Earles’ Contributions to NASCAR Recognized by NASCAR Hall of Fame

Martinsville Speedway Founder H. Clay Earles was voted the recipient of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Pioneer, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a person who begins or helps develop something new and prepares the way for others to follow.” When it comes to NASCAR and stock car racing Martinsville Speedway Founder H. Clay Earles certainly fits the bill.


Seventy years after building the half-mile race track Earles’ work will be recognized forever, as he is the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2017 Landmark Award recipient, an award given for “outstanding contributions to NASCAR.”


"Mr. Earles' contributions to NASCAR are immeasurable,” NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said. “He was a pioneer in so many ways—from building and growing the sport to the fan experience at the track.

“I have been attending races at Martinsville for over 50 years, and the facility has always been among the most immaculately manicured, fan friendly and industry friendly, not to mention the exciting racing we have witnessed there over the past 70 years,” Kelley said. “We are honored to help recognize his remarkable influence on NASCAR, a legacy that continues to grow to this day.”

Earles, a local businessman and entrepreneur, opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, two years before NASCAR would run its inaugural season. He would serve as the track’s Chairman of the Board until his death in 1999 and always put the fans first and felt that no matter how successful the track was, it would never be complete.  

“Everything that he did was to improve this place year-in-and-year-out and I think that’s a philosophy we still have here at Martinsville Speedway,” current Martinsville Speedway President and Earles’ grandson Clay Campbell said. “He was a real stickler for detail and he wanted this place to be as good if not better than any track on the circuit.

“He recognized who was important and who made this place what it is, and obviously that’s the fans. I’ve said time and time again, if a man plunked down his dollar he wanted that fan to get a dollar and 10 cents back for what he gave. It meant a lot to him to give back to the fans, the competitors and the media.

“He was always on top of things and things he did back in the day are pretty much the norm now. So, I think he was a pioneer and a trailblazer as far as that goes.”

Campbell said he and his family are honored to receive the award on his late grandfather’s behalf.

“It makes us feel really proud,” Campbell said. “It’s just so nice that people recognize what he did for the sport of NASCAR as well as Martinsville Speedway and Martinsville, Virginia. He put a lot of hard work into this place and to be recognized with the Landmark Award is really special for all of us.”

Racing returns to Martinsville Speedway March 31-April 2.

This year the historic track celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The weekend starts on Friday with Virginia Lottery Pole Day and continues on Saturday with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race.


The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be in action on Sunday with the running of the STP 500.


The race is the first short-track race of the season and marks the series’ return to the east coast after the “West Coast Swing.”


Last year Kyle Busch became the first driver in the tracks storied history to win both the Truck and Premier Series races in the same weekend.


Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

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