MARTINSVILLE, Va. – When the green flag waves for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 on October 16 at Martinsville Speedway, it will mark 31 years since NASCAR’s Late Model Stock Cars debuted at the iconic half-mile racetrack. The list of names who’ve won at Martinsville in a Late Model Stock Car is a who’s who among short-track racers.
Guys like Wayne Patterson, Barry Beggarly, Elton Sawyer, and David Blankenship all claimed victory. More recently, Philip Morris, Timothy Peters and Lee Pulliam have added their names to the list of winners.
“When they announced they were going to have a Late Model race in Martinsville, everybody on the east coast got really excited about that,” Markham said. “We had 120 cars show up for that first race. If you won that race, you did something.”
While Markham did win that first race, he almost never made it past the first lap…of practice.
“We brought the car down there and the first time out we were so excited to get the car out there and give it a try,” he said. “The first time out, the throttle hung wide open on me heading into turn one. Luckily, I was able to get it stopped before hitting the wall. That’s how the first race started for me.
“We corrected all the problems and we were able to come back and win that first race, the first Late Model Stock Car race at Martinsville, and nobody can take that away from me. I’ll forever be the first winner in a Late Model Stock Car at Martinsville Speedway.”
Markham would win three more times at Martinsville, before hanging up his helmet. Of those wins, one really stands out to him.
“I don’t remember what year it was, but Jimmy Hensley and I ran side-by-side, with me on the outside, for I’d say 15 of the last 20 laps of the race,” he said. “I ended up winning it. Jimmy, the great guy that he is, he wanted to race. He didn’t want to knock me out of the way, and we ran side-by-side for about 15 laps there at the end of the race. That was probably the most exciting one for me and I think it was for the fans also.
“That was probably the best race I’ve ever been in.”
While his driving days are in the rearview mirror, Markham is still active in the sport. He currently works at Joe Gibbs Racing as the shop manager for the Xfinity program. However, Markham is reminded of his Martinsville Speedway wins every hour, on the hour.
He keeps two of his grandfather clock trophies in the living room at his house.
“They make some noise,” he said. “Yes, they do.”
The ValleyStar Credit Union 300, on October 16, pays $25,000 to win and regularly sees more than 75 teams from across the southeast show up to make the 40 car field.
The day starts with three 25 lap heat races and a 25 lap “last chance race” to set the field, followed by the 200 lap feature.
Last year Tommy Lemons Jr. held off a furious charge from Timothy Peters on the final lap to win his second grandfather clock trophy.
General Admission grandstand seating is $30 for adults and $5 for youth 12-and-under.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
-Martinsville Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Martinsville Speedway