Unbuckled: Getting to Know Mike Martin


Hometown: Craftsbury Common, VT

Division: Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers

Car: Martin Motorsports #01 Chevy Monte Carlo

2017 Season: Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series Champion; Finished 5th in Flying Tiger points (1 win)


What are your favorite non-racing hobbies?

Hunting, fishing, and working in my sugaring place. I think this is my seventh year sugaring. Everybody’s involved in that. My Gram, my mother, my wife, and my kids…we’re all in it together. We started out kind of small with 2,500 taps, and I think this year we’re going to be around 12,000. My hobby has turned into a full-time second job.

 What do you do for work?

I have my own auto repair business. (Fellow Tiger driver) Brendan Moodie works for me full-time as well. I started it in 2001, and I’ve been going at it since. It’s a small two-bay shop, and we do general automotive and whatever else we need to do to get things done.

What are your current racing plans for 2018? Do you have any goals?

We’ll be racing full time at Thunder Road in the Tiger division again, and the ultimate goal, of course, is to win the track championship. I’ve been semi-close a couple of times where we were in the running and then fell out late, and I just hope to be able to stay in that position where we’re in the hunt, win some races, and have some fun. My son Stephen will be racing full-time, too, so hopefully we’ll have a lot of fun with that as well.

What’s the dynamic like between you and Stephen with both of you racing on a Thursday night?

It’s obviously changed things a little, because I have to worry about what’s going on with his car. But he’s learned to do his own thing, too, so I don’t have to be over there every second doing everything. It’s been pretty neat to watch him race, and I figure he’s going to be doing what I’m doing before too long as far as driving in my car – or at least in my division. (Laughs)

What was the highlight of the 2017 season for you?

Winning the second leg of the Triple Crown Series was pretty awesome for us, and then winning the championship in it was great as well. It’s not quite the same as winning a full-season title, but it was still pretty cool. It’s a longer-distance race series, so it was kind of like when we had the Tiger Tour, just with all the races at Thunder Road. Obviously I still want to win the regular season title as well!

How did you get started in racing?

I started going to the track as a kid and watching, and then I was on a Late Model team helping out. I kind of got out of it for a little while right after college, but then Thunder Road was starting the original Junkyard Warriors, and I figured that was an affordable thing to get started with, and my cousin and I both started that year. He raced just the one year, and I moved on from there – moved up the ranks one division at a time.

Can you tell me more about your family?

My mother is there (at the track) every week. My father passed away in January 2014, but he was there every single week. He was a fan as a kid, too, and maybe that’s what got me started originally, because he started taking me to the races. My sister goes to the track quite regularly, my wife Fran is there every week, and my daughter Abigail is in the pits pretty much every week with me.

Do you have anyone that you consider a role model or that you take after?

Probably my dad. He had a hard-working ethic like an old-time Vermonter had, where all they knew was to just keep going and do what had to get done.

What’s your dream vacation?

I don’t know if it’s a dream vacation, but my wife and I have been to Las Vegas three times, and we have a lot of fun there. So I’d probably want to go back there again – it’s just a good time.

If someone turned on the radio/media player in your car, what would they most likely be listening to?

Quite likely country music, but I’m not opposed to listening to older time rock and roll as well. I’m not very fussy – most any country is good.

If you were asked to appear on a TV show, which one would you want it to be and why?

That’s a good one. I guess Family Feud. Why not – it’s on all the time. (Laughs) It’s just a good show to watch – it’s a fun show. I’d want to go up against anybody that had anything to do with racing.

What other sports do you follow or play?

In high school I played baseball, basketball, and soccer. I like baseball, I like basketball, and I like football – as far as watching sports, I like watching all of them. I’m a big Yankees fan, but most any sport that’s on TV besides racing I’ll watch as well, especially when it comes around playoff time like with college basketball.

Who is your biggest supporter at the track?

My wife and my daughter. They’re very supportive of what we do. My daughter just loves being there, and all our wives have to be pretty supportive, or we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your racing career?

Back in the day when I was going to watch racing, I was a big Junior Hanley fan. Not that he was a role model per se, but he just achieved excellence every single week, and that gave me something to strive for with myself. Junior Hanley and Robbie Crouch both – they were the top dogs back in the day, and they were at their best every single race they went to, and that’s what we strive to do as well.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

When you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and come back stronger the next week. That doesn’t necessarily have to be attributed to racing either – whenever your chips are down, just get back to the grindstone, dig in, and come back even stronger than before.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I imagine I’ll be in more of an owner role racing-wise in five years, as far as owning a car for Stephen. For life in general, I don’t see a lot changing. I just hope to be healthy and having fun going to the race track. I’m hoping to have my other hobby expand some more as well so maybe I’m spending a little less time in the garage. Hopefully we can get a little bigger in sugaring every year and spend a little more time in the woods where it’s quiet.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Probably not much would change, other than we’d have a little more fun hunting and a little more fun racing. We’d be able to spend a little more time and money at both. But we’d still get up and go to work every day, and life wouldn’t change that much overall.