CORNELIUS, N.C. — No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota, driver Mark Martin has more on his mind than just winning Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The future Hall of Famer and fitness advocate is overseeing the construction of Michael Waltrip Racing’s new 7,500-square-foot training facility. The multi-level gym at the team’s Cornelius, N.C. shop will further the skills of pit crew members. The facility includes an inlaid car silhouette so crews can practice agility drills around a car, free weights, weight machines, Cross Fit elements, cardio equipment as well as locker rooms and offices. Construction should begin this week with completion expected within 90 days.

We hope to have the nicest facility in the sport.

Mark Martin

New MWR fitness facility: "I'm really enthused and excited about what we're working on getting at MWR. This has been a 10-month crusade to get the green light. It's fun. It's my second passion. I’ve been consulting with the strength staff and the coaching staff picking out equipment and designing the layout. We hope to have the nicest facility in the sport. You spend a lot of money on equipment in the sport and I think you are starting to see the teams invest even more in human performance."

Does physical fitness provide an advantage in this sport? “That’s a real tough question. I used to answer that question by saying, ‘I’m not sure,’ because there’s not a gauge on people’s forehead that says they’re doing 100 now and they were doing 50 before. I don’t know. I just believe that physical conditioning makes you better at any single thing you do, whether it’s going to the grocery store or what. Physical conditioning can make you better. It can make you better physically. It can make you better mentally. It can. Does it? I don’t know. It can though. I don’t know the science behind it and all that, but I just believe that it can make a difference. Certainly it makes a difference in other facets of your life, so why wouldn’t it make a difference if you were driving a race car?”

How did you become a fitness fanatic? “I always wanted to do it before I got started. I got started January 1988, but before January 1988 I had to work in the race shop on building my own cars and working with my guys. All through my career I had to work day and night and I didn’t have time to carve out to go to the gym. When I signed with Jack Roush, I didn’t have to spend as much time in the shop. I had time to carve that out, so I was able to pursue it. I had always wanted to do it anyway.”

Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

What is your normal workout routine? “Right now, it’s five days a week -- five or four depending on what the schedule is, but usually five days a week. I only lift weights an hour and try not to let my weight lifting last beyond an hour because it’s incredibly intense and somewhat counterproductive to go beyond 60 minutes.”

California: “I’m very proud of how we’ve raced so far this season. We’re fourth in owner points so that shows that we have been doing a lot of things right. Brian (Vickers) and the guys struggled at Bristol but turned it into an eighth-place finish. That’s what good teams do. All of us believe we can run even better. Fontana is a great track. I love the room you have to race.”

Michael Waltrip Racing