How Wide Is The Martinsville Speedway? [Expert Guide!]

The NASCAR® Sprint Cup Series® goes down Sunday at the historic Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, a must-win race for the championship. The NASCAR® Camping World® Series® kicks off the weekend, too, with its annual Bud™ Lincoln Lincoln Night Race® on Friday night.

The track is famous for its uniquely expansive straightaways and the long, graceful curves that snake around the outside of the track. It’s also the home of the legendary Bobby Allison, who tragically lost his life in a racing accident back in 1979. He will forever be remembered for his indelible wit and charm, and his indomitable spirit that was as big as the track he raced on.

Here are a few fun facts about the track and its famous grandstand that you might not know.

Fun Facts About Martinsville Speedway

• The 1.25-mile paved oval speedway opened in 1947 and was originally built to host horse racing events. The name ‘Martinsville’ dates back to the 19th century, when it was a stagecoach stop on the Virginia Central Railroad. The area was originally known as Middleburg. • There are 349,200 seats in the grandstand, which, at one point, held the record for the largest permanent indoor seating arrangement in the world. The current record holder is the Florida Speedway, with an average attendance of 349,200. • The current parking lot capacity is 5,300 spaces. The garage and paddock areas hold 7,500 vehicles. • The track’s first paved road – Concrete Avenue – was opened in 1958 and carried cars, bikes, and pedestrians. In fact, the road’s opening was delayed a few weeks due to inclement weather. • There are 13 turns on the 0.897-mile track, including the tri-oval, which has been hailed not only as one of the greatest NASCAR® races ever but also the greatest motorsport track that was ever built. • The ‘Dollar Zoom’ ticket is the cheapest available to get into the race. It costs only $1. The ‘Dollar General Gift Card’ ticket is the most expensive at $2. • The Martinsville Speedway is one of the only two NASCAR® tracks that don’t use a runoff area to handle heavy traffic or overflow. The other is the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. • There have been 554 NASCAR® starts at Martinsville, with 234 wins, 83 poles, and 381 laps led. The biggest crowd was on April 19, 1964, when 120,000 people came out to watch Richard Petty triumph for the fourth time in a row. He led 79 laps and won by 26 seconds. • There have been a total of 462 fatalities at this track. The most recent death was that of Bobby Allison, who died on November 19, 1979, after a car accident. He was 45 years old. • The most prestigious award at the track is the Bobby Allison Memorial Trophy, which is given to the drivers who accumulate the most championship points over the course of the season. The points are awarded on the basis of finishes inside the top 10, with more points awarded for finishing at the front of the field. The driver who wins this prestigious award is said to be “the man with the golden arm.’” (The Sporting News) • There has never been a female winner of the ‘Triple Crown’ (Masters, Winston, and Truck races). When asked about this statistic, track president Steve Byrnes diplomatically said, “That’s a possibility, but very unlikely.” (The Roanoke Times)

The Track’s Shape-Shifting History

Before you go any further, it’s important to note that Martinsville Speedway has changed hands a few times in its history. It was originally built by Billy Henry and John Hill, who owned and ran the Norfolk and Western Railway. They sold the track in 1952 to Fred Hartley, who renamed it the Norfolk Fairgrounds Speedway. A year later, Hartley sold the fairgrounds to Bruton Smith and Carl Kopp, who renamed it the Smithfield County Fairgrounds. In 1957, Smith purchased the adjacent Hickory Speedway and merged them into the Smithfield Fairgrounds. Smith owned the racetrack until his death in 1973, when it was sold to Bruton’s son, Jack, and Harold Miller, who renamed it the Martinsville Speedway. • The track measures 339 feet from back bumper to back bumper and is 68 feet wide, which is 11 feet wider than a standard highway. This makes it one of the widest tracks in North America. • The grandstand and clubhouse were originally built in 1947 and underwent a renovation in the early 2000s. They were both designed by the Richmond architectural firm of Gentry & Smith. • The starting line and turnstiles were moved to the back of the track in 1965 and replaced by modern-day video cameras. And, of course, the entire layout was realigned – much to the delight of racing fans.

A Grandstand For The Ages

Arguably the most distinctive feature of Martinsville Speedway is its grandstand, which was originally built in 1947 and has been undergoing continuous renovations ever since. It is the largest of its kind in all of motorsport, and it is also one of the most recognizable structures in all of sports. It was designed by noted Carolina architect Albert Frey and features a distinctive white marble facade. The interior of the grandstand was also designed by Frey and is made of wood and steel paneling. There are 554 seats in the upper deck (with obstructed views), and the lower deck holds another 200 spectators. • The upper deck features four wide sets of staircases that connect the bleachers on the backside with the main concourse. These staircases were inspired by the four seasons. Not only do they serve as a scenic backdrop to the track but visitors can also make their way to the top of the grandstand and get some amazing views of the race.

The bottom of the grandstand features the famous ‘Dollar Sign’, which signifies the lowest paid spectator. When the final flag drops, this seat is the last to be vacated.

The entire grandstand was completely redone in 2001, and it also received a facelift at the hands of Hendrick Motorsports race designer Luke Smith. (The Roanoke Times)

A Must-Win Race For The Championship

This year, the No. 48 team of Reed Kazey and David Starr will be going for its fifth straight win at Martinsville. Kazey, who is from Pottstown, PA, near Philadelphia, has four wins and 15 top 5s in 68 starts. He last won at Martinsville in 2014. Although he is inexperienced at the 1.25-mile road course, Kazey has plenty of experience at the half-mile asphalt oval. This is his third year driving for Bully Hill Motorsports and he has five top 5s in 16 starts this year. David Starr, a three-time winner at this track, will be making his sixth appearance in the Bud™ Lincoln Lincoln Night Race®. He last won in 2016 and will be looking to continue the momentum from there. This season, he has 13 top 5s in 28 starts and is currently in the conversation for the title of ‘Rookie of the Year.’

If there is one thing that the last few years have proven, it’s that the NASCAR® Sprint Cup Series® is incredibly competitive. With the introduction of the Gen-Z demographic and the rising popularity of esports, the future looks bright for the sport. Perhaps with another Allison running around the track, history will repeat itself and the yellow and black will be on top again.

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