Martinsville Speedway Founder H. Clay Earles is the recipient of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2017 Landmark Award.
The award is given annually to a person who has made “Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.”
“It’s a great day for Martinsville Speedway,” Earles’ grandson and current Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. “It’s an honor for my grandfather to be recognized for his contributions in the sport by his peers, as a pioneer in the sport.
“It’s a special day and quite an honor.”
Earles built the half-mile speedway in 1947 and held the first race on September 7 of that year.
Currently hosting two Sprint Cup Series races, Martinsville Speedway is the only track that was on the schedule in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season that still hosts the series today.
An innovator, Earles was known for putting top priority in the fans’ experience.
“The secret to success in our business is giving the customer what he wants,” Earles said before his death in 1999. “When a man plunks down his money, he deserves the best. You try to make him comfortable, give him a great show and make sure he gets his money’s worth. And we’ve always tried to do just that.
“Your customers are your greatest assets and that will never change. You actually sell the customer a memory as much as a race. If their memories are good, they’ll keep coming back.”
In 1988, Earles named Campbell president of Martinsville Speedway and moved to chairman of the board, a role he would stay in until his death at the age of 86 in 1999.