Žarnovica (Banská Bystrica Region) is perhaps best known among Slovaks as a bus stop. Until it was bypassed by the highway a few years ago, long-distance coaches on their way across the country used to pull up in a pot-holed carpark on the main road to exchange passengers and take a break. The dingy bar (and toilets) of a nearby restaurant were all that most casual visitors got to see.
Such excitement aside, the town's main occupation was as a market town and as home to a timber mill, now much reduced in size. The town's officials are currently trying to use its improved highway connections to attract new investors.
Humble Žarnovica has one contemporary claim to fame: Slovakia's only speedway track. The sport, which involves riders careering around a dirt oval on motorbikes with no brakes is a great spectacle. A local, Martin Vaculik, was crowned Czech speedway champion in 2008. Since it's the only circuit in Slovakia, races here are restricted to occasional international meetings in the summer. Catch one if you can.