Amidst an ongoing debate about the current bridge between grassroots short track racing and the upper echelons of motorsports, particularly in NASCAR, one of the country’s most famous grassroots tracks has stepped up to help rebuild it.
This past weekend, Virginia’s South Boston Speedway announced free admission to the track’s season opening event this coming Saturday night, March 24 for anyone presenting a ticket or ticket stub from either the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race or the NASCAR Monster Energy Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice has been working at the facility for many years, and during that time has never seen the track do a promotion such as this one.
“We are excited because this is the first time ever that we’ve done a promotion like this,” Rice told Speed51.com. “I don’t ever remember, I’ve been working here for 30 years, and I don’t remember doing a free night. We’ve only done discounts and things like that.”
This promotion has been talked about for the past year, but the South Boston staff decided to that this was the time. While the promotion is strictly a South Boston operation, Martinsville Speedway has given the track their blessing. Though Rice and the staff hope to attract new fans to their race track, they also hope that it might entice some of their own fans to attend the Martinsville Truck and Cup races.
“We talked a little bit about it last year,” Rice explained. “Brooks Taylor from Martinsville and I talked about it going back and forth. We need to do some cross-promoting that we can do and have for the fans that the fans would be able to enjoy coming out to both places.”
Already the talk of the promotion has received some national attention, including attention from big-name drivers. This also includes one of the Virginia track’s most popular former drivers.
“I saw a tweet from Elliott Sadler, our famous bologna burger guy, that he was happy to see what’s going on. That was a neat thing.”
A big change for South Boston’s Opening Day this year is its move from daytime to the night in order to give fans attending the Saturday racing at Martinsville a chance to make the one-hour trek.
“We normally open up with a day race to start the year, especially in March. With the Trucks now running around 2 p.m. and Cup qualifying right after the Truck race, we are going on a regular schedule time of 7 p.m. green flag,” Rice stated. “We are hoping it will give fans enough time to come from Martinsville to here.”
Already fans have been starting to make plans for the drive over to South Boston.
“We’ve already gotten calls from people who are going to Martinsville for the Truck race and have said they will be coming to South Boston at night.”
As for the question of if we will see this in the future, Rice said that she and her staff will give their recommendation after all is said and done, including whether they would recommend it to other short tracks.
“I don’t know how to answer that question yet because this is our first time. I’ll let you know after the event.”
Racing starts at 7 p.m. Saturday night, featuring the Danville Toyota Twin 100’s for Late Model Stock Cars.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com