Harold Martin Looks for a Successful Title Defense in Edmonton For the first time in his IHRA Pro Modified career, Harold Martin will arrive at a Hooters Drag Racing Series national event as the defending champion. One year ago, Martin and his...
Harold Martin Looks for a Successful Title Defense in Edmonton
For the first time in his IHRA Pro Modified career, Harold Martin will arrive at a Hooters Drag Racing Series national event as the defending champion. One year ago, Martin and his ACDelco Pontiac Racing team celebrated the Fourth of July in impressive fashion, setting both ends of the track record in powering to the winner's circle at the Western RV Rocky Mountain Nationals in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
After qualifying second at Budweiser Motorsports Park, Martin opened by eliminating Glen Kerunsky in the first round before scoring dramatic wins over Pro Mod stalwarts Mitch and Quain Stott to advance to his third final round of the season. Squaring off against No. 1 qualifier Rick DiStefano, Martin overcame a severe case of tire shake to reach the finish line first and claim his first Pro Mod "Ironman" trophy.
"That was an exciting and very memorable weekend for the entire team," recalled Martin. "Heading in to the event, we were faced with the challenge of trying to find a competitive set-up for an altitude racetrack that had tuning conditions outside of those we would see during our normal schedule.
"I vividly remember beating myself up beforehand, worrying about coming up with the right strategy both engine-wise and car wise. Therefore, it was huge for our ACDelco team to respond to the challenges the way we did, scoring an important and emotional victory.
"It feels like it was just yesterday, so much of which is attributed to the tremendous fan support we have received from over the world. From e-mail to people coming up to us at the races, we are continually reminded of it. It was a very special time, and one we look forward to repeating this weekend."
Even though this year's edition will be held one week earlier, Martin and his ACDelco crew return to Edmonton ready to duplicate their winning performance from one year ago and successfully defend their title.
"We really are excited to get back to Edmonton to see if we can repeat our performance and go beyond," said Martin. "At the same time, we have a huge degree of humbleness in front of us, because we will be facing a newly resurfaced racetrack, which make us wonder what it will be like, how it will differ from the previous surface, and what changes we will have to make in our set-up to compensate. Clearly our strategy will be to utilize as much of the package that was so successful last year, while at the same time being flexible to adjust to any changes in the environment."
Racing in Edmonton Offers Unique Challenges
The IHRA's annual trek to the Alberta province poses a series of unusual challenges for the regulars on the Hooters Drag Racing Series. The first is the lengthy drive most teams face in order to reach Budweiser Motorsports Park. For example, even though the Martin Motorsports shop is located in the northern part of the country in New Hudson, MI, the crew must still travel nearly 2000 miles to reach the Canadian quarter-mile, a trip that has already proven eventful for the ACDelco crew.
"This race offers a quick reflection of the things that go on behind the scenes at a race team that most people do not appreciate," explained Martin. "They see the beautiful race transporters at the track, and do not realize the tremendous effort required to get them there ready to race. Over and above the late nights spent getting the race car ready, there is the planning for the long haul out to Edmonton, where you ask your team to travel west for three days, and make a hard right turn at Montana, and drive another few days north.
"For example, each day throughout the trip, I will call the crew to check on them, hoping that since I haven't heard from them, all is well. However, when you don't get an answer, you vacillate between hoping they may still be asleep or are in an area with no cell phone service and worrying about something being wrong.
"In this case, it was a combination of the two. When I did hear back from them, they told me that they had driven through a mountainous area with little phone service, but they also had a problem with one of the axles on the trailer, and that one of the wheels was quite literally on fire. Fortunately, they put the fire out and made it to a service stop thirty miles up the road, and got back on the road again. It was not a unique experience, by any means, but it does show the travails the team can go through just getting to the track."
In addition, despite the late June race date, competitors will encounter temperatures that are more like early spring, ranging from the high 40's at night to the low 70's during the day. It will be a stern test, to be sure, but one that Martin and his entire team are looking forward to.
"This track is unlike any other in the tuning challenges it presents, and we will take several new perspectives to evaluate it," details Martin. "Once we get to Edmonton, we will spend an extensive amount of time walking the track, trying to get a handle on what has changed and what adjustments we need to make in our race program.
"In addition, we will spend a tremendous amount of time reading our gauges and weather station to better understand the conditions. We also spend a great deal of time with our engine program, and the EFI system in particular to see how we can adapt it to the environment. Finally, we take along additional equipment that we don't normally use on-site to evaluate the differences between there and what we encounter at sea level. We prepare for this event more like an expedition than a race.
"Even so, we are very upbeat about this weekend. We are returning to a track where we have done well in the past, and based on our performance at the last event, we feel as if we are closing in on an opportunity to win. If we can combine the confidence from last year's performance with the momentum we have built in recent events, and add in a little good fortune, we feel we are a win waiting to happen."
Harold Martin Fast Facts:
* Career best elapsed time: 6.183 seconds, Indianapolis, IN 9/04
* Career best top speed: 230.13 mph, Indianapolis, IN 9/04
* Won his first IHRA Pro Modified national event on July 4, 2004 at the Western RV Rocky Mountain Nationals in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
* Finished a career-best third in the 2004 Hooters Drag Racing Series Pro Modified Championship Standings
* Nicknamed the "EFI Wizard" for his expertise with electronic fuel injection, including the revolutionary system in his ACDelco Pro Mod Grand Am, which he designed.
* Former GM engineer and holder of 10 worldwide patents