MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Bruce Anderson didn’t get to make as many NASCAR Late Model Stock Car starts as he would have liked in 2016. However, when he fires the engine for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, he knows he will have a lot of people in the stands rooting for him…or, more accurately, his team.
Anderson drives for the Racing College of Virginia, the motorsports program at Martinsville’s Patrick Henry Community College. With nearly 3,000 students, most of whom hail from the surrounding area, Anderson knows he’s not driving for just himself.
“It’s huge for me,” Anderson said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself because of that. I feel like I’m the one who gets to represent the college and the team that works so hard.”
One of the most unique parts about the team Anderson is driving for is that it’s primarily comprised of students who are working toward a career in racing. While they are overseen by a faculty that includes Talmage Thomas and Denver Smith, who have decades of experience between the two of them, the actual work is done by the students.
“You get young people that want to pursue a career in motorsports, so they’re working so hard to prepare me a good race car, a safe race car and, hopefully, a fast race car,” Anderson said. “It’s really special to see the drive and motivation in their eyes. With the success we’ve had over here, we’ve had some great runs with the Racing College team,” it’s really neat to look in their eyes and see what success taste like and keep them motivated.”
For Anderson, one of the best parts about driving for Patrick Henry Community College is walking through the garage and seeing where people from the program, his former teammates have ended up.
“Another neat thing too is when I look up and down pit road and see people that once were students in the program and are now working for high profile teams,” he said. “One of our former team members works for Timothy Peters. One works for Matt Bowling.
“The graduates of the college are now working for great teams. That’s just at the local level. There are also guys that will be here in a few weeks working on a truck or a Cup car or as an official.”
The team only made four starts during the season, which makes racing in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 even more special for him and his team.
“Martinsville is such a special place,” Anderson said. “It’s small in size in the world of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, but it’s huge in the world of late model racing. The huge grandstands, a great field and great competition; it’s a really neat deal all around.”
“There’s a bigger storyline than just me getting to drive the race car. It’s a true team effort. We have a lot of goals coming into the race. The first is to make the race, but also we want to give these students an opportunity to get the feel of a big show, a big stage. It helps keep them motivated, knowing ‘this is what I want, this is why I do this.’”
The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 pays $25,000 to win and regularly sees more than 75 teams 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: James Price/Martinsville Speedway