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.
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.”
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.”
• AUTOGRAPHS: Martin will sign autographs at Autograph Alley in the Sprint Cup garage 9:10—9:30 a.m. Sunday.
• CALIFORNIA: In 21 Sprint Cup starts at Auto Club Speedway, Martin owns one victory (1998) and six top-five finishes. He’s led 324 laps.
• MARK MARTIN FAN APPECIATION DAY: Martin will hold the ninth annual Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Day on May 4 at Mark Martin Ford and Museum in Batesville, Ark. Joining Martin this year is seven-time champion and NASCAR’s winningest driver Richard Petty. Martin will begin signing autographs at 9 a.m. with Petty joining at noon. Both will appear on stage for a question and answer session after the autographs. Fan Appreciation Day will also include a live Sirius broadcast, race cars and tours of the museum. For more information go to www.markmartinmuseum.com
• WINS: Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup, 49 Nationwide and seven Camping World Truck Series victories. He’s led 12,856 laps in Sprint Cup competition. Martin has started 857 Sprint Cup races, 236 Nationwide races and 25 truck events. He also owns 13 IROC wins in 47 starts.
• POLES: Martin owns five poles in 27 races with MWR. He is seventh on the all-time pole list with 56 poles including one in 2013 at Phoenix.
• INSIDER PROGRAM: Michael Waltrip Racing launched its Insider Program in 2013 that offers all race fans sponsor discounts, specials on merchandise, exclusive pictures and video content plus fan giveaways throughout the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Fans can access the MWR Insider Program through the CardStar application available on most smartphones. MWR will work on behalf of the fans to expand the offerings beyond just its current sponsor line-up, aggregating industry-wide deals and discounts. Fans can text MWR to 42828 to get the card for free. Offers include free headset with rental of a FanVision unit ($19.99 value) and 25% off Toyota Racing merchandise at ToyotaRacing.com.
• TWITTER: All three MWR Sprint Cup teams will carry the team’s Twitter handle @mwrteam on the roof decal. Follow the @mwrgirls who will report from the track each race day as well as give out prizes during the week.
• No. 55 DRIVERS: Martin will drive the No. 55 in 24 races, Brian Vickers in nine races and Michael Waltrip in three races.
NAME: Mark Martin
HOMETOWN: Batesville, AR
RESIDENCE: Daytona Beach, FL