The days of Martinsville Speedway fighting daylight to get their races to completion will be a thing of the past in the near future. On Wednesday, the track announced that they would be installing lights around the historic short track following the completion of the October 30th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
The $5 million dollar project, which will be the first use of LED lighting at a NASCAR facility, will be complete well in advance of the track’s 2017 dates, which will be the 70th year of operation for the track.
“I think it’s great for the race track and it opens up a ton of possibility for the track itself. Martinsville is one of the very best short tracks in the country. It’s awesome and it’s been a long time coming. This is a race that drivers want to win, because of the history and the unique trophy, and now the fans know that they’ll get to see a full race even if we have to start late,” said Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was on hand for the announcement.
Track president Clay Campbell made note that there are no plans to schedule a night race at the track in the near future, but that the lights will serve as a backup in case of a race running late or inclement weather, just as the October 2015 race at Martinsville did. With later start times in 2017 and beyond, the chances of races flirting with running out of daylight will run even higher, making the need for lights greater.
With Martinsville installing lights, just six ovals (Talladega, Dover, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pocono, and Indianapolis) and the two road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen do not have lights installed.