October 3, 2007
Canadian track's winner among group to visit here for Subway 500.

A sister city-type relationship may be in the works between Martinsville and a Canadian city with a similar name that also has a stock car race track.

Seven people from Martensville, Saskatchewan, will come to Martinsville on Oct. 18 for a five-day visit coinciding with the Subway 500 NASCAR race at the Martinsville Speedway.

Those coming include Herman Hordal, business development manager for Auto Clearing Motor Speedway near Martensville, and Wayne Osborne, who recently won the Martensville 100 race at Auto Clearing.
They will be accompanied by Hordal's son, Craig, who is a police officer in Edmonton, Alberta, and four members of Osborne's family.

Hordal already is somewhat familiar with Martinsville. Years ago, he was on the Florida-based Suncoast Suns hockey team which played against teams in Roanoke and Winston-Salem, N.C., and he traveled through the area.
Southwest Virginia is "one of the most beautiful areas I remember" visiting, he said.

The winner of the Martensville 100 each year now is getting tickets to the Subway 500 at the Martinsville Speedway, Hordal said.
"Martinsville down in Virginia has become famous" due to its speedway, he said. "We up here hear so much about Martinsville, Va., because of the races you have down there."

Hordal and Martinsville Mayor Kimble Reynolds Jr., who is coordinating the Canadians' visit, hope a relationship between the two localities will develop. Reynolds first became aware of Martensville two years ago, when it was finishing the Auto Clearing Speedway and hoping to learn about Martinsville's speedway.
Hordal said he envisions different people from Martensville coming to the Subway 500 each year, which he hopes will help Canadians and Americans better understand each other's cultures.

Some Canadians think Americans are arrogant, he said, but "that is the opposite of what I've seen" when visiting the U.S. He said that people in southeastern states are particularly hospitable.
"There's an opportunity here to show some real fellowship" between the two nations and their people, he said.

The town of Martensville, population about 5,000, is a bedroom community of Saskatoon, the largest city in Saskatchewan with a population of 220,000. Martensville is smaller than Martinsville, which has about 15,000 residents.
However, "just because you are lesser in size doesn't mean you are lesser in quality," Reynolds said.

Martinsville and Martensville both have a lot to offer recreational enthusiasts, based on information gathered via the Internet.
For instance, Martensville has five large lakes, so boating and fishing are popular activities there, just like at Philpott Lake near Martinsville.

In addition to their speedways, the localities have local sports teams - the Martensville Marauders hockey team and Martinsville Mustangs baseball team.
Reynolds said he hopes the Canadians' visit will foster "ways to strategically align ourselves" so both Martinsville and Martensville can benefit. Hordal, who was interviewed by phone Thursday, made similar remarks.

Hordal noted that Auto Clearing was built entirely through volunteer labor and corporate sponsorships. No public funds were used.
"There's got to be some energy in that community" for such a project to happen, Reynolds said. Perhaps Martensville residents have ideas for things Martinsville can do to move the city forward, and vice versa, he indicated.

"We will not know until we sit down and explore" possible ways the two localities might work together in the future, said Reynolds.
Reynolds said it is possible the Canadians will visit the Virginia Museum of Natural History and Piedmont Arts Association, and maybe take a canoe or kayak ride along the Smith River while they are in Martinsville.

Dinner with Jim Barnett, a local commercial real-estate broker who is from Canada, and perhaps other Canadians in the area is planned, said Reynolds.
The Canadians will exchange small gifts with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.'s tourism office and the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Hordal and Reynolds said.