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Motor sport

How Many Seats At Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville To Reduce Seating Capacity

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell spoke with the Bulletin last week about the announcement the track would be able to host up to 30 percent of its capacity for the upcoming spring NASCAR race weekend. Campbell said they don’t think they will be able to get 30 percent and still maintain social distancing among fans, but he still expects a good crowd for all three races.

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Bulletin file photo

It was announced last week that, after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam further loosened COVID-19 protocols, outdoor sports arena would be permitted to host up to 30 percent of their capacity for events.

While Martinsville Speedway is still unsure how many fans the track will host for next month’s NASCAR race weekend, President Clay Campbell did offer some insights into the changes in a phone interview with the Martinsville Bulletin last week.

Martinsville Bulletin: It’s the final week before Martinsville Speedway will host races (on April 8-10). How are preparations going for the next race?

Clay Campbell: It’s exciting because we’re getting close to the weekend. Obviously, the nice weather we can get a lot done. I guess the real exciting part about the whole thing is everything we’re doing we’re doing it for the fans. That’s really exciting for everybody here.

It’s pretty typical from an operational standpoint. Everything we’re doing now is pretty consistent with what we’ve done in the past. The last minute details. As we get closer it really gets busy because we try to stay ahead through the months prior to an event, but as we get closer it starts really stacking up as far as things we need to get done.

So everybody is busy. Looking forward to a great three night race weekend in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be an awesome weekend.

It probably feels a little closer to normal for you guys, too, since you can host more fans. (Martinsville Speedway hosted a race without fans last June, and only 1,000 fans for three NASCAR races in October.)

Campbell: It does. If you look back at the last year where we only had 1,000, that was better than zero. But now with the increased amount of people we’ll have here, we’re getting back to feeling right with having fans in here. It’s nothing like the excitement of the races here at Martinsville and the excitement that the races themselves here provide. On top of that, you have the fans here to enjoy it, getting excited as well. So I’m really looking forward to it.

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Last year was a challenge, obviously for everybody, so finally getting back to this point, we’re getting there.

No, we’re still working on that with our governor. We’re very appreciative of Gov. Northam and the administration for getting to the 30 percent. I really don’t think we’ll get there, to 30, with social distancing and the things we’ll have to seat our fans. I don’t think that’s probably in the cards, but never-the- less it’s going to be a good crowd.

And for sure we’ve got tickets available for both the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200 on Thursday night, the modified tour, and the same thing for Friday Night, the Cook Out 250, for the Xfinity Series.

We’re still working on Saturday night with the Cup with all those fans, but never-the-less it’s going to be a good crowd for all three nights and it’s going to be pleasing for all of us.

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And it’s great for the area, number one. If we can get the fans back in here it certainly helps the economy in the area because last year it didn’t help much, but this year I think everyone is looking forward to the return of fans. And they spend money in the area and that’s the thing. And that’s the reason it’s such a boost for the economy at the times when we have these events. I think it’s something the community can look forward to, having fans back for part of that week.

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Some fans who bought tickets for Saturday’s race weren’t able to get in because of the limits on crowd size. Can you tell me how it was chosen who got tickets for the Cup race? Was it preference for out of town, or in town, or anything like that?

It’s a fairly complex procedure that we go through. Obviously the long term customers, they’re looked at. Obviously we had to displace people from last year, from the spring race to the fall race, so it’s different on how that works. Then on top of that we have to place them in the grandstand properly to adhere to the social distancing.

Our ticketing department, hats off to them. They have done an outstanding job. It has not been an easy process to go through but they’re still working on it.

Obviously, soon we’ll know what that number is going to be, but right now, like I said, I don’t think we’ll get to 30 by the way we’ll seat them. And that’s okay because first and foremost our goal is to have fans in here in a safe manner. We don’t take having 30 percent lightly. We’d love to get to that point if we can, but we don’t take lightly bringing fans in here comes with responsibility and we’re up to that task. Where last year with 1,000, protocols we have in place, things that we do from regulations from the CDC, from the Department of Health, state and local, we worked well with them as well as NASCAR to do everything properly.

And like I said we want to get fans in here to enjoy it, do it safely, so they can come back in November of this year.

You all also announced last week a partnership with WynnBET, a mobile sports betting app, and a cooperative marketing proposal was approved by the Henry County Board of Supervisors last week. Can you tell me a little about what that partnership will look like at the track this spring?

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Yea, we’re really pleased with the partnership that we have with WynnBET, and it’s a marketing relationship between WynnBET and Martinsville Speedway. Fans will see a mobile display here on the property. WynnBET is doing lounges for their guest and you’ll see signage and things of that nature.

It’s just another level of experience for our fans to have when they walk onto the property. There will be no kiosks or anything like that for betting. Everything that is done with WynnBET is done through your mobile device. So if you’re betting is has to be on your phone.

But it’s going to be noticeable and it’s a great relationship. They’re first in class with what they do, and to team up with NASCAR as well as here at Martinsville and Richmond (Raceway). With all of Virginia approving online betting and then what we did with the County, we’re appreciative of them to pass the ordinance so we can have a marketing relationship. I think it’s a win-win for everybody and it just provides our customers another way to enjoy themselves once they get on our property.

The NASCAR race weekend at Martinsville Speedway will take place on April 8-10, beginning with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Thursday night, the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Friday, and the NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday.

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Nelson Motorsports Bobby McCarty won the first part of the Virginia Triple Crown Late Model race at South Boston Speedway earlier this month. He”ll look to win the second part at this weekend”s Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway.

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