Monday, September 28, 2009

Martinsville memories

Martinsville Speedway Sets The Stage
For Stock Car Racing In Virginia

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Only two years after World War II ended, entrepreneur H. Clay Earles decided to construct a unique 0.526-mile dirt track from the Virginia red clay near Martinsville.

NOTE: TUMS is the sponsor of the TUMS Fast Relief 500, the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, at Martinsville Speedway on October 25.

Earles, who was involved in the track's operation for five decades, originally planned to spend $10,000 on the facility, but that mushroomed to $60,000 before the first race.

At that time, there was only seven to 10 acres for parking, accommodations for about 1,400 cars or approximately 4,000 people. Also, only 750 of the proposed 5,000 seats were completed. Still, on Sept. 7, 1947, despite the fact there were no fences, Martinsville Speedway waved the green flag on its first race – Modified Stock cars. Even thought Earles placed the paying crowd at 6,013, there were still some 3,000 fans who watched the event without buying a ticket.

Red Byron, who would eventually win the inaugural NASCAR Street Stock [Sprint Cup] championship in 1949, survived the track's first race, conducted three months before NASCAR was formed, and emerged the victor, collecting $500 of the $2,000 purse.

Earles always believed in taking care of the fans and the competitors. He viewed the fans as his customers and he considered them his greatest asset. Earles once noted that you “sell the customer a memory as much as a race.” If it's a good memory, the person will return.

It’s a philosophy still practiced today by Earles' grandson, Clay Campbell, the track's president. The paper clip-shaped track is now the shortest on NASCAR's Sprint Cup circuit and the only facility still on the series schedule that was a charter member of NASCAR.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bulldogs and NASCAR

Georgia football and NASCAR
- two religions collide

Mooresville, North Carolina, (September 2, 2009) - When agreed to become the sponsor of the TRG Motorsports No. 71 Chevrolet Impala SS driven by David Gilliland in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for six races there was one stipulation - they wouldn't be on the car when the University of Georgia plays home football games.

What happens when the religion of Georgia football weekend home games and the mass appeal of NASCAR battle for the hearts of racing and football fans - compromise.

"Georgia football is a big part of our fall weekends," said Daniel Eubanks, assistant director of growth, "The Rhodes' family has had season tickets at Sanford Stadium for over 10 years. Going to Georgia football games is our Saturday religion. When the logo was designed the Georgia colors just kind of crept in there somehow. It is tough sitting in the stands rooting for the Bulldogs with one eye on the TV watching the Sprint Cup team practice and the other on the field. Our compromise with the team was Talladega, which was a tough one because the Bulldogs play one of their big rivals that weekend, the Florida Gators."

"It was a different negotiation," said Kevin Buckler, TRG Motorsports team principal. "Usually you go back-and-forth over the details of car design, team uniforms, etc., but a football weekend was a new one on me. The Rhodes family, with as one of their portfolio of businesses, are huge Georgia Bulldog football fans. They did not want to sponsor the car when the Bulldog's played at home. We were able to get one race on a Georgia home game weekend and that is Talladega, which is an institution."

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pep Boys Auto 500 will be run at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, Sunday, Sept. 6 with the ESPN broadcast to start at 7 p.m.

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TRG Motorsports is based in Mooresville, N.C. The team fields a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry as well as a limited Camping World Truck Series effort and an ARCA RE/MAX Series team. The Racer's Group was founded in 1993 and has been competing at the top level of sports car racing. TRG's Porsche sports car program is run out of the company's headquarters in Petaluma, California. The team has the most wins of any team in the Grand-Am Rolex Series with 28, including the 2005 and 2006 Rolex Series GT championship trophy to go along with wins in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona (three) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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