SATURDAY NOTEBOOK BACK TO THE FUTURE If there was ever a car capable of cutting through time and space and achieving time travel, it would be Harold Martin's radical M4 With one of the most unique designs in all of motorsports, ...
BACK TO THE FUTURE
If there was ever a car capable of cutting through time and space and achieving time travel, it would be Harold Martin's radical M4
With one of the most unique designs in all of motorsports, Martin's dream of putting together this wild Pro Mod finally became a reality earlier this year and with each and every trip down the race track Martin and his M4 get a little better and one day Martin hopes to see all his hard work pay off with a trip to victory lane.
"Like any of our cars, we want to compete for the world championship," Martin said. "Basically we have two goals for it. One is to make it a competitive race car and two is to make a production car out of it."
So how did Martin come up with the idea for this one-of-a-kind machine?
"We have always been about change. We have always believed that motorsports is a great venue to promote new technology, new ideas and change," Martin said. "We also kind of saw the automotive climate coming where it really had some difficult times ahead. Great companies were in a struggle for their lives and it was really a time for some change.
"So we thought we could be an inspiration of showing change within the automotive industry and also within the motorsports industry and boy has it been great. We have received accolades from all forms of motorsports around the world as well as the automotive industry.
"They have really welcomed our leadership and our will to go outside of the box and design something new, different and fun that can get fans excited about it and get overall interest going."
Now Martin hopes that all of the progress he has seen lately will start turning into round wins and eventually a national event victory -- one day leading to a world championship.
But, as he admits, it is all going to come one step at a time.
"We understand and appreciate that it is going to be a journey and we are going to have to learn its characteristics. There has never been one like it so we have to plow new ground and we are up to that challenge," Martin said. "If we are patient with it and each and every outing we are learning and gaining we will see real progress before the year is out."
Friday night was all about firsts for Dallas Raceway and its racers.
From the first competitive pass by each of the 10 IHRA drag racing classes to the first 300 mile per hour run, Friday was an exciting night for everybody involved at the brand new track and for the IHRA.
And the man making that first 300 mile per hour pass -- 2007 Top Fuel world champion Bruce Litton.
Driving his highly popular blue and white Lucas Oil backed dragster, Litton propelled himself to a solid 300.20 mile per hour run in his first pass of the night on a 4.867 elapsed time.
"It was pretty cool. We weren't look for that, but we were fortunate enough to get it so that is another feather in the cap for the Lucas Oil car," Litton said.
Following up Bobby Lagana's first ever four second pass earlier in the week during testing, Litton was excited to be the first to break the 300 mile per hour barrier at the new track, but admitted that it means very little on Friday night.
There are still two days of racing left.
"Going 300 just means you got to finish the run and we were happy about that. With a new track you have no data so you are out there just trying to make your way down the track and try to make a solid run," Litton said. "Now we have something to look at and hopefully we can tweak it and make it better as the weekend goes along."
WHERE DID THAT GUY COME FROM?
Don't know the name Mark Martino?
You soon will.
The 30-year-old driver from Stoney Creek, Ontario is a rising force in the IHRA Elite Motorsports Pro Stock ranks and has a mission to be the next star in the always tough Mountain Motor Pro Stock class.
"It is an awesome class and I am excited to be a part of it. I have always loved Pro Stock. Going up against teams like Berner, Goforth, Montecalvo and those guys who have been around for a long time is a challenge, but I think we are up to the task," Martino said.
But prior to the season opener in Baton Rouge earlier this year, no one had heard the name Martino.
Martino got his start racing in his hometown, which is just a few miles down the road from Toronto Motorsports Park. He began racing in an outlaw class out of his home track and slowly progressed his way through the door car ranks all the way to Elite Motorsports Pro Stock last year.
"I started in 1999 driving a Mustang with a small-block and through the years progressed and got faster," Martino said. "First time out we were racing in the 9.20s and finally with the small-block we got to the 8s then we moved to a big-block with NHRA 500 inch heads on it and got that to go in the 7.30s.
"At that point we were debating whether to stay outlaw or not so I bought John Konigshofer's Mountain Motor to put in my car and we just said screw it so we bought Chuck DeMory's car last year and started IHRA Pro Stock."
With the car in hand, Martino and his father Tony began working on the car in preparation for its IHRA debut at the Mardi Gras Nationals in March.
And what a debut it was.
Martino qualified fourth and made it all the way to the semis with wins over Bob Bertsch and Cale Aronson before finally falling in the semi-final round to eventual winner Jason Collins. The following month Martino qualified 10th in a loaded field, but fell out of the running early when Dean Goforth eliminated him in the first round.
With that strong start, Martino currently sits sixth in the standings, just 85 points back of points lead Cary Goforth.
"We weren't sure how far we were going to race this year. We went to Baton Rouge and then we went to Rockingham and now Dallas and we are just excited about the whole deal," Martino said. "We are going to try and run all the races and after Tulsa obviously we get a lot closer to home which is nice. We are glad to be in Dallas this week. It is a top notch facility."
Following the race this weekend, Martino will once again make the 24 hour trip back to Canada before doing it all over again in two weeks for the Sooner Nationals at Tulsa Raceway Park.
And for a team with limited funds and limited personnel, that isn't always an easy thing to do. But when you love the sport as much as Martino, that makes the long trips to and from the track much easier to bear.
"It is just me, my dad and a couple others out here so it is definitely a challenge," Martino said. "You have to be nuts to do this, but we love every second of it."