MARTIN IN ROLEX? Mark Martin is said to be either in or is contemplating a Rolex Series ride for the mid-July Iowa Raceway show. Though it's been awhile, Martin's no stranger to sportscar racing, having done so with longtime, now former...
MARTIN IN ROLEX?
Mark Martin is said to be either in or is contemplating a Rolex Series ride for the mid-July Iowa Raceway show.
Though it's been awhile, Martin's no stranger to sportscar racing, having done so with longtime, now former boss Jack Roush in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, mostly during the late-1980's through early 1990's.
A number notable motorsports names co-drove with Martin while the driver scored three Rolex 24 class victories in GTO or, later, GTS.
Driving a "Lincoln-Mercury Cougar XR-7" in 1989, Martin scored his first Rolex 24 title and a sixth-place overall with Pete Halsmer, Bob Earl and Paul Stewart.
In 1991, with Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Robby Gordon, the trio finished fourth overall in a Ford Mustang.
Tommy Kendall, Paul Newman and Mike Brockman teamed with Martin in 1995's "Nobody's Fool" Ford Mustang, giving Martin three Rolex 24 titles in six tries.
In 1993, Martin, along with John Fergus and Jim Stevens, copped another third-place-overall finish but only a second-in-class in a Roush Mustang, only two laps down to a winning sister Mustang driven by Wally Dallenbach Jr., Robby Gordon, Robbie Buhl and Tommy Kendall. Martin and company were just 12 laps down to Dan Gurney's winning GTP Eagle Toyota MKIII driven by P.J. Jones, Rocky Moran and Mark Dismore - a pretty darn close GTO-to-GTP finish by historical standards.
Martin's worst finishes came in his first year, 1988, co-driving to a 44th-place finish with Lyn St. James, Deborah Gregg and Pete Halsmer in Lincoln-Mercury Capri (essentially a Mustang), and in 1992, with a 14th-overall finish driving a Ford Mustang with Calvin Fish, Robbie Buhl and Jim Stevens.
FISH OUT OF WATER?
Of course, one can't help but note SPEED's Calvin Fish being among those names mentioned with Martin, helping the venerable NASCAR star (though hardly such at the time) to his next-to-worse Rolex 24 finish.
Fish, who today hardly looks to be hardly beyond his F-3 days, nevertheless is a Rolex 24 class winner, doing it in the 1990 race with Robby Gordon and Lyn St. James in a Mercury Cougar.
SPEAKING OF SPEEDy GUYS
Tommy Kendall also was in that mass of names associated with Martin and Roush Racing. Kendall copped a second Rolex watch in 1993 driving a Roush car with Dallenbach, Gordon and Buhl.
The Kendall of today is a far different creature than the gangly, tall, light-weight kid back then.
While it's been a gas watching Kendall's "SPEED Test Drive," I've seen him watch his rearview mirrors so much during the show that I've begun to wonder if he wasn't doing too much of the same right before his "Intrepid" Watkins Glen shunt way back when.
Oh, that hurt; literally. Sorry, Tommy, I just couldn't help myself.
BLOWING 'EM AWAY
Has anyone noticed Corvette's downright dominance of ALMS' GT-1 class?
The team has finished 1-2 in the first two races of the 2007 season and will - all but certain as this is written - finish the same way in this weekend's Houston race.
The only question: will it be the No. 3 of Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen or the No. 4 of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin out front at race end?
Look, I don't want to take anything away from these really, really talented drivers or other Team Corvette members -- and all of 'em are world class, for sure -- but one can only wonder if this year's GT-1 Championship trophy will be kinda pushed to the rear of GM's trophy case, to be obscured by other, hard-earned trophies won competing against other brilliant teams and drivers.
And the Team Corvette PR guy, what a cruise. If all such racing PR guys could have a similar headache, the biggest problem being a correct identification of which yellow car came in first.
Thinking about it, the PR guy's probably on a Tahiti holiday right now, having already written a season's worth of victory announcements.
WANNA SEE A RACE?
Go to Virginia International Raceway April 24-26.
Besides having lovely grounds (one of the Rolex Series circuit's two best in my estimation) and a family-friendly atmosphere, this 3.27-mile track just seems to consistently produce some of the best Daytona Prototype racing seen.
In 2006, the winning No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche-Crawford, driven by Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller, finished the race less than one second ahead of the 2nd and 3rd-place cars.
In 2005, race-winners Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz were among the first of four cars coming to the checkered flag that were separated by less than two seconds.
In 2004, the victorious SunTrust car of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli were separated from the 3rd-place finisher by all of a 1.036-second margin of victory. Stuffed somewhere between was a second-pace car.
Each of the above narrow victory margins occurred after 70-some-odd laps of serious racing.
One more thing about VIR: On the way in, just after you clear the first guard house, hang a hard left instead of the hard right at the first "T" in the road and check out the back straight's South Paddock area.
Catching a lone DP charging up the long, straight, inclined stretch of track coming out of Turn 12 and running to Turn 14 (there is no "Turn 13") produces a great sound.
See you there. -- DC Williams for Motorsport.com