From the Bayou to the “Land of Oz”, NASCAR Nationwide driver Hal Martin makes his series debut this weekend at Kansas Speedway. He hails from Galliano, LA, which is located a little over 1.5 hours south of New Orleans, LA. This 26-year-old talented phenomenon began his racing career at the age of 15 and has worked his way up through a variety of racing series.
“Ragin’ Cajun” is a nickname that was given to Martin due to his racing style and competitive nature along with the fact of him being a sixth-generation Cajun Louisianan. His motto is “just go out and win."
He began his career racing go-karts, winning the 2004 Louisiana State 80cc Shifter Kart Championship, then moved on to competing in late models (Pro, Super and ASA). In 2007, Martin won the Mobile International Speedway Track Championship in the Pro Late Model Division and the Louisiana State Championship. Through these successful experiences, he was able to move forward to competing in the ARCA Series. His competition tracks were located throughout the southeast and Gulf Coast areas.
“I raced at a lot of different tracks in 2009 and started branching out. I also raced at a number of tracks in the Midwest while driving in the ASA Late Model Series as well as getting a start in the Camping World Truck Series at Memphis. Then I began racing in the ARCA Series and in my second start finished third in Chicago - that was the game changer in my career. It really propelled my career forward and I got a lot of national attention from that.”
Over the last two years (2010-2011), Martin has raced in a select number of ARCA races and began working on his full-time Nationwide deal approximately one year ago. His ARCA racing statistics (2009-2011) include one top five, three top 10s, average start 13th and average finish 19th. He has participated in a total of 11 series races for a total of 865 laps.
In regards to mentorship for this debut weekend, crew chief John Quinn has been the number one go-to person. “He has been in this sport for such a long time and worked for some of the big name teams as a crew chief so I've been leaning on him from a background perspective. Because I’m a mechanical engineer as well [he earned a B.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Orleans], I understand a lot about the setups on the race car from the technical side,” said Martin.
“Mike Bliss is one of my teammates from Tri-Star Motorsports so I've been questioning him as far as the driver side of things – what I need to be doing, what I shouldn't be doing and how we should be approaching the course from different parts of the track.” Outside of those two mentors, he also credits his father with keeping him calm.
Out of all of the tracks that Martin has raced on throughout his 11-year career, he especially has loved racing at Chicagoland Speedway. “There is something about that track, I love that track. It was where I had my second start and best finish in ARCA. Every time I go back there, I raced ARCA there last year as well, we have a really good day there. I just enjoy that track – there is no true straightaway there, the back straightaway is actually curved. I enjoy that facility, it is a great area and there is a lot that goes on there. The track is very competitive and it is multi-grooved, you can really race well there.”
When this talented driver has some down time from his busy racing schedule, he enjoys golfing, remote-control racing and mountain biking. Two of his favorite Louisiana dishes are okra seafood gumbo and fried shrimp. Martin’s favorite spectator sport outside of racing is football, more specifically the National Football League (NFL) and his team – New Orleans Saints. Although the franchise currently holds a record of 1-4, they have a motto that says "Finish Strong" and this is what Martin holds true to his competitive nature in racing.
I would like to thank Hal Martin for allowing me to interview him on behalf of Skirts and Scuffs. Additionally, I would like to wish him the best of luck in his debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway. He is definitely a driver that you will want to keep your eye out for in the 2013 season.
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Fast Lane Poetry," which was published April 2011. Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.