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W.Va. race fans become boosters of track, area
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Ed and Paula Wagaman of Palestine, W.Va., came to Martinsville to see a race and turned into fans of the speedway and the area. Their PT Cruiser, with magnetic strips Wagaman made that read “Hillbilly Hill Construction” and “Support our Troops,” is a familiar sight at the campground. (Contributed photo)

Friday, January 25, 2013


When Ed and Paula Wagaman made their first trip to Martinsville Speedway from Palestine, W.Va., in 2007, they had no intention of becoming race fans. They just wanted to see a race.

Six years later, the retirees not only are race fans, they are almost fanatical Martinsville fans. Not just fans of Martinsville Speedway, but fans of the Martinsville and Henry County area.

“We got over to Martinsville for that first trip and we just fell in love with it,” said Ed Wagaman. “We didn’t come planning to be fans, but after that first trip we’ve come back for every race. Twice a year we come.”

“We’ve tried a couple of the other tracks, but we keep coming back to Martinsville,” he added.

The couple had watched a few races on television but had never had experienced a race weekend at a track until their first race in 2007.

“That first trip, that got us interested, excited. Everybody at the track, the workers, the fans, everyone is so nice,” Wagaman said. “It’s like a reunion twice a year. We’ve brought other people with us, and they fall in love with the place and keep coming back.”

However, the on-track action is the most important part of the weekend for the Wagamans.

“We sit down there off of turn four. That’s where some of the most exciting parts of the race happen,” Wagaman said. “When we first started going we sat way down low in the fourth turn, so low we would get hit by pieces of rubber. That was fun, but we decided to move up a bit higher.”

It is the Martinsville and Henry County area, its residents and its beauty that always complete the Wagamans’ trip.

“The people in Martinsville are the most hospitable, most friendly people I’ve ever seen,” he said. “The people we deal with in the stores and the shops, they welcome race fans.”

Wagaman recalled an experience on a recent trip when he went to a building supply center in Martinsville in search of an item he needed for the couple’s camper. The store didn’t have what he wanted in stock, but someone at the store quickly built what he needed.

“He made me what I needed and just charged me for the two-by-fours he used. That’s amazing,” Wagaman said.

The Wagamans, who normally arrive in the Martinsville Speedway campground early in race week, always spend time exploring the area during their stay.

“The town is beautiful. The waterfall headed into the city is beautiful,” said Wagaman. “The downtown area is pretty. The whole area is just nice.”

The Wagaman’s PT Cruiser always can be spotted in line for “hot laps” at the track, which the speedway offers to ticket renewal customers.

“We love the hot laps. We try to do it every race,” said Wagaman, who has crafted special magnetic signs for the PT Cruiser that read “Hillbilly Hill Construction” and “Support our Troops.”

Ed, retired from the Air Force, and Paula, retired from the police department, say they cannot imagine not making the 600-mile round trip to Martinsville twice a year.

“We’re treated like family there,” Ed said.

The Wagamans will be returning to Martinsville for the Virginia 500 on April 7, the day after the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Pole day is Friday, April 5.

(Mike Smith is director of public relations for the Martinsville Speedway.)


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