Flatfoot Hurley lives just behind the Martinsville Speedway, but Sunday he was enjoying the view from the top.
Hurley and his nephew, Tommy Hurley, who lives about five miles away from the speedway, saw the race from the SkyDeck, the speedway’s newest viewing platform.
Open for the first time at the fall race, the SkyDeck is a viewing and lounge area above the suites in Turns 1 and 2. It has a rail where people can watch the race standing up and an area with couches and tables and chairs where they can step back and watch it on TV.
Flatfoot Hurley said he loves everything about it. The amenities are great, he said, plus “the view is nice. You can see everything.”
While he also was in the SkyDeck for October’s race, it was his nephew’s first time. Tommy Hurley praised the “scenery, friendly people and good food.”
Tommy Hurley said he has a special appreciation for NASCAR because he knows what it’s like behind on a track: He has been drag-racing at Piedmont Dragway for the past six years. He said he loves the way “the motors run and the rush when you’re behind the wheel.”
Lorri Wilson and Kandy Musselman, on the other hand, came all the way from California. Musselman said does “lots of traveling” to see NASCAR races, whereas Wilson mostly concentrates on the West Coast. They have been staying in Greensboro, N.C., for the weekend.
“There’s lot of things” to praise about the SkyDeck, Wilson said. “It’s comfortable.”
“Relaxing,” added Musselman.
“It’s a sunny day and it’s amazing” to enjoy it on the couches and along the observation railing, Wilson said. “It’s not crowded” up there.
The SkyDeck just might have the women spoiled. Mussleman said she’s going to a race in Richmond in three more weeks but doesn’t expect to enjoy it in such comfort.
“Are there any other races that have this?” she asked, listing Vegas, Daytona, Homestead — “we’ve been all over” — which don’t have anything that matches up.
They’ve also enjoyed the buffet, they said. It included pulled pork sliders, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, fruits, vegetables, salad, fried potato chips and various desserts.
The daily “four-drink coupon” gives “just the right amount” to drink, too, Musselman said.
It’s all topped off with Martinsville hospitality: “They’re so friendly and nice, just wonderful,” Musselman said.
“As someone who’s been to a lot of race tracks, I think it’s the best view in all of motorsports, said Brooks Taylor of the speedway.
SkyDeck pass holders have “pretty much every choice when it comes to how to view the race”: at the observation railing, from the lounge area and even down on the grandstands.
Only 200 admissions to the SkyDeck are available, according to the speedway’s website, and they cost $375 each. That includes admission to both the Saturday and Sunday race.
Access starts at 9 a.m. both days, as well as a pre-race infield pass that grants access to the pits and the frontstretch from 10:30 a.m. until the end of driver introductions, along with live music played on the SkyDeck before the race.
While age restrictions were lifted on the SkyDeck for the March race, no children or teenagers were observed during a reporter's visit to the SkyDeck.
In October, Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell described the concept like this:"We kind of took it from the playbook of baseball and other sports that have areas to socialize, and you get to be a part of the event and still experience the event, or if you want to watch the race or relax from it or drink you a cold you, whatever that is, you can sit in the relaxing atmosphere and watch it on TV, have a band playing,” he said.
Being up that high, “the noise is not bad at all,” Campbell said.Campbell said that it would be a way to cater to the younger generation of NASCAR fans who “need something a little big different.” They like to take a break and get away from the actual race for a while.