Why do NASCAR winners get a Grandfather clock at Martinsville?

Jake Nichol October 30, 2021
Why do NASCAR winners get a Grandfather clock at Martinsville?
Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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It’s one of the most unique trophies in sport, but why do NASCAR winners at Martinsville get a Grandfather clock as their trophy? And who has the most?

Martinsville Grandfather clock explained

There are some interesting trophies in sport.

For example, in golf, the winner at The Masters gets a green jacket.

NASCAR has some of the weirdest trophies, not just in motorsport, but sport overall.

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Some trophies are dictated by the race sponsor’s name – such as the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 in 2015 at Kansas.

Some are more traditional though.

In New Hampshire the winner receives a live lobster as their reward.

At the 0.526-mile Martinsville short track, they receive a Grandfather clock.

Photo by Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images

It is certainly unusual, but where did the idea come from?

The idea of handing out a Grandfather clocks stems from H Clay Earles – the founder of Martinsville Speedway.

Earles wanted a unique trophy, that also paid tribute to the local furniture industry around the Virginia-based track.

And so he settled upon a seven foot high Ridgeway Grandfather clock.

It was first handed out to Fred Lorenzen in 1964.

What do the drivers think about it?

The Martinsville Grandfather clock is one of the most sought after trophies on the NASCAR calendar.

Aside from the Cup title itself and the Daytona 500, a win at Martinsville is one of the big prizes.

There are two Grandfather clocks up for grabs each year – with one Martinsville race in the spring.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The other generally falls as the eliminator in the semi-finals of the Playoffs – as it will this weekend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr spoke a few years ago about the importance of winning and owing a Martinsville Grandfather clock.

“A lot of trophies when you look at them, you wouldn’t put them in your living room,” he explained to USA Today.

“You’re not gonna take the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trophy and put it in the foyer.

It’s just not gonna go with the décor. But that clock, that thing’s sought after because the drivers know it’s something they can put in their house and be proud of.”

Who has the most Grandfather clocks?

Richard Petty holds the record for the most wins at Martinsville in the Cup Series.

‘The King’ won 15 times at the short track, including two before the clock was introduced in 1964.

He would give some away and keep others.

Second on the list is Darrell Waltrip.

DW secured 11 wins at Martinsville, earning himself more clocks than the average person needs.

His first came in 1976 and his last in 1989 – the final of which was his third on the trot.

Third on the list is Jeff Gordon with nine wins.

The former #24 driver claimed his final career win in the 2015 race, advancing to the Championship race at Homestead.

Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images

However, he could not add a fifth Cup crown as Kyle Busch won the overall title that year.

Dale Earnhardt Sr won six times at Martinsville.

What about current drivers?

There are nine current Martinsville Grandfather clock owners on the 2021 grid.

  • Denny Hamlin – five
  • Martin Truex Jr – three
  • Brad Keselowski – two
  • Kyle Busch – two
  • Kurt Busch – two
  • Joey Logano – one
  • Ryan Newman – one
  • Kevin Harvick – one
  • Chase Elliott – one

Elliott’s win in 2020 propelled him to championship glory.

He had previously struggled at Martinsville, but victory sealed his spot at Phoenix.

He would go onto win at Phoenix and take a maiden title.

Kyle Larson, who has made the Cup Series his playground in 2021 has a best finish of third from his 13 Martinsville starts.

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.