At some race tracks, trophies are just trophies. That’s not to say that drivers don’t fight tooth-and-nail for trophies at every track they race at, but some trophies are just a little more special and a little more, well, different. As the NASCAR Nationwide Series takes the weekend off, both the Truck Series and the Sprint Cup Series head to the half-mile Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. And Martinsville is one of those tracks that offer a trophy that’s somewhat out of the ordinary.
You see, winners of NASCAR races at Martinsville are the recipients of grandfather clocks. It’s a tradition that original track owner H. Clay Earles began back in 1964. As long ago as 2009, said clock was estimated to be worth more than $10,000.
No wonder its a trophy that every driver seems to covet. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that drivers’ wives are little happier about displaying a nice-looking grandfather clock in a prominant location in the house, as opposed to a trophy that looks like, well, a trophy. I have to admit, a grandfather clock is more representative of a household decorative item than a trophy.
As a matter-of-fact, when NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin was having his house remodeled a few years ago, one thing he was, reportedly, sure to take into consideration was the location of any Martinsville clock he might win down the road. And that was before he even had one to show off. Of course, he’s won his share in the years since.
Hamlin won’t be in the Sprint Cup race come Sunday, as he’s recovering from an injury suffered in a last-lap crash the last time the circuit was in action at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, but there are a couple of drivers who have won what would seem like more than their share of clocks from the folks at Martinsville — Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
If those two drivers have all their grandfather clocks on display in their homes and they have them set to chime on the hour, I’m guessing it gets pretty loud at the top of the hour. After all, Gordon and Johnson have combined to win 11 of the last 20 Sprint Cup races at Martinsville, while Hamlin claimed ownership to most of the other nine.
But I’m sure they don’t mind the noise.