Martinsville Speedway has begun a renovation project that includes removing grandstand seating in both turns of the half-mile track, according to the Martinsville Bulletin.
The track, which seats 55,000, will remove roughly 12 rows of seats, located at the top of Bill France Tower in Turns 3 and 4, along with all seats above the press box in Turns 1 and 2.
These seating sections were added in the early 2000s, according to track president Clap Campbell.
Campbell attributed the decision to remove the seats above the press box to a downturn in attendance as well as difficulty in reaching the seats. With no elevator available, fans must navigate 180 steps to reach their seats.
“We’re calling it ‘facility optimization,’” Campbell told the Bulletin. “It’s not a lot of seats but at the end of the day it’s going to make the experience better for everyone in that tower because by eliminating those seats people don’t have to walk to get to the top row. It will relieve pressure on our concession stands and our restrooms in that tower, we can only build so many in there. So it’s really a win-win for everybody concerned so that’s the reason we’re taking those out.”
Campbell said there were no immediate plans for repurposing the area where the seats are being removed. Season ticket holders in those areas have had their tickets relocated.
The renovation project also includes changes to the front entrance of the facility with an increase in gates from eight to 30.
The project will be done in two phases. The first will be done before NASCAR’s first race weekend in late March. The second will be complete before the Late Model night race in October.