Martinsville, VA - Martinsville Speedway has a lot to celebrate this year! It's celebrating 65 years of racing.
As Speedway President, Clay Campbell, says, it's easier to say what has not changed since the Speedway started. And that's the track's shape and the size. But they have made major changes almost every year since.
"It's pretty amazing where it started, and where it has come to and we have a long way to go," said Campbell.
When the first cars sped around Martinsville Speedway in 1947, an audience of 6,000 watched history being made. But 65 years ago, not even owner, Clay Earles, could have predicted the enormity this track would become.
"He was a visionary and he expected things to grow and continue to grow. But I don't think anybody back in that era would have imagined NASCAR growing to the point that it has," said Campbell.
Earles created a half mile track because of land restrictions and, at the time, there wasn't a need for a large track. But now, Campbell says that it makes this track unique.
Over the years, Martinsville has passed some major milestones. Including its first broadcast in 1952, and years later transforming the track into a stadium by adding grandstands and suites.
"We didn't have that many eyeballs watching what we've got. Now it's worldwide," said Campbell.
Just like the track itself, the cars and sport have also been through alterations.
"Used to the cars were made in garages, backyard garages and things like that. Now everything is very technical, very engineering type. All of the teams have engineers and hundreds of people making these cars," said Campbell.
And outside, neighbors like Mark Hill have lived through race after race. Since he was 8 years old, his family rented out their yard for parking.
"My daddy he used to do it. We used to park cars for a dollar a car back then," said Mark Hill, Neighbor to the track.
Now, it will cost you $20 a car. As for the Speedway, they say its success has hardly hit the finish line.
"We are no where close to being finished so I'd like to see the next 65 years have as much progress as the past 65 years," said Campbell.
This is not the only anniversary being celebrated this year.
This year marks a milestone for Dennis, 30 years covering the Martinsville Speedway races. Congratulations Dennis.