Marty Clark

 
FEATURE LINE-UP      POLE SITTER:  Marty Clark

DRIVER:

Marty Clark

 

HOMETOWN:

Russell KS

 

AGE: 41

 

NICKNAME:

“Russell Rocket”

 

MARITAL STATUS:

Married

 

FAMILY

Wife: Meridith

Daughter: Miranda

Daughter: Maci

 

OCCUPATION:

Judge

Driver

 

YEARS RACED:

24

 

HOMETRACK:

Elmwood Park Speedway

Norton KS

 

   DIVISION:

Open Wheeled

Modified

 

HOBBIES:

Travel

 

For more information

on Marty visit his website.

 

www.martyclark.tripod.com

 

CAR NUMBER:

17

 

CAR DESCRIPTION:

Wt/Rd/Yl-Or#

 

CHASSIS:

BMS

 

ENGINE BUILDER:

Diamond

 

CREW CHIEF:

Aaron Talbott

 

CREW:

Janae

Don

Jerry

 

SPONSORS:

 

Discovery Drilling, L&M Well Service, Nelson-Downing Oil Company, Keeler Chiropractic, R&M Heating & Cooling, Don’s Plumbing, O’ Ryan Electric,

Jerry’s Barber & Style, PC Services, Klema’s Hometown Market, Budweiser Racing, A1 Plank & Scaffold, Lewis Automotive Group, Golden Plains Trucking, Continental Barber & Style, Hess Services, LaSada Sporting Clays, Steinert Liquor, Gene’s Service, Golden Hydra Drilling, Toys 4 Trucks, Elks “Hugs Are Better Than Drugs,”

Dean’s Auto Repair, Auto Word, Mark Ptacek State Farm Agent.

 

For sponsorship information you can contact Marty at

martyclarkracing@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Photo by Red

 

MAKING AN IMPACT ON KIDS ON AND OFF THE TRACK

 Marty Clark is no stranger to dirt racing. His father was a car owner and Marty grew up in the race shop, and at the track.  “Dad always said, it was a good for us kids to be in the race shop, he knew where we were, what we were doing, and that kept us out of trouble.” Marty recalls his first racing experience when he was 3 or 4 years old. His family would attend races to watch his dad’s car compete. When Marty and his family went to the track, kids were not allowed in the pits, nor were women.  “The only time I was allowed in the pits, was the times my mother was unable to attend a race, and then I had to remain in the back of dad’s truck.”  Racing has changed over the years and spectators including kids have more access to the pit area. This is especially important to Clark, because it is the kids who he wants to make a positive impression on. 

Marty is a judge in his secular occupation.  His “day job” covers many areas of the judicial system, but he specializes in the area of abused and neglected children. It will only take you a minute to imagine all the things this driver/judge must see or hear in the court room pertaining to the abuse of children. I asked Clark if working on his race car, after a tuff day in the courtroom was therapeutic.  His reply was, “it can be.”  “After a tuff day, it isn’t the night to change the motor, because that takes my complete focus. But it would be a great night to do some damage repairs, like beating the fenders back into shape.” stated Marty. Although Clark shared this “therapy” with me in a light hearted manner, he is very serious about reaching kids. 

Armed with many cases of pop, various anti-drug coloring books, and when he can find them, some Clark candy bars, Marty and team #17 wait as the kids flood the pit area to seek them out. “I don’t win enough races to build an adult fan base, so I have to bribe the kids,” chuckled Clark.  Marty’s real motivation for his actions isn’t to gain fans, but rather stems back to what he was taught at home.  “If kids are interested in racing, parents have to bring them, which results in families spending time together.” shared Marty.  A large part of Clark’s racing mission takes place off the track, where his actions in the pits influence kids to stay off of drugs, and families to spend quality time together. The rest of his mission is spent on the track which he takes just as seriously.  

Marty started racing in 1984 competing in the Road Runner division, which is similar to the modern day Stock division. With a monetary investment of around $180, Clark hit the track to gain some valuable experience. “My first few years of competing were a great way to get out there and learn.” “I gained a lot of insight on what makes a car go fast, if we ran 2nd or 3rd and made $80, we thought we had it made.” shard Marty. 

From the Road Runner division Clark moved to the Limited Sportsman class, and ran mostly at The Speed Bowl, Red Cloud NE.   

When I asked Clark why the #17 painted on the door of his car, he replied. “In 1986, I thought about using the #86 for the car.” “No one could agree on a number.” “When we did come to an agreement we choose the #6.” “Once the #6 was on the car it looked more like the #9, so we flipped it over.” “I ran the #9 for a long time.”  “In 1994 Western Auto came aboard as my sponsor, they wanted me to run the same colors and use the same number as their NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip.” “I complied and have kept the #17 ever since.” 

From 1990-1996 Clark ran in the Late Model class at three tracks in his home state of Kansas, Rock’s County Speedway, Stockton KS, Osborne Speedway, Osborne KS, and Elmwood Park Speedway, Norton Kansas, and traveled to The Speed Bowl, Red Cloud NE. One of his memorable achievements came during his 1996 season, when he made the feature race of the famous Hutchinson Nationals at Kansas  State Fairgrounds, Hutchinson KS. During Marty’s late model days he acquired several feature wins throughout his six year campaign. As the opportunities to ran a late model in his home state faded out, Clark made the move to the modified division. 

1997 was Clark’s first year to compete in the modified division, and is the class he continues to race in today. Marty mostly races in his home state, but does travel when he gets the chance.  He has competed in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and attended the Boone Nationals, Boone IA. There is no event quite like the Boone Nationals for most modified drivers, from the atmosphere, to the stiff competition, to the many heat races leading to the main event.  Marty had this to say about his National memories, “Boone puts on a nice show,” “the competition is always tuff,” “I remember one particular year, I was forced to run in a B main; it was 3:20 am when I rolled the car out on the track,” shared Clark. The days can be long, the racing intense, and that is only a couple of factors that makes this event the coveted win by most modified drivers, Clark included. 

Marty’s 2004 season was one of the most memorable and eventful years that he recalls.  The excitement started earlier in the year when he lost his first engine, not because of mechanical failure, but when another competitor put a claim on it. (In the case of a claimed engine, the engine owner is required to sell his engine to the competitor making the claim.) The same motor that was once claimed from Marty, took him a year and half to claim back.  2004 was also a year of stout competition with around 40 consistent competitors for Clark to do battle with through-out the season. Marty’s most memorable moment came when he earned a well deserved championship.  “The championship had just cost me my second motor of the season, this time to mechanical failure.”  “I really didn’t mind the engine loss as much, once I knew I had the points rapped up,” stated Clark. Marty ended the year with an IMCA Kansas State Champion, Oberlin Speedway, Oberlin KS Track Champion.  This may have been Clark’s first time taking home the 1st place position however, since the inception of the points, Clark has finished in the top ten. He finished 8th in 03, 4th in 05 & 06, and 3rd or 4th in 05.   

2004 also brought a second Championship when he took home the honors from the Hutchinson Raceway Park, Hutchinson KS.  Clark almost had a third track championship if things would have fell into the right place. “Two small things cost Clark his third track championship for the year.  A cotter fell out of the transmission linkage under a red flag which resulted in a DNF, if he would have finished that race he would have won the track championship at Elmwood Park Speedway, instead he finished 3rd in the point standings. He finished 4th in the point standings at Wa Keeny Speedway, Wa Keeney KS, and was in the top ten for the IMCA Central Region points.  Overall it was an amazing season. 

I asked Clark what goes through his mind right before he gets ready to race, he replied.

“Turn left when you get to the end of the straight away, and keep in mind the goal, to be fast!” Marty stated that he has been fortunate enough not to really have a scariest racing moment on the track, however one time in the shop his car fell off the jack.  “I didn’t get hurt but was alone in the shop at the time of the incident,” I bet the “what ifs” when thinking about the possible outcomes would be scary. When I asked Marty how many hours he thought he spent in the shop he shared, “someone once told him that for every hour you race you can count on spending 40 hours in the shop, its pretty close.” 

Marty’s favorite track to race at is Elmwood Park Speedway, Norton KS. “The track is a nice, big, fast ½ mile.” “The owners keep the track in good shape, and treat the driver’s well,” replied Clark.  Marty’s favorite event is the Norton County Fair Races. “It is a 2 day event and we always have a good time, and race well to boot,” shared Marty.  

To Marty racing is all about people. “I go to the track to make friends.” “Most of my friends are other drivers and people who are associated with racing.” “I try to drive clean, and not make enemies on or off the track.” “Although I try to avoid conflict, there are times when I do feel the need to take a stand and will do so,” replied Marty.  I person Clark is very fond of was a man named Doyle Mitchell.  Mitchell, was known, as a great super modified driver during the 50’s & 60’s, and who Clark credits as being someone who has influenced his racing. “Doyle was a kind of person who helped everyone, he sort of just took you under his wing.” “He personally helped me and taught me how a motor ran, and a thing or two about suspension,” “I know he is missed by many, shared Marty.” 

Clark’s biggest fan is his grandmother.  She is currently in her 90’s and although she is unable to attend as many races in the past, she is still very involved in Marty’s career.  “Every night after I race my grandmother calls me and makes sure I didn’t wreck and asks me how the night went,” replied Marty. As we continued to talk about fans, Marty had this to say, “I want to thank the fans for all their support and to invite more people to visit their local track.” “If you are interested in racing, come on out and support us.” “We will try to put on a good show for you, so you can get your money’s worth.” stated Clark. 

Marty starts his 2007 season with a new BMS car that once was owned by the well known modified David Murray. With a new car, his championship motor under the hood, Clark is pumped and primed for the season.  Marty looks forward to racing the IMCA schedule with the goal of finishing in the top 10 in the National Points. “We may also try and do some traveling and run a handful of NCRA dates,” stated Clark.  Team #17 is looking forward to visiting RPM Speedway, Hays KS for the first time this year.  

When Marty is not at the track or in the shop he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.  Clark has entertained the idea to give the role of flagman a try, when and if, he ever retires from racing; however there are no plans on retiring any time soon!  

When I spoke with Marty, I found that he had a light hearted sense of humor, which made him easy to visit with. He is compassionate about racing and can be a serious competitor, yet he is compassionate about people.  Marty gets a strong daily dosage of the abuse and neglect of children that in some cases are caused by adults who use drugs. Then, he, his team, and sponsors help send the message “don’t do drugs” to kids that visit his pit on the weekends.  I don’t think this driver has really ever sat back and realized the impact he and his team are making in young people lives, he certainly demands no credit for doing so. To Clark and his team, they are just in the pits having some fun giving kids pop, coloring books, candy, and a good example to follow.