The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will be held Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Martinsville Speedway, one of many events scheduled before the end of its 2023 season.
Track president Clay Campbell said this weekend promises an exciting race for competitors, with its payout of at least $32,000 being the largest for the division.
“You’re coming here and running on a worldwide known racetrack, where competitors from all over have run here. The greats of NASCAR have won and run, so I think it means a lot for late model guys to come here and be on the same playing field that all the greats have been on,” Campbell said.
One of the drivers for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, 15-year-old Katie Hettinger, is both excited and nervous for the race.
“I’m really excited. Martinsville is a huge race, it’s the biggest late model race I’ll run. There’s a lot of big names running and I’m pretty nervous about it,” she said. Hettinger said her goal for the race is to make top 10.
Despite her young age, Hettinger already has a long list of accomplishments under her belt.
“I am the youngest female at Hickory Motor Speedway to win a limited late model and a late model race. I’m also the youngest female to win a CRA championship and I’m the winningest female at Hickory Motor Speedway,” she said, naming a few of what she considers to be her biggest accomplishments.
Racing has always been a part of Hettinger’s life.
“My grandpa raced. He raced mostly spring cars and midgets on pavement, so mostly open wheel stuff. And then my dad raced, too. He raced a little bit of everything. So, I went to my first race when I was less than a month old,” she said.
It wasn’t long before she got behind the wheel herself.
“I’ve always wanted to race, so when I was five, I started racing quarter midgets. When I turned 10, I switched over to dirt micros and I ran those for two years, and then I switched back over to junior late models in 2019, and in 2020 I won a championship in that,” she said. “Then I started running limited late models and late model stocks.”
However, it isn’t always easy. Hettinger said that one of the most difficult things about being a young female in racing is getting out there.
“I have a lot of people that help me out with that, spread my name and everything,” she said. “But, you know, there are a few women in our sport, and I just feel that as a female, I need to show results if I want to move up, and so making sure that I am showing results and taking it seriously so that I can get more rides and move up through the sport.”
Hettinger has big goals for herself, and hopes to one day win a Cup Series.
“I do drive for Team Chevy,” she said.
The ValleyStar race is not the only race coming up at the Speedway, however. October 27-30 is shaping up to be a packed weekend at the Martinsville Speedway
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, the Xfinity Series will be held Saturday, Oct. 29, and the Xfinity 500 Cup Series will be held on Sunday, Oct. 30.
“Three great races, big weekend. (The Xfinity 500 Cup Series) is a penultimate race in the playoffs for NASCAR. You’re coming here with eight guys that are vying for the championship and you leave with four to go to Phoenix. It’s always a very high intense, action packed weekend,” Campbell said, adding that the track has many activities and attractions planned for fans to keep the weekend exciting.
“We like to say that once a fan gets here on the weekend and gets out of his car, there’s something to see or do somewhere on property,” he said. “We put a lot of effort into the fan experience. We’ve got a lot of things planned in our midway, just all weekend long there will be something going on. In our campground we’ll be doing concerts up there, we’ll have things for Halloween. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”
There also will be celebrations planned to commemorate the track’s 75th anniversary at the upcoming races, especially for the Xfinity 500 weekend.
“I think you’ll see things this weekend to celebrate the history of our 75th anniversary. Obviously, for the Xfinity 500 weekend, we want to have things that will also celebrate that 75th anniversary,” Campbell said. “We’ll have cars that were run here through the many decades. We’ll probably have some drivers that will make their way here from earlier years in our speedway’s history.
“It’s something that we want to finish up in grand fashion because the 75th anniversary is a big deal and we want to recognize that, we want to celebrate it, and we want our fans to be a part of that,” Campbell said, and encourages fans to come out for all of the upcoming races.
“For fans looking for something to do this weekend, the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 is going to be a great race. The weather’s looking great for it. It’s going to be exciting,” he said.