In 2017, Martinsville Speedway became the first major motorsports facility to have LED lights installed; Still no NASCAR national series night race
Clay Campbell: “There’s lot of moving pieces to it. We don’t control the pieces.”
Martinsville Speedway has had lights since March 2017. It’s one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR schedule. The small 0.526-mile flat oval operated for 70 years without them.
In total, 19 light poles surround the speedway. At the top sits state of the art LED lights. When the lights were installed, the track became the first major motorsports facility in the country to feature the LED technology.
In 2015, the NASCAR race at Martinsville almost ran out of sunlight. Matt Kenseth took out Joey Logano and caused a lengthy delay in the race.
That delay pushed the race almost into the night. The problem was, Martinsville Speedway didn’t have any lights. Jeff Gordon went on to take what would be his final win in near darkness.
After that, Martinsville Speedway went to work on a lighting project. The 2017 race ran late as well with drama from Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. The lights were kicked on for the first time toward the end of that race.
The switch is ready, the new lighting is there and prepared to go.
Yet, the 2019 schedule has been released. Martinsville Speedway still doesn’t have a night race scheduled.
“We knew that question would come up. That’s typical. That’s expected and don’t blame you a bit for asking that question,” Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell stated via a twitter video in during a Q&A several weeks ago.
“The biggest thing you need to understand… There’s nobody that wants a night race here more than I do.”
“I think everybody in the business would love to see a night race here,” Campbell said. “I think NASCAR is interested in it; International Speedway Corp., our parent company, is interested. Everybody.”
“And I know you the fan would love to see it.”
“I guess where we’re going with that is it’s not as easy as pick a date, flip the lights on and let’s do it. There’s lot of moving pieces to it. We don’t control the pieces. So that’s the problem.”
Moving Martinsville race
Martinsville Speedway has other problems as well. There spring race was highly impacted by cold weather. To the point that the race track was snowed out.
In March, Virginia is a cold place to be. This event comes directly after a swing to warmer areas like Florida, Las Vegas, Phoenix and California. It’s not uncommon for the Bristol race (which follows the Martinsville event) so see snow or cold weather either.
The track president is looking to fix that issue.
“The second part of that is a better date to get out of the problems we had in the spring when we got snowed on.”
“We would love to swap dates with somebody. The question is who wants to give up the date and give it to us? Because most of the dates are taken.”
“It would take something that makes sense for the other track and for us. It’s complicated. I think everybody wants to see it.”
“NASCAR, we talk to them on a regular basis. They’re aware of it. They would like to see us in a different spot.”
“I’m not saying it’s not going to happen. We’re always interested in looking at various opportunities.”
“The schedule’s already set for 2019. The earliest it could happen would be in 2020.”
All-Star race at Martinsville Speedway
Stale is a common phrase when speaking of the NASCAR schedule. The NASCAR All-Star race has been glued at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the better part of two decades. Martinsville Speedway is open to the idea of moving the race to a short track.
“It would be cool to have it here. It would be a difficult thing to move. But, if NASCAR ever decided to start moving it around we’d be the first to start jumping up and down.”
“We’re not short on excitement. You put the All-Star race here, I think it would be a heck of a show.”
Martinsville Speedway flipped the light switch for the late model stock event a few weeks ago. That race was filled with so much drama that it took several red flags and multiple delays just to figure out who the winner was.