a season championship, rookie of the year, etc.
- Prop bets: Bet on various race- and driver-specific propositions, including stage winners, number of yellow flags, group matchups, winning owner, etc.
Even if Martinsville Speedway doesn’t immediately put its sports betting license to use, the first Virginia sportsbooks should be online beginning in January. NASCAR betting will be among the many offerings, so motorsports fans throughout Virginia will be able to place racing bets right from their mobile devices.
Also, when the first Virginia casinos open, likely in 2023, they will have sportsbooks that accept NASCAR wagers.
Martinsville Speedway track details
- Address: 340 Speedway Road, Ridgeway, VA 24148
- Groundbreaking: 1947
- Owner/operator: International Speedway Corporation
- Capacity: 44,000
- Racing season: April-October
- Surface: Asphalt and concrete
- Length: 0.526 miles (0.847 kilometers)
- Track width: 55 feet
- Shape: Oval/paperclip
- Turns: 4
- Banking: 12 degrees on turns and no banking on straights
- Pit stalls: 43 (each is 28 feet long, 12 feet wide)
- SAFER walls installation: 2004 (expanded in 2015)
- Parking: Free
- Website: MartinsvilleSpeedway.com
- Phone: 877-RACE-TIX (877-722-3849)
Martinsville Speedway features
Attendees can purchase a Pre-Race Experience to get access to the front stretch of the track prior to the green flag. The experience includes games, music, prizes, Q&A sessions with drivers and other NASCAR personalities, the pre-race driver introductions and more.
The SkyDeck Experience is a premium seating option that gives attendees an expansive view of Martinsville Raceway. The Skydeck also includes live pre-race music, a private lounge, drink tickets, special food options, sofas, drinks rails, private restrooms and more.
Get a VIP NASCAR viewing experience with this premium seating option. The climate-controlled suite on the front stretch offers the track’s best views, as well as comfortable seating and private restrooms. In addition to a full dinner buffet, ticket holders also get free snacks and drinks (including beer and wine), as well as priority parking passes.
RV and tent camping
Martinsville Speedway has RV camping and tent camping on-site for a fee. The speedway has a general admission section for RVs, as well as Champion’s Overlook, a VIP area. Tents are allowed in designated areas only. For a fee, the track also has the following services available for campers on race weeks: private portable toilets, RV dumping, and shower trailers.
Track Access Passes
Racing diehards can purchase track access passes for race day. The All-Access Gold Pit Pass allows fans to see final car inspections, pit box preparations, and driver meetings. You can also walk on the front stretch of the track, watch driver introductions from there, and even sign the start/finish line. Pass-holders must be at least 18 years old.
2021 Martinsville Speedway schedule
The NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the NASCAR Truck Series all make regular stops at Martinsville Speedway.
Following its debut race at the track in 1948, NASCAR’s top series made Martinsville Speedway a twice-annual stop. The famed Virginia short track had held a pair of Cup races each year since 1949, even in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic altered the schedule.
Martinsville Raceway again hosts two NASCAR Cup Series races in 2021. The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 will take place under the Martinsville Raceway lights on Saturday, April 10. Then, the Cup’s XFINITY 500 is scheduled for Halloween, Oct. 31. It’s a playoff event and serves as the second-to-late race of the season.
Officials have not yet released Martinsville Speedway’s 2021 race dates for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Truck Series.
Here is the latest Martinsville Raceway 2021 racing schedule:
Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021: XFINITY 500
- NASCAR Cup Series playoff race
- 500 laps, 263 miles
TBA: NASCAR Xfinity Series 300
- NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff race
- 300 laps, 158 miles
TBA: NASCAR Hall of Fame 200
- NASCAR Truck Series race
- 200 laps, 105 miles
The NASCAR Xfinity Series was a regular guest at Martinsville Raceway from 1982 to 1994. After a 12-year absence, it returned briefly in 2006 before the series again skipped Martinsville in favor of other tracks.
However, the NASCAR Xfinity Series announced its Martinsville return in 2020 with the Draft Top 250 on Oct. 31.
The NASCAR Truck Series made its Martinsville Raceway debut in 1995. Since then, the Truck Series has hosted at least once race per year at the track.
Martinsville Speedway has hosted other notable series over the years. They include:
- NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (1985-1992, 1997-2002, 2005-2010)
- NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (1989-1990, 2010)
- NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (2005-2009)
- NASCAR Southeast Series (1993-1996)
- NASCAR Convertible Series (1956-1959)
Martinsville Speedway history
When workers broke ground on Martinsville Speedway in 1947, they began the construction of what has become a legendary NASCAR track.
It’s the only track that has hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race every year since the division’s formation in 1949.
Local businessman and stock car racing enthusiast H. Clay Earles founded the track, and his partners included two brothers, Jim and Bill France. The latter became NASCAR’s founder a few years later.
Earles expected to spend $10,000 on the construction of Martinsville Speedway. But, ever the perfectionist, he ended up spending six times that amount to complete the facility.
Martinsville Speedway opened in 1948 with just 750 permanent seats – but more than 6,000 spectators showed up for its first exhibition race.
The speedway originally opened as a dirt track. However, it was paved in 1955 while also getting its trademark paperclip shape. The track has seen some major repaving projects, but the shape and personality of the racing have largely remained the same over the years.
In 1949, NASCAR launched its debut season. It was called the NASCAR Strictly Stock Series, which eventually became the well-known NASCAR Cup Series.
The sixth race of that historic 1949 season took place at Martinsville Speedway, on Sept. 25. Al Bonnell claimed the pole position in qualifying. However, Red Byron won the race and led the most laps in his winning Oldsmobile. He earned $500 for the victory.
With the race in the books and some profits on the table, Earles and the Frances invested in the track’s facilities and amenities, including a seating expansion to accommodate 5,000 race fans.
In 1964 Earles began issuing locally made longcase clocks to its race winners. The grandfather clocks are no longer made in Martinsville, but the clock tradition remains, and it represents one of NASCAR’s most recognizable “trophies.”
In 1998, Earles handed over his duties to grandson W. Clay Campbell, who presided over Martinsville Raceway even after the Frances eventually acquired total ownership of the track for $200 million in 2004.
International Speedway Corporation now operates the track. However, the improvements have continued over the years. A pit-road reconfiguration was completed in 1999. A major repaving and safety project was completed in 2004. Additionally, the track added a full lighting system in 2017, and seating was streamlined and reduced from 55,000 to 44,000 in early 2019.