MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The oldest track in NASCAR history got a modern makeover for its 70th anniversary.
On Sept. 23, for the first time ever, cars turned left under permanent LED lights at Martinsville Speedway in front of thousands who came out to be a part of history — including Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, who enjoyed the late-model stock car action as fans. Dale Earnhardt Jr. even joined in on the action on Twitter.
The $5 million initiative — described as an “insurance policy” for late-afternoon finishes by track president Clay Campbell — was announced almost a year ago. Saturday’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 race didn’t begin until 9:15 p.m. ET, which allowed the crowd to experience the lights in all their glory.
“Fan experience is going to be top notch, and the other thing is the 4k broadcasting ability,” said Keith Guzy, account manager at Graybar, the company that designed, built and installed the LED lights. “We think the overall fan experience and being able to do the 4k broadcasting is going to be second-to-none.”
Colton Quinn, one of the engineers and designers on the project for Graybar, told NASCAR.com that the team wasn’t going to be satisfied until Martinsville Speedway looked exactly how it envisioned everything.
And he thinks the lights are pretty darn close.
“When we designed Martinsville, we went off a bunch of standards and made it right,” Quinn said. “A lot of what went into it was a lot of trial and error. It took about 15 iterations and designs. We ended up with a great product: cutting edge and LED.”
The feedback from drivers has already begun already rolling in, too.
“They’ve (drivers) said it’s better than racing under daylight, and there’s a reason for it. There’s a lot of thought behind it. There’s a lot of engineering that went into it. To make it right you’ve got to take your time.”
Although the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race at Martinsville on Oct. 29 won’t be a night race, on the off-chance that it’s delayed, Martinsville Speedway will be ready to flip the switch.
As they say, let there be light.