One of the most coveted trophies awarded in NASCAR is a grandfather clock presented to drivers who win the Sprint Cup series race held at Martinsville Speedway near Roanoke, VA. This year’s recipient, Denny Hamlin, who won the event that ran yesterday, received a clock that is even more unique than usual — for the first time, instead of being provided by a commercial clock company, it was designed and built by local woodworking students.
The clock tradition began when the Speedway’s founder, H. Clay Earles, wanted to award a different type of trophy and decided upon a grandfather clock built by a local furniture manufacturer. The first one was presented in 1964, and since then the clock trophy has become as special as Earles had hoped. Richard Petty, who won a total of 12 clocks during his career, reportedly was so happy with the first one that he ordered another one the next day for his mother’s birthday and 10 more later on as Christmas presents.
This year’s win brings Hamlin, a Virginia native, his second clock. He won the race last year and, as reported by ESPN, “The first thing I thought was, dude, I’m getting a clock!”
While the trophy clock was manufactured for many years by Ridgeway Clocks, this year the project was given to woodworking students at Halifax County High School, part of the WoodLINKS USA program. The design features decorative touches that relate to the speedway, like a speedway-shaped oval on the inside back panel of the clock. It also was made using locally sourced wood. It bears a plaque with the name of the school.
According to a local TV news report, the student-designed clock will be used as a prototype for clocks awarded for the next three years or so. Hamlin will have the distinction of having the only original. The video features a number of student woodworkers and their teacher, who are proud of the role they played in this longstanding tradition.
WoodLINKS USA has woodworking programs in almost 100 schools across the country. For more information, visit woodlinksusa.org.
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