Unbuckled: Getting to Know Stephen Martin


Hometown: Craftsbury Common, VT

Division: Allen Lumber Street Stocks

Car: Martin Motorsports #01 Ford Mustang

2017 Season: Finished 10th in Street Stock points; Street Stock Rookie of the Year


What are your favorite non-racing hobbies?

Working on the race cars, mostly. I also love hunting in-season. Me and dad both went up to Maine this year, and we both ended up getting deer within the first three days we were up there. That was pretty special for both of us, especially the first time going up. I spend a lot of time working in the garage as well, and I also play basketball.

What do you do for school and work?

I go to Craftsbury Academy. It’s small Division-4 school; there’s 200 kids K-12, so it’s pretty small. I’m a sophomore there. I don’t do much work in the wintertime because of sports, but in the summer I mow lawns, work in the garage, and that kind of stuff.

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

We’ll be back in the Street Stock division. I think we’re going to do the four-race series for the Street Stocks at Speedway 51 and Thunder Road as well. Obviously one of the goals is to win a championship, so that’s what we’ll be shooting for in both.

What was the highlight of the 2017 season for you?

Getting Rookie of the Year was definitely one of the best highlights, but winning the Marvin Johnson Memorial race was also pretty special for me. Being one of the youngest drivers to ever win at Thunder Road was another highlight. But I would say Rookie of the Year was at the top of the charts.

What was the battle for Rookie of the Year like for you? You had a pretty big lead at one point, but it got tight near the end of the year.

We got off to a really good start because Logan (Powers) had a lot of car troubles, and he wasn’t getting the finishes that he needed. But once he began starting up front, he started getting a lot more good finishes, and I was struggling at the end of the year to get those good finishes, and he finally started closing the gap. Going into the last race, I had to finish just behind him or just in front of him to be able to win – and I ended up spinning out in that race. I think I had to finish in the top-10 to be assured Rookie of the Year, and I ended up coming back to finish seventh after some other drivers wrecked out. It was definitely nerve-wracking toward the end of that race to see if I was going to get it.

What did it mean to you to win the award?

It was pretty special to be Rookie of the Year, because I know it goes in the record books forever, and you only get to compete for it once. It was special to come out on top between two young drivers.

How did you get started in racing?

I started going to the race track when I was, I think, five years old, watching dad in the Street Stock division. Once he moved up to Tigers, I started going a little more, and we started talking about getting me into the Daredevils at Speedway 51. So one year I started mowing lawns, and I finally got enough money that I was able to buy Jamie Davis’s old car. I went into the Daredevil division with that car, and I was really successful in that. I moved up to Street Stocks the next year (2016), and I was competitive in that. And then last year Cris Michaud let me race at Thunder Road for the first time.

What’s it like both working on race cars with your dad and then having both of you racing at the track every night?

It gets pretty intense – sometimes we can argue a lot at the race track. But I’ve started to learn a lot more about setting a car up, so he doesn’t have to do as much for me, and I service it by myself. I pretty much do all the setup now with my crew, so he mainly talks to me about how the car’s going and that kind of stuff. We’re mostly able to just work on our own cars now and stay out of arguments. (Laughs)

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

Definitely my dad. I’ve been watching him race since I was little, and watching him do it right. He’s just a good racer. He got the Ed Carroll Sportsmanship Award twice in the Street Stocks; that’s something I look up to and something I hope I can do sometime.

Can you tell me more about your family?

I’ve got my dad, obviously. My mom’s always up in the stands, and I have a sister Abbie that’s always at the race track; she hasn’t gone a week without being there. And then I’ve got Jesse, one of my crew guys, who’s kind of grown into the family the last couple years. He’s been on the crew, and he’s the one that sets the car up with me and does everything else to get ready.

What’s something that you’re really hoping to accomplish at some point in your life?

I’d really like to be the next Bobby Therrien and win championships in all three divisions. That’s a goal of mine that I’ve been wanting to do since I was little.

But first you’ve got to get one, right?

Right. Maybe this year we can make it happen.

What’s your dream vacation?

I think I’d go to either Talladega, Daytona, or Homestead just watch NASCAR. I’d bring the family with me, go down and watch a weekend full of racing, and do a whole bunch of other stuff wherever we go.

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

Definitely country music – that’s pretty much all we listen to. I like the new country and all the new artists, but we’ll listen to pretty much anything.

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

I think I’d appear on “Last Man Standing” with Tim Allen. It’s a pretty funny show; I’ve watched it for a couple years now. I just like him as an actor, and the show itself is pretty funny and fun to watch. I think I’d have to be somebody that works with him. He seems to have a lot of fun with the people that work with him.

What sports do you follow or play?

We watch pretty much every sport. We watch a lot of basketball, we watch pretty much every football game, a lot of college basketball, and we watch baseball as well. But we mostly pay attention to basketball, and this is also my first year on the varsity team at Craftsbury Academy. We’ve done alright this year. We’re in the middle of the standings; we’re not great, but we’re not terrible.

Who is your biggest supporter at the track?

I’d have to say my mom. She’s there every week shaking in the stands when we go out to race. I don’t think she’s every missed a race, actually. When I went to the races and couldn’t go in the pits, I’d always sit next to her and watch her, and she’d bite her nails off, and she’d shake, and she’d always be nervous about what Dad was doing on the track.

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

My dad. Obviously he’s the one that got me into it. When I started going to the race track, I automatically knew that I wanted to race. I actually wanted to race go-karts, but that never ended up happening, actually. (Laughs) When I first started out, he was the one that would set the car up, and he’s given me advice and really told me to go out on the track and have fun.

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

“If you work your hardest, the results will come.” My dad gave that to me one night when I was worried about losing Rookie of the Year. Looking back, I would say that he was just trying to tell me not to worry about anybody else and just try my best, and things would eventually work out the way I needed them to.

Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?

I hope I can still be racing, and hopefully I’ve won at least one championship by then. And I would hope I’d be out of high school by then, working, and in college getting certified to be an auto mechanic. I’m hoping to either do something in racing technology or be an auto mechanic like my dad.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

I’d use some of the money to go on one of my vacations – I’d probably actually go on all three of them. But we probably wouldn’t change too much overall. We’d buy some more race cars, upgrade what we have, and really just use a lot of it towards racing.