SPRINGTOWN, Texas — Ask anybody who's ever chased one, and they'll tell you it's a tedious grind. Yet for a racer who digs deep, runs a ton of races, wins several and pulls off a National points title, the pride is immeasurable. It takes more than a good car; it takes talent, stamina and years of experience.
For 40-year-old oval veteran Randy Martin, going after a National title wasn't the original goal for 2023. Yet as the season progressed, he decided to go for it. When all was said and done, Martin had earned 24 wins, 45 top-five and 48 top-10 finishes in 53 starts along with the IMCA National crown.
“I pretty much ran the same setup from Week 1,” Martin said. “I put a new setup under it to start the season, and we hot lapped it at Kennedale before the first race. The car was really good even then. I ran that same setup all the way up until we went to Boone for the Nationals.
“I changed it a little bit for Boone, and have been on that setup ever since. I took this whole year very seriously; we kept fresh shocks and good tires on it all season, which helps. Races are won in the shop; we worked on the car every week so that every time we unloaded, it was ready to compete.”
His efforts earned him the distinction of being the first Texan to win a Sport Compact National title.
Martin has driven a variety of cars in his career, with a fair amount of success in most of them.
“I started out racing a Modified back in 2005,” he explained. “I raced it for a while, won quite a few races and a couple of championships. I switched to a Stock Car after that, and did alright in that class. I took a break while my kids went to High School, but built my son a Stock Car before he graduated.”
Turns out, that may have been a bit too much for the next generation of Martin family racers.
“He wasn't really ready for it, so we built him a Sport Compact. That's how I ended up in this division; so we could race together and I could guide him with setups and handling. I've just been in love with cars my whole life; and I fell in love with this class.
“It's cheap, and it's fun. It gives me everything I need in racing, and I've raced nearly every type of car.”
While most of the attention on any given Friday or Saturday night is on the big classes, competition in the mighty Sport Compacts is not to be overlooked. Within its boundaries exists a fine mix of talent.
“I've settled into Compacts because they are a blast to drive and still pretty racy,” Martin said. “You have a mix of young racers looking to make a name for themselves and some older guys who are happy to stay right where they are. The kids have no fear, and the older guys have plenty of experience.
“So it ends up being pretty competitive. There are a lot of hidden gems in the Sport Compact division.”
When Martin puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he climbs into a very well-crafted machine.
“I got a top-notch roll cage from Damon Hammond at Wild Child Race Cars in Burleson,” he said. “He does excellent work and is just a great guy. I put the car together myself from there, and it's been good to me since it hit the track. It's got an old used motor I put together, but it sure ran strong all year long.”
Along with his years of experience and well-crafted race car, Martin has a ton of support in his corner.
“First off, I need to thank my wife, Tabitha, for her support during my very busy year,” he said. “I'll also thank my daughter, Madison; and son, Korbyn. I appreciate my great crew, which includes Brian Newcomer, Blake Andrus, Jen Miller, William Creese, Ronnie Gaston and Joseph Woodarski.
“I'll also take this opportunity to thank my great sponsors; including 52 Fabrication, RCM Trucking, Jacksboro Towing & Recovery; STR Transport, Gaston Racing, KO Racetek and Creese Epoxy. I'm proud to have them on board, and couldn't do this without them.”
With that busy, hectic championship season in the books, Martin says he'll take it a little easier in 2024.
“I won't be running anywhere near 53 races again next year,” he said with conviction. “That takes a lot out of you, and of course has an effect on the family as well. I plan to just skip around to a few tracks, probably Southern Oklahoma Speedway, Boyd and a few others.
“It was cool to be the first Texas native to claim that National title, but next year we'll stay a little closer to home and probably run maybe 30 races or so. I can combine family time with racing, and still have all kinds of fun. I'm proud of what we accomplished, but now we can ease off the gas a little for 2024.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Mike Frieri