MARTINSVILLE, Va. (January 14, 2015) – There was a time during a stretch in the 1990s when Rusty Wallace dominated Martinsville Speedway like no one else. When his car rolled out of the hauler and onto the track, all stopwatches and eyes were on him.
Seven of the NASCAR Hall of Fame member’s 55 career NASCAR Sprint Cup wins came on Martinsville Speedway’s tight half-mile oval. He had an incredible streak at Martinsville from 1993 through 1994. He won the spring Cup race in 1993 and then reeled off three straight wins, sweeping the 1994 season and then winning the first Martinsville stop in 1995.
Fittingly, the final win of Wallace’s career came at Martinsville driving the Miller Lite Ford in the spring of 2004 before he retired after the 2005 season.
For the past decade Wallace has made a name for himself as a broadcaster, serving as an analyst on ESPN’s Sprint Cup telecast. But last week Wallace crawled back through the window of a NASCAR Sprint Cup car again, sharing preseason testing duties at Daytona with Brad Keselowski in the Miller Lite Penske Racing Ford. It was part of a promotional effort to bring attention to the long tenure both Penske and Miller have in NASCAR.
While he fared well in his driving return to one of the longest tracks on the circuit, the 57-year-old Wallace took some time to talk about the series’ shortest track: Martinsville Speedway. Sprint Cup racing returns to Martinsville Speedway on March 30 with the STP 500.
“Martinsville is so great because it’s such a small venue and you’re racing side-by-side and there’s a lot of beating and banging and it just keeps the fans so excited,” said Wallace, whose second career win came at Martinsville in 1986. “As a short-track racer, I loved it. It’s where I cut my teeth on the short track. And all these guys that are running at Martinsville today, all these star Cup guys, they grew up on short tracks, too. When they go back there they love it.”
Now that Wallace has a different view of races at Martinsville, from high above the track rather than behind the steering wheel, he has a better understanding of why it has been such a fan-favorite for over six decades.
“The fans can’t keep from standing on their feet most every lap because you are running so close and there is body contact with different cars almost every single lap,” explained Wallace. “So that’s one of the things. Some of the tracks we go to now-a-days are so big, so wide and the cars are so fast, there is really no contact, no excitement. But man at a place like Martinsville, you can count on it being that way every single lap.”
Tickets to the STP 500 start at just $37. Seats in the Bill France Tower are only $42. Youth 12 and under tickets in the Clay Earles Tower are $10 with teens 13-17 for $25 and adults only $57.
The Family Four Pack, which includes two adults and two youth 12 and under, start at just $90.
The STP 500 weekend at Martinsville Speedway is scheduled for March 28-30. The Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is scheduled for March 29and Pole Day on March 28.