Imagine strapping into a high-octane race car and zipping around one of NASCAR's fastest tracks.

It was a reality for some, as Martinsville Speedway opened its gates for its 16th annual toy drive.

Speed demons raced to help local kids.

By profession, Jason Johnson is a truck series driver, but Saturday he let go of the wheel for a different perspective.

"Out here to try and scope the track out a little bit and talk to Clay, " Johnson said.

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell is hard to pin down.

Especially on this day, the businessman and racer is playing chaffeur for the annual toy drive.

"We've added a little different twist to it this time, no pun intended, we're doing race car rides," he said.

For 16 years the Speedway has opened the track so speed-lovers can feel the rush of racing, and do its part to help the community.

Becky McKinney from the Grace Network says there are so many people who never thought they'd find themselves in this situation and need to ask for help.

Whether people donate a toy or suit-up to take a spin, the proceeds go to the Grace Network, a crisis ministry made up of more than 100 Martinsville and Henry County churches.

"The toy drive is a wonderful way to help in a time when you're just trying to make your bills and then you put Christmas on top of that and want to provide for your children and it's so difficult for many of our families in the area," said McKinney.

Organizers say the event pays off for everyone - the more than 200- kids who wouldn't get toys

Christmas morning and race fans who get to use their love of the sport to help their community.

Vivian McDorman is a Martinsville Resident. She says she's happy thatthe event is held on her stomping grounds.

"What's wonderful about this is it's all for children and it all stays right here in Martinsville/Henry County and in these days in times, it's needed," McDorman said.


In all, more than 1,500 toys were collected and 4,500 dollars raised.

That's almost double from last year.