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True Americana with a racing twist: Martinsville Speedway once again hosts high school prom after-party

Apr 16, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT

Two weeks after NASCAR made its most recent visit there, Martinsville Speedway's infield was transformed from a racing venue to a prom after party for students of Martinsville High School. (Photo courtesy Martinsville Speedway) Two weeks after NASCAR made its most recent visit there, Martinsville Speedway's infield was transformed from a racing venue to a prom after party for students of Martinsville High School. (Photo courtesy Martinsville Speedway)

What do Martinsville Speedway, New York’s Central Park and a prom after-party have in common?

They’re all one-in-the-same – kind of.

For over a decade every April, NASCAR’s oldest racetrack has played host to Martinsville (Va.) High School’s prom after-party.

The latest edition, which came two weeks after the annual spring NASCAR race, was this past Saturday, when the infield was transformed into “The Stars Are Out in Central Park,” with almost 200 teens enjoying music, dancing, games and prizes and turning what typically is a horsepower arena into a “fun power” host.

“I love having after prom, but having after prom at the speedway is even better,” senior Cassidy Agee, who was this year’s prom queen, said in a media release from the track. “There is so much to do in a fun and safe environment. There are games, a casino and many other fun activities and tons of free stuff. There are many reasons why I go to after prom, but the main reason is to have a great time.”

A group of parents and volunteers work year-round with Martinsville-area businesses to raise funds, decorate, set up and staff the midnight to 5 a.m. event.

“This has really grown into something the students look forward to,” Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. “We didn’t know what to expect the first time they held it here, but the kids loved the experience and that continues today.

“The parents and the students do such a great job of putting it on, there’s very little that our staff has to do. It’s good, safe fun for the kids. It’s something we love to work with, and we hope we can keep doing it for many years to come.”

Once students enter the infield at the beginning of the After-Prom Party, they cannot leave and return, nor can anyone without a ticket enter.

“After Prom gives us a place to let down all of our bobby pins … well for the girls, and just be teenagers,” Martinsville High senior Ashley Buck said. “Not only do I have a blast each year, but it makes me happy to see the people and students who are all ‘rough and tough’ laughing and going through the obstacle course or having their hair whipped all around in the money machine.”

The After Prom Party is just one of many civic and community events that the Speedway hosts each year. Others include an annual toy drive, Fourth of July celebration, Red Cross blood drive and various fundraising events.

“Being a good corporate citizen is an important part of what we are about here at Martinsville Speedway,” Campbell said. “We all live in Martinsville and Henry County and have a vested interest here. We want to do everything we can do to make this a great place to live.”

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