New Zealand Visitors Discover NASCAR At Martinsville

Martinsville, VA---It only took one look at Bobby Labonte's Martinsville Speedway Goodyear tire test session to make race fans out of five New Zealand visitors. The five were part of an exchange program, with the Martinsville Rotary Club, that...

Martinsville, VA---It only took one look at Bobby Labonte's Martinsville Speedway Goodyear tire test session to make race fans out of five New Zealand visitors.

The five were part of an exchange program, with the Martinsville Rotary Club, that visited Martinsville for three days including a trip to Martinsville Speedway. Labonte was testing and the group was impressed with what they saw.

"I have never been to a race track in my life. I was impressed with the enormity of the stands. Bobby was like a fast bird sweeping round. The noise gets your adrenaline starting to pump. It was a great spectacle to watch them go around," said Helen Duncan an early childhood teacher from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Martinsville Speedway Senior Director of Corporate Communications Steve Sheppard spoke to the group in the speedway's suite and took them down to the track to stand near the frontstretch wall as Labonte turned laps. Duncan said she would love to come to a NASCAR Winston Cup race after watching Bobby.

"I would. I was really impressed by the amount of excitement I felt watching the car go around the track. Since this was only one, I can imagine with 40 cars it would be just fantastic. The atmosphere would be great with the crowd and the pumping of the crowd. I think a few beers and a bit of food, I'd be right for the day."

Mark Revis, an accountant from Christchurch, wanted to drive Labonte's car. "I'd like to get in a car and see what the power is like. In New Zealand, our speed limit is 100 kilometers an hour on the open road. The acceleration of these cars is the exciting thing. You can feel the power of the cars," he said as Labonte passed. "I wish I was in there with him. It's an interesting type of race. In New Zealand we have dirt tracks and demolition derby's, but seeing cars go around at 100 miles per hour plus that would be fantastic to see. "

Pip Lyons, a Christchruch attorney, enjoyed her visit to Martinsville, but said she really wasn't looking forward to coming to Martinsville Speedway. The trip changed her mind.

"To be honest I never thought that cars could be so exciting. I normally wouldn't be interested in something like this, but having seen it now, I would be interested in coming to a race and see the dynamics of a real race."

Julie Battersby, is the Christchurch city promotions coordinator, and said she would enjoy doing city promotions in Martinsville.

"It's a beautiful area. There is the possibility of lots of events and activities. Interestingly enough, we have been looking recently at bringing a major car race into our city. The local government there is putting up some funding to go out and bid for the event," she said about a rally race.

Labonte was at Martinsville helping Goodyear test tires for the Goody's Body Pain 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. There still are excellent seats available for the Goody's Body Pain 500 in the Clay Earles and Bill France towers for $60-$65. There also are great seats in the concrete bleacher sections for $40-$45. Tickets for the new Old Dominion Tower between turns one and two go on sale Wednesday, March 15.

Bud Pole qualifying for the Goody's Body Pain 500 is Friday, April 7 at 3 p.m. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will race in the NAPA 250 on Saturday, April 8. Tickets for the NAPA 250 are $30 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. The Craftsman Trucks will time trial on Friday, April 7 at 1:40 p.m. Tickets for Bud Pole qualifying are $15 for adults and children ages 6-12 get in free with a paying adult. Tickets can be ordered by calling the Martinsville Speedway ticket office toll free at 1-877-RACE-TIX or 540 956-3151.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte