Recognizing that Virginia is for lovers … of NASCAR!

Published 10:05 am Saturday, September 4, 2010

In my new role as Virginia’s chief jobs creation officer, I spend a lot time recruiting new businesses to Virginia and helping existing businesses prosper and expand.

However, earlier this year Gov. Bob McDonnell gave me a unique and extremely important assignment — making certain that we didn’t lose one of the two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway.

Earlier this year International Speedway Corp., who owns Martinsville Speedway, announced that they were adding an additional Sprint Cup race at their racetrack in Kansas City. That meant that they had to eliminate a race at one of their other tracks and it soon became clear that Martinsville was at risk of losing one of its annual races.

The importance of NASCAR to Martinsville, Henry County and Southern Virginia cannot be overstated. A recent economic analysis determined that Martinsville’s two

NASCAR races support 2,824 jobs, provide $170 million in economic impact and gen

erate $13.2 million in state and local tax revenue every year.

Losing one Sprint Cup race would have been a catastrophic hit to the local economy. Conservative estimates put the economic impact at $75 million in lost annual revenue, 1,000 jobs and millions in state and local taxes. However, the psychological hit to a region devastated by job losses in the last decade would be even more debilitating.

In March, I flew to Daytona to make our case to ISC officials and encourage them to keep two race weekends at Martinsville. Through these discussions we confirmed that Martinsville was at risk for losing one of their Sprint Cup races, and we learned that significant upgrades to the facility were needed for Martinsville to remain competitive with other ISC racetracks.

Under Gov. McDonnell’s leadership and direction, we worked with ISC, Martinsville Speedway and various state agencies — including the Tobacco Commission, the Virginia Tourism Corp. and VDOT — to put together an aggressive proposal to help upgrade facilities and infrastructure at Martinsville Speedway and show the Commonwealth’s commitment to


I was recently proud to announce that we have reached an agreement to insure that two Sprint Cup races will be held at Martinsville for at least the next five years, and hopefully for much longer than that. This agreement will ensure the generation of more than $375 million in local fiscal impact and secure thousands of jobs in Martinsville and Henry County.

Sometimes my work to get our economy moving again and create jobs involves the expansion of an existing business or the establishment of a new business, and sometimes it involves protecting and preserving an important economic engine like Martinsville Speedway.

If you have never been to a NASCAR race, I encourage you to go and help support this vital industry in Virginia. There is a race coming up in Richmond on Sept. 11 and another in Martinsville on Oct. 24.

The governor and I are delighted that we were able to help make this agreement possible, and we look forward to many more successful races at Martinsville Speedway. After all, Virginia Is For Lovers … of NASCAR!

BILL BOLLING is lieutenant governor of Virginia and can be reached at