NASCAR Cup: Martinsville Speedway lights up
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
By AMANDA VINCENT
Officials at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway announced Wednesday that the oldest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit would be illuminated in 2017. Construction is scheduled to begin on Oct. 31, the day after the next Sprint Cup Series race at the track, to add 14 poles to support LED lighting in time for the 2017 season. When the construction is completed, Martinsville Speedway will be the first major motorsports facility in North America to have LED lighting.
“I think it’s great for the race track, and it opens up a ton of possibility for the track itself,” Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was in attendance at the announcement, said. “Martinsville is one of the very best short tracks in the country. It’s awesome, and it’s been a long time coming.”
The project is expected to cost $5 million and will be paid for by parent company, International Speedway Corporation.
“I would say I would love to have a night race here any day of the week,” Earnhardt said. “Short-track racing is what this sport was born on.”
According to track President Clay Campbell, though, the lights are being installed as an “insurance policy,” allowing racing to continue into nighttime hours after delays for weather, etc. There are no current plans for scheduling a night race at the track.
The 2017 season will mark Martinsville Speedway’s 70th anniversary. The Virginia short track is the only track remaining on the yearly NASCAR premier series schedule that has hosted races since NASCAR’s inaugural season of 1948. The track, the shortest on the Sprint Cup schedule at 0.526 miles, was built in 1947.