Another First Time Visit: Jason Martin Prepares for Trip to Jackson Speedway Jackson, MN -- Sept. 13, 2006 -- Jason Martin has lost count of how many tracks he has visited for the first time this season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series....
Another First Time Visit: Jason Martin Prepares for Trip to Jackson Speedway
Jackson, MN -- Sept. 13, 2006 -- Jason Martin has lost count of how many tracks he has visited for the first time this season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. For the rookie from Liberal, Kansas most weeks on the calendar are dotted by a stop or two at an oval that he has never seen before. This weekend will be no different, as he makes the trek north to Land of 10,000 Lakes to visit Jackson (Minn.) Speedway on Saturday.
Fresh off his maiden voyage to the West Coast for the Gold Rush Tour, the driver of the NOS Energy Drink/Mafia Motorsports Maxim, is ready to get back on the track in the Midwest. Before heading to new territory, the weekend will begin for him at a track he has been to and knows very well, Eagle (Neb.) Raceway, for the 1/3-mile Short Track Nationals on Friday.
The half-mile at Jackson Speedway will present a whole new challenge for Martin, who has taken a great liking to racing on fast spacious tracks. Prior to this season, most of his racing had come on bullrings, where he has had plenty of success, including winning over 50 feature races in his career. Though he is only 23 years of age, Martin has been racing for over 10 years, and is learning quickly how to adapt to new tracks.
"The biggest thing is figuring out what that place looks like or how it is going to be compared to places you have already been before," said Martin. "That's about all that we have right now. You can't really trust what a lot of people say. You just have to try to compare it and make an educated guess."
One person he can trust is Chad Kemenah, who currently leads the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt. Though he is a few years older than Martin, Kemenah aboard his Under Ground Utilities inc./RacinSoles.com Eagle, is also visiting many tracks himself for the first time and can use a lot of his knowledge from tracks in the Midwest to answer questions. After all, Kemenah is the four-time and reigning All Star Circuit of Champions titlist.
"Chad (Kemenah) is kind of in the same boat that we are," Martin said. "He has not been to a lot of these race tracks. It helps a lot that we can talk and we both can trust each other. We can understand if something is going on, or if something is working or if we are missing something. Chad and I have become really good friends, and it helps both of us."
It was by chance that Martin bumped into Kemenah earlier this season. A stroll through the pit lane will usually find the teams parked near each other and members from each of the crews helping one another out. A prime example of this was at Lebanon Valley Speedway in July, when Martin and his team could be found assisting Kemenah and his crew as they assembled a new car from the bare frame up.
"I needed some parts one day, and he (Kemenah) gave me a ride down to where Shirley Kears trailer was and we just became pretty good friends," Martin said of how he first met Kemenah. "We hit if off from there."
While heading out to the Pacific Northwest as part of the Gold Rush Tour, both Martin and Kemenah had trouble with their tow rigs. Since they travel together, they were able to help each other out and make sure they arrived at Skagit (Wash.) Speedway on time for two nights of racing action.
"It just so happened that both of our trucks broke down at the same time," Martin said, smiling now that both of the trucks are fixed. "It's nice to have other people around. It breaks the conflicts between teams if there is any. It's good to have somebody to hang out with. It's also good to have somebody if something like that (trucks breaking down) happens. It just helps everything."
While the crews of the two teams help each other out as much as they can, Martin found himself in a bit of a bind as the West Coast swing wrapped up. He was in need of another crewman and was assisted by his parents during The Harvest Classic at Calistoga Speedway. Not only did they help him prepare the car, but they were able to take in the beautiful scenery of the Napa Valley and Wine Country of Northern California as well.
"One of our crew guys decided it was best for him to leave a couple weeks ago," Martin said. "It was just me and one other guy working on the car. I flew my parents in to add an extra hand. That's the nice thing. They spend an awful lot of money and time and everything else that gets invested in this. They want to be able to come out and enjoy it once in a while."
Always with one eye on the future, Martin used the final weekend of the Gold Rush Tour to evaluate a possible crew member for next season. Dustin Moore, of Chico, Calif., could be found wrenching the No. 36 car all weekend as the team made their initial appearance at the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway.
"We're already looking at things for next year," said Martin. "We're looking for some good crew help and we want to see how everyone will associate with each other and get along with each other. That's the big thing out here, how everyone gets along. We just wanted to try it out now and have all winter to get to feel each other out and hopefully be good for next year."
It would be easy for Martin to throw his hands in the air and give up. After all, he missed the first three months of the season after suffering a severe neck injury the day before the season began. Throw in some bad luck on the track, and having the trouble with his truck in the middle of Montana, as well as losing a crew member at a critical time of the season. This does not faze Martin at all, in fact it motivates him even more and makes him work just that much harder.
"This is what I have been dreaming about since I was a little kid," he said. "I'm not going to give up on it this easy. It's not that hard. I'll just keep going and another day is another day."
For information about tickets for the race at Jackson Speedway visit www.slspromotions.com or call 815-344-2023. Adult reserved tickets for rows 14-over will be $35, while rows 4-13 will be $32, and rows 1-4 will be $28. Tickets for children ages 6-12 will be just $15, while kids 5-under will be admitted free of charge.