Check back for more updates as the days wind down to events at Martinsville Speedway in March 2015. During Race Weekend, look for more updates posted here.
Tickets for the STP 500 weekend, including the Virginia Lottery Pole Day on March 27, the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on March 28 and the STP 500 on March 29 are on sale. Fans can visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com and use the interactive ticket map to pick out and purchase their tickets or call 877.RACE.TIX.
U.S. Army Herald Trumpets To Play National Anthem
The TRADOC Herald Trumpets are a fanfare ensemble of 14 trumpeters and a snare drummer based out of Fort Eustis.
“I’ve heard this group perform the National Anthem on a couple of occasions and they do an amazing job with it,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “I’m a big believer that the National Anthem should be performed in a very traditional manner and that’s exactly what you get with the TRADOC Herald Trumpets. I think everyone will be very impressed with them.”
Herald trumpets are elongated, about twice as long as a traditional trumpet, but play and sound the same as a regular trumpet.
The TRADOC Heralds are comprised of both soprano and tenor instruments. The ensemble produces the sound of a full-bodied orchestral brass section.
The TRADOC Heralds are part of the larger TRADOC Band that serves as an outreach asset for the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. Members of the band have passed a highly selective audition and are among the finest musicians in the Army band program. The majority of band members have studied music at some of the finest colleges, universities, and conservatories in the United States and abroad.
As musical ambassadors to many events every year, the Herald Trumpets are one of the most visible components of the TRADOC Band.
Camping At Martinsville Speedway Spring Ritual For Many
It is a springtime ritual for Timothy Forest, Catherine Taylor and David Laing: Make the 50-mile drive south from Roanoke and set up their tents in a far corner of the Martinsville Speedway campground.
They were extra-excited Saturday morning. They were the first tent-campers to claim a spot for the STP 500 race week. They were unloading their van and unpacking gear minutes after the campground opened at 8 a.m.
“We put up the tents today and come back on Thursday and stay until Monday,” said Forest. “We would love to stay the whole week, but we’ve got work and children. We might try to squeeze out a little early and get back down here though.”
Taylor, known as ‘Cat’ by her friends, was doing most of construction work Saturday morning while her boyfriend Forest, Laing and Scrappy, a chubby part-Chihuahua, part-something else pup, watched.
“They don’t know how to put them up,” Taylor said, preferring to do the work herself than put up with the help of Forest and Laing.
The trio of campers is part of a larger group that will return to the site on Thursday to officially begin their race week leading up to next Sunday’s STP 500. There will be at least six, one who has been coming for 13 years, Taylor said.
The four-night Martinsville stay is a highlight of the year for the group, which has a menu planned that includes barbequed ribs, steak, hot dogs, hamburgers and cold beverages.
“We mingle with people. We play cornhole and horseshoes Way down there is a spot that has karaoke,” said Laing, pointing to a location about a quarter-mile away. “And I love karaoke. I have the best time over there with those folks.
“You wouldn’t believe the people from all over the country I’ve met and they invite me in like they have known me forever.”
Angela and Dean Pruitt arrived early on Saturday also, setting up their camper for the 13thconsecutive year. They live barely 25 miles away in Danbury, N.C., but stay in the Martinsville Speedway campground for both races every year.
“Why do we do it? Oh my God, I love it,” said Angela. “It’s my sport and the campground is my place.”
The Pruitts have spent an entire week in the campground in past years, but returned home to Danbury Saturday for three days of work before the fun begins.
“There’s a group I’ve know the entire time we’ve been coming. We don’t camp side-by-side. We’re up on the hill and they’re over in the hollow,” said Angela. “But we all play cornhole together, walk laps in the campground, dance, sing karaoke and pull for Junior.”
Truck Rookies Get Some Martinsville Seat Time
Martinsville Speedway isn’t the type of race track that is kind to rookies. It’s technical. It’s physical. And it can be frustrating.
That’s why three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookies were at the historic speedway Tuesday, trying to get the best possible understanding of the .526-mile oval before they return in a couple of weeks for the Kroger 250.
Justin Boston, Daniel Hemric and Daniel Suarez took advantage of NASCAR’s rookie testing rule, which allows first-year drivers the opportunity to get a day of testing on tracks new to them.
Suarez, from Monterrey, Mexico, has several wins in NASCAR’s K&N East Series, a developmental series, and is also racing in the NASCAR Xfinity season this year. But Martinsville Speedway was something totally different for him.
“We have a race track in Mexico, the corners are pretty much the same size as Martinsville, but the straightaways are shorter and it’s older and very bumpy,” said Suarez, who is driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. “It feels very smooth here. It feels fun to drive; it feels comfortable to be driving this race track.”
Suarez quickly found out everything he had heard about Martinsville was true; that it was no Sunday afternoon drive.
“It is very easy to feel like you can go fast into the corner, but the lap times go slower. The key here is to be patient to go fast,” said the 23-year-old Suarez. “We are learning a lot so far. We have like 60 laps on the truck and we are learning every single time we are going out on the race track. I’m just trying to be patient.”
Hemric had NTS Motorsports teammate James Buescher on hand to provide Martinsville pointers, and he said his teammate’s advice helped the day go smoothly. He hopes a solid test will translate to a solid “home-track” showing in the Kroger 250 on March 28, the day before the STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
“This race is huge for me here at Martinsville. Growing up in Kannapolis (NC) this was always a track we got to come to and sit in the stands,” said Hemric. “Our team is based in Kernersville, so I guess this is a home race for us. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
Boston had a little Martinsville experience advantage on his fellow rookies. He raced in the prestigious ValleyStar Credit Union 300 Late Model Stock race at Martinsville three years ago. The biggest thing he learned from that weekend was Martinsville Speedway is a difficult track to master.
“I’ve raced here. It is a tough place and it’s definitely not easy on rookies,” said Boston, who is a teammate to Suarez at Kyle Busch Motorsports. “It takes a lot of discipline. You have to race the track as much as the drivers.”
STP 500 Flyover To Be Conducted By Bandit Flight Team
Race fans will be in for a show before the green flag is dropped for the STP 500 as the Bandit Flight Team will conduct a six-plane flyover prior to the race on March 29 at Martinsville Speedway.
The Bandit Flight Team is a group of pilots committed to preserving and honoring the history and tradition of the U.S. military’s aviation units.
“The Martinsville Speedway experience extends beyond just the racing action. When fans come here they know that they are going to be treated to a first-class day from the time they arrive until the time they leave,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “By adding the Bandit Flight Team to our pre-race ceremonies we are only enhancing that experience.”
The Bandit Flight Team is based out of Raleigh, N.C., and has performed at other NASCAR races, N.C. State football games, and the Raleigh Christmas Parade. They are led by Jim Kilpatrick, a former U.S. Air Force pilot and Vietnam veteran.
“The team is very excited about the flyover at Martinsville Speedway,” Kilpatrick said. “We are NASCAR fans and because Martinsville is close to our home base several pilots have attended the STP 500 as fans in the past.”