On Wednesday afternoon, Martinsville Speedway held a press conference featuring luminaries such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. where they announced a brand-new lighting project. Martinsville Speedway will be the first race track in the country to be fully lit using energy-efficient LED bulbs. The $5 million project, dubbed “Light Up Martinsville,” will begin after the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at the end of the month. Completion is scheduled for January.
International Speedway Corporation (ISC) President John Saunders stressed the importance of the move.
“Bringing lights to Martinsville Speedway is something that has been a priority for us,” Saunders stated. “But just like Martinsville, we wanted the lights for this project to be unique. They had to be of the highest-quality for both the competitors and the fans.”
Martinsville Speedway Track President (and part-time racer in his own right) Clay Campbell is very excited about the project.
“To be able to light this track up when the sun goes down, that’s going to be something truly special,” Campbell said during the press conference. “Our fans have told us that they want lighting. We’re pleased to provide them with another amenity which will ensure Martinsville continues to be one of the premier destinations in motorsports.”
For Martinsville, this is not their first rodeo with lights. The most recent attempt was supposed to see the track lit up with temporary lights for the then-Busch Series’ Goody’s 250 in 2006. This was a replacement race on the schedule after Pikes Peak International Raceway closed and to make the Busch Series’ first visit to Martinsville in 12 years special, they were going to run the race at night. As a night race, the event was originally going to air on TNT. After the 2006 season started, the race was moved to NBC and NBC insisted that it would be a day race.
As of now, Martinsville Speedway has not given any indication of moving either one of their Sprint Cup dates to the evening. On the 2017 schedule, Martinsville’s two dates are Apr. 2 and Oct. 29. Neither current date is ideal for such a move due to cool weather. As a result, it is unclear when the first race with the new permanent lighting system at Martinsville Speedway will be held.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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Hopefully the willingness to make a large investment in this track is a sign that Martinsville isn’t going anywhere on the schedule for the foreseeable future. I know there are people that hate the beating and banging short tracks but they are my favorites because aerodynamics don’t matter and there is always something happening.
Now if only some tracks could remove lights.
Now if only some tracks could be bulldozed?
I wonder how they’ll use this to make the schedules even more dull.