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NASCAR Winston Cup Preview

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Winston Cup

NASCAR Winston Cup Preview

Mark Martin
January 18, 2003


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

Q. We have Mark Martin. Mark, I think in 2002, probably the most significant thing, Mark Martin, if there was any doubt in his mind that he can be competitive with all of the guys on the Winston Cup Championship circuit, Mark Martin found that out last year for sure.

MARK MARTIN: Well, you know, I have been racing a long time. It was just another example of what I have been through a number of times in my career. I can't, you know, if my car is not fast, I can't win with it. We had a spell there when we weren't very fast and thanks to the Viagra Team and Ben Leslie, they acknowledged to change all of that. For me in 2002, in probably every way 2002 was the best, you know, year of my life, or in my career, the best year in my career for a number of reasons, a lot of reasons. You know, I'm just very grateful and thankful to the people that have supported me like Pfizer and Viagra, Ford, all of the years we're coming up on 20 years of being with Ford, a lot of things like that. Jack Roush - there are a lot of things to be grateful for. Although I'm not an eternal optimist, I do feel that I have an awful lot to be thankful for.

Q. One of the things people like to do is try to predict. You told us you can't do that. When you look at this season, can you remember a season when there is as many guys, that they all have a shot at the Championship this year?

MARK MARTIN: I think they have a good reason for that. Last year, if they look at last year and assess how that looked, then I would say that this would be the year, easily be a year where the most ever thought that they had and rightly it should be true.

Q. Are you at all worried about them adding the fifth team for this year?

MARK MARTIN: You want to know the truth? I'm too busy to worry about that. I got too much going on to worry about that. I'm going to take a moment here and focus on that so that I can answer that question honestly. No, I'm not. It's very different than it was in the early 90's when we added a second and a third team in the mid-90's was when we added the third team. We didn't have nearly the structure, you know, that we have now, with the structure that we have, I don't think it would matter if we added five more. It wouldn't matter in a negative way. We have the structure there at Roush Racing now to support ourselves and all of our endeavors and some others as well and we are involved with the Wood Brothers and some other projects as well so there is plenty of structure there. Jack Roush is a brilliant man, Jeff Smith is a brilliant man. Jeff Smith wouldn't be there if Jack Roush wasn't so smart so we are all very fortunate to have one another, I think. We have a lot of really bright business people that understand how to structure things and make business work, you know. Not just a bunch of racers. You got to have a bunch of racers, but when you start getting as big as Roush is, you need more than that. You need people that really understand how to make a business work.

Q. When you came down to Winston Cup, Bobby Allison was probably the same age as you are today, you kind of sit back and look at the last 22 years and ask yourself where does it all go; does it all go by in a blur; how do you assess all of that?

MARK MARTIN: I don't know. You and I wouldn't want to bother a lot of people in this room we can set off in the corner and talk a lot about that stuff. There are a lot of good times and a lot of good people. I had some good relationships with Darrell Waltrip and Allison. It's changed a lot since then, and when I first came to NASCAR there were some old timers there that I didn't much want to hear about how it used to be and -- I didn't much want to hear about that. And I try not to bore everyone. I try not to do that and be one of those old-timers talking how it didn't used to be like this. Getting off in the corner with someone, I can go on a long time, but I try not to bore the young guys with that.

Q. When you came down you were your own team owner?

MARK MARTIN: Yes, but I wasn't very bright either. I was only a team owner for one year, and then I was bankrupt. I was pretty dumb; I haven't really demonstrated that I was much brighter on occasion since then. I don't know why that was such a big surprise. But you know, I can't imagine what this thing is going to be like 20 years from now. It's scary. I will tell you in 10 years, this sport is getting ready to change again just as much as it has in the past 10 and in the next 10. It's coming largely on the brilliance of Bill France and the people -- and the France Family and the people surrounding the structure that is at NASCAR. I don't agree with everything they do. You know that. But I'm going to tell you something, those guys have done it. If you look at this series and any other kind of racing and any other kind of sport where NASCAR's continued to grow and most of the other sports have continued to decline, it's incredible. I have a lot of respect for NASCAR.

Q. Mark, several guys have said today that racing is more and more about the cars now as opposed to the drivers. Do you agree with that and is that a good thing?

MARK MARTIN: I agree with that. You know, that question is really a double-edge sword. I'm an old-timer. You know, I don't think that's the greatest thing on one hand. On the other hand, it could be a very great thing. I told you how I feel about it, but on the other hand, I wanted you to know that it's opened up opportunities for so many other people like 20 years ago, there were only eight people on a race team and no young bright engineers. Engineers weren't welcome to work on NASCAR cars 20 years ago in 1981 or '82 when I was running my own team. Now, look at the opportunity. It exciting for a driver to get to race NASCAR, think of all of these kids in school or in college that have a desire to get in Motor Sports and what is really the highest form right now in a lot of ways the highest recognized, NASCAR racing. There is a lot of opportunity. There are a hundred guys on each one of these race teams. So you can always find something good in change. It won't ever be like it was 20 years ago. 20 years ago it won't be like it is today. So there are some really great things that are happening along with the support and along with the change, but one of the negatives I think is that it's more about the equipment, it's more about the car and less about the driver. There is no way you really can't fix that that I know of.

Q. Mark, I know you hate these kind of questions, the what-ifs and hypotheticals, but if there is one thing from last year with all of this success, if there is one negative thing that you can take back that may have been the deciding factor for you to win the Championship, what might that one thing have been?

MARK MARTIN: I really don't like to go there. I would be a lot better off if I didn't answer that question. I don't need to do anything that might haunt me.

Q. (Inaudible)

MARK MARTIN: I have something in mind but I will keep my mouth shut. It's not about the 25-point thing. It's something a little more personal. There are probably negative ramifications of some sort that could come of my answering that question so I won't take that chance.

Q. You said it will be scary 10 or 20 years from now in Winston Cup Racing. What do you think the biggest change will be? What do you think will make it scary 10 to 20 years from now?

MARK MARTIN: It's scary for me to think about what racing will be like, that's how I meant that. Technology. Obviously, most of us in this room, aren't the technology wizards that our kids are already becoming. I think the sport is going to be really incredibly technical. And that is something that, you know, I'm not a wizard on. But now you know my son is, he already knows a lot more than I do about computers and how to, you know, how to make them work and navigate through things than I do. I see that happening with all of the race teams, more technical people, more engineers, more computers and what have you, and the growth of the sport from a sponsor's standpoint, the commercialism, the level of involvement from manufactures is going to grow, and you know, all of those things, it's going to be, it's going to continue to change.



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