Mark Story

For Kentucky Speedway, rocking the jukeboxes is paying off

The winner of the 2016 Quaker State 400 Saturday night will receive the top of the line Crosley Slimline jukebox, which retails for $9,995.
The winner of the 2016 Quaker State 400 Saturday night will receive the top of the line Crosley Slimline jukebox, which retails for $9,995. mstory@herald-leader.com

Say “Martinsville Speedway,” and what comes to mind?

If you have even rudimentary knowledge of NASCAR, it is a grandfather clock.

The Virginia racetrack has been presenting a Ridgeway clock to its major race winners since the mid-1960s.

Kentucky Speedway is only in its sixth year as a Sprint Cup track, yet it seems on its way to developing a unique victory “symbol” all its own. Last year, as part of a sponsorship agreement with Louisville-based Crosley Brands, the Sparta track started presenting jukeboxes to its race winners.

To say the music machines have been a hit with the drivers who have won them is an epic understatement. In fact, the word that keeps coming up is “awesome.”

Brad Keselowski claimed a jukebox in 2015 for winning the July Xfinity Series race in Sparta. “It’s pretty cool,” Keselowski said. “It’s in the corner of my shop. The team guys love it. When you turn it on, it plays throughout the whole shop. It’s beautiful.”

Ryan Blaney won a jukebox when he won the September Xfinity race. “It’s awesome. I think it is one of the best ‘trophies’ we have (in NASCAR),” Blaney said. “I have it in my living room. When I have people over, it’s my stereo system.”

Matt Crafton won the very first jukebox presented at Kentucky for claiming the Camping World Truck Series race last July. “It’s awesome. It’s in my living room. It’s definitely one of the coolest trophies I have,” Crafton said.

Ryan Reed became a jukebox hero last September when he won the ARCA race at Kentucky Speedway.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Reed said. “It sits in my living room, and it’s fun. Especially when I have people over and listen to music.”

The thing I like about the jukebox is everybody thinks a jukebox is fun. That’s what we’re selling here. I want something that looks like (Kentucky Speedway) is a fun, cool place to be.

Mark Simendinger, Kentucky Speedway general manager

Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said the idea of awarding jukeboxes to race winners grew out of sponsorship talks between the track and Crosley Brands CEO Bo LeMastus — who is a race-car driver on the side.

Crosley Brands is now primary sponsor of the September ARCA race in Sparta.

“The thing I like about the jukebox is everybody thinks a jukebox is fun,” Simendinger said. “That’s what we’re selling here. I want something that looks like (Kentucky Speedway) is a fun, cool place to be.”

The drivers’ families seem to love the jukeboxes.

After Kyle Busch claimed the 2015 Sprint Cup Quaker State 400, his wife, Samantha, posted a picture of the couple with their then-infant son, Brexton, posing with the Crosley Slimline Jukebox that goes to the Cup race winner.

“Can’t wait to get my groove on with the jukebox,” she wrote.

During the night after Keselowski won his jukebox, his girlfriend, Paige White, tweeted to Kentucky Speedway “the jukebox is awesome.”

Crafton says his daughter, Elladee, 3, “loves to turn (the jukebox) on and dance and see all the lights and change all the colors. Every time she gets a chance, she turns it on and listens to the music.”

The winner of the 2016 Quaker State 400 Saturday night will — in addition to the traditional Kentucky Speedway “horse’s head” trophy — receive the top of the line Crosley Slimline jukebox (retail price of $9,995 at crosleyradio.com).

It’s really cool because it has Bluetooth. It looks like an old-school jukebox but it’s also got new-school technology.

Ryan Reed, who won one of the Kentucky Speedway jukeboxes last fall

Victors in Thursday night’s trucks race, Friday’s Xfinity event as well as the September ARCA and Xfinity races at Kentucky get a smaller Crosley Brands jukebox that retails for $1,799.95.

Neither model is the jukebox your great-grandparents used to rock around the clock to at the sock hop.

“It’s really cool because it has Bluetooth,” Reed says of the jukebox he won. “It looks like an old-school jukebox but it’s also got new-school technology.”

Keselowski acknowledges he has encountered one problem in keeping the jukebox that he won in his race shop.

“The team guys always fight over what channel that thing goes on — country, rock, sometimes rap,” Keselowski said. “But it’s a good incentive, whoever comes in first gets to pick the channel.”

For his part, Simendinger envisions the jukebox in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway becoming a phenomenon similar to those at other NASCAR tracks known for awarding unique prizes to race winners.

You hold the lobster (in victory lane), you know you are in New Hampshire,” Simendinger said. “You hold the six-shooters, you know you are in Texas. Hopefully, when people see somebody with a jukebox, they will immediately know it is Kentucky.”

This weekend at Kentucky Speedway

Friday: Xfinity Series Alsco 300 (8:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

Saturday: Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

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