1. The racing
I love the racing at Martinsville because it’s true short-track racing. Yes, the track is narrow and it’s hard to pass. But it’s difficult in the way it should be, putting things in the hands of the drivers, not because the aerodynamics of the cars hamper passing. Can things get a little strung out? Sure, but that’s part of the game, and there is always someone racing someone else hard on the track, whether it’s for first or 21st. Drivers have to be confident enough to use the bumper and fast enough to back it up. I love it. The only thing I don’t love is that the laps always seem to go by too fast. Amy Henderson, Senior Editor
2. The trophy
What I love most about Martinsville is the trophy given to its winners. The locally-crafted grandfather clocks awarded to winning drivers and teams are the stuff of NASCAR legend, just like the track itself. Even experienced winners like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch can’t help but stand in awe of such a keepsake. Junior tweeted a photo of his clock right after he got it home. The only other trophy I ever saw him tweet about was the one he won at Daytona back in 2014. Mark Howell, Senior Writer
3. The train … and just about everything else
Last spring was my first trip to Martinsville. What I remember thinking and liking about it the most is the setting is such a throwback type of situation. We got there a little behind schedule, (about 2 hours before the race) so we were fortunate to find parking. And then, just the layout of the track and stands in between the hills, I was thinking this isn’t a cookie cutter track and I really, really like it. I also found it interesting that a freight train track runs right next to the race track, with trains running during the race. I was thinking they should sell tickets on flatbed and then stop and watch the race. It wasn’t the greatest race I’d ever seen on that day, but just everything about the place makes me want to go back again. Jeff Wolfe, Senior Writer
4. Worth every step
Last Fall at Martinsville, let’s just say, I wasn’t in the best shape to be an at-track reporter. A couple weeks prior, I started suffering from tendinitis at a go kart track I was a track marshal at, which made it horrifically painful to bend my feet. That, of course, made walking impossible, forcing me to inch forward like a penguin or something.
So getting to the shortest track of the year, hey, how bad can this be? Everything will be close and I won’t even be walking much. Eh, it was harder than I thought. Long story short, there were some tears shed and many hours spent strategically planning my routes to make sure I don’t waste any energy I had. Heck, I even went to Walmart on Friday night and bought a blue Razor scooter. That was a huge help getting from the Champion’s Overlook on the backstretch to the Turn 4 tunnel. Unfortunately, track security wouldn’t let me bring it into the infield, so that was a bummer.
When Jeff Gordon grabbed his big win, I forced myself to hop pit road wall to get to Victory Lane. There was only tens of thousands of people there watching, so I was really hoping not to fall or get stuck between the SAFER barrier foams. I pulled it off though. It maybe wasn’t the smartest move, but Martinsville was a phenomenal experience nonetheless and I gained a massive amount of character and drive after going through that. Gotta thank Martinsville. I’ll always have that experience to think about. Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
5. The tradition
Martinsville may not be the fanciest track on the circuit. The garage is just an enclosed shelter, and not much has changed over the years. But that’s part of the charm. It’s a track where it’s easy to imagine an earlier generation of fans enjoying the show and eating the famous hot dogs. It’s endured tragedy and triumph, and has withstood time better than most other short tracks, many of which have long since fallen by NASCAR’s wayside. There’s still a little bit of 1947 there as the 21st century steams along. Amy Henderson
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