(This is the second in a series of memorable moments in the 63-year history of Martinsville Speedway. This TUMS moment, as remembered by veteran crew member Odie Hughes, focuses on the family atmosphere at NASCAR’s shortest track).
MARTINSVILLE RACE IS LIKE A FAMILY REUNION FOR ODIE HUGHES
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 11, 2010) – Martinsville Speedway has always been a track where parents could enjoy sharing a special afternoon with their children. It’s that family environment that makes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ shortest track an enjoyable place for Furniture Row Racing veteran crewman Odie Hughes.
NOTE: TUMS is the sponsor of the TUMS Fast Relief 500, the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 24.
A Thomasville, N.C., native, Hughes has been making the trek to the picturesque short track since 1962. During his racing career, he’s served as a jack man, gas man, tire changer and in other capacities on various crews. Now, at age 65, he handles the catch can duties for Furniture Row Racing and driver Regan Smith.
“I love Martinsville Speedway. It’s a family place,” said Hughes, whose son Clayton serves as the team’s spotter. “It’s a nice little track.
“My favorite memory about Martinsville is probably the Wood brothers. The Wood brothers, Glen and his brother Leonard, have been there for years and they’re super nice people. And Clay Earles [owner and builder of Martinsville Speedway], I knew him personally. It’s more or less family going to Martinsville.”
Hughes said his wife accompanied him to Martinsville for many years before she decided about a decade ago to stop making the trip. Clayton has been traveling with his father to the Martinsville races since he was in his mid-teens. They even celebrated in victory lane with team owner Cliff Stewart when then-rookie driver Morgan Shepherd won the 1981 Virginia 500.
Hughes admits he’s in his waning years as a crewman, but for the North Carolina native, Martinsville Speedway and family will always be synonymous.
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