State's Top Business Leaders Visit Martinsville Speedway

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Clay Campbell gave Lead Virginia officials a pace car ride.

More than 50 of the Commonwealth’s top business leaders spent an evening of fun and music at Martinsville Speedway Friday while learning about the legacy and economic impact of the historic track.

The 2014 class of Lead Virginia spent the last few days touring Southern Virginia meeting with regional leaders and visiting businesses and cultural venues. Martinsville Speedway was the final stop on Friday.

“We are always excited when Lead Virginia visits the speedway. It gives us a chance to show off all the great things we have in Martinsville and Henry County to leaders from around the state,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “I think some eyes have been opened the past couple of days and I believe everyone was impressed tonight.”

Lead Virginia is a nonprofit and non-partisan organization that educates proven leaders about regional differences, opportunities and challenges across the Commonwealth.

Campbell talked to the group about the history of Martinsville Speedway and the economic impact the track has on the state and the region. The highlight of the night for most of the participants was hot laps with Campbell in the track’s pace car.

“This has been a wonderfully insightful visit to Martinsville and Henry County,” said Susan Horne, president and CEO of Lead Virginia. “We have covered the landscape of a great part of Southern Virginia and spent a great deal of time in Martinsville. A number of Lead Virginia alumni are leaders in Martinsville and Henry County and they are so impassioned about this community and what kind of transformation is going on here.”

Henry County Administrator Tim Hall is one of those Lead Virginia alumni. He helped coordinate the group’s visit to Martinsville and Henry County and toured the area with them.

“These are CEOs and upper-level management people for a lot of Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. It is essential they come to Martinsville and Henry County to see what we have to offer,” said Hall after the group had dinner at the speedway. “We have built some social capital with them; we’ve built some business connections with them. Hopefully in the long run that pays off for the whole community when they decide to relocate here or recommend that someone else locate here.”

The group was entertained by the duo of Wayne Henderson and Jeff Little, who performed their nationally acclaimed style of mountain music. Henderson, who is not only an amazing guitarist, but also a much sought-after maker of guitars and mandolins, was duly impressed with his visit to Martinsville Speedway.

“I’ve played at Carnegie Hall three times but I’ve never quite had the thrill I had a few minutes ago riding in the pace car,” said the 67-year-old Henderson, an avid race fan who arrived wearing a Dale Earnhardt hat, but was sporting a Martinsville Speedway hat when he left.

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