FUTURE HALL OF FAMER IS AN ACCOMPLISHED PILOT
CORNELIUS, N.C. — Like all professional athletes, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin leads a hectic life. Between a 24-race NASCAR schedule, weight training, personal appearances and an active family life there are few spare moments. But when the 53-year-old, 40-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner gets a few moments to himself you might find him soaring miles above the earth’s surface.
Martin is an accomplished pilot owning a Citation CJ4 Jet that he often flies to race tracks across America. The 30-year veteran’s prowess as a pilot began out of necessity.
“I moved to Daytona Beach, Fla. in 1994. I had my own airplane, but my pilot lived in North Carolina,” recalled Martin. “I needed to come to North Carolina on Tuesday for our competition meetings. It was a pain. It was awkward so I needed to learn how to fly myself. I went to work and got it done.”
Martin not only earned his pilot’s license but perfected his skills enough to fly jets.
“Flying is not a hobby or a passion,” Martin said. “My passion is lifting weights, training, living a healthy lifestyle and racing cars. I certainly do love being a jet pilot of my own airplane. It’s very rewarding. It’s like being 16 years-old and being handed the car keys. Remember when you first got handed the car keys and you could leave the house unchaperoned? That’s what being a pilot is like.”
Martin flies to the races, but after driving the race car all day he uses the help of his pilot Laura Buck who flies the Martins home to Florida or their hangar in Concord, N.C.
Martin knows about pushing equipment to the edge. He’s earned 55 poles—the seventh most in NASCAR history and owns a season best four in 2012.
Flying for Martin is more about serenity.
“Within 20 minutes of leaving the ground I can be flying eight miles above earth and look around and I’m the only one there going 500 mph,” said Martin. “It’s darn near like having your own spaceship. I guess A hundred years from now our kids will be going into outer space and thinking isn’t this cool. But for right now in today’s age this is pretty cool.”
SPECIAL PAINT SCHEME: Martin’s No. 55 paint scheme in the AAA 400 at Dover this weekend will celebrate Thursday’s opening of Aaron’s 2,000th store in the Bronx, N.Y. Just like the store design, the paint scheme will feature pinstripes made famous in the Bronx, N.Y.
APPEARANCE: Martin will appear at the AAA display at 10 a.m. Sunday.
TALL COMPANY: Martin attended Monday’s 27th annual Great Sports Legends dinner to benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Pictured with Martin are Lisa Leslie, Joe Torre and Shaquille O’Neal.
CHASSIS: Primary – 729 - Car won pole at Dover in June, finished third at Texas, 10th at Atlanta with Martin behind wheel. Backup – 732 - raced at Charlotte.
THE BEST: Martin’s qualifying average qualifying effort of 8.8 in 2012 is the best of all drivers. Martin’s four poles are the most of any driver. No other driver owns more than two poles in 2012.
ONE OF THE BEST: Martin won his fourth pole of the 2012 season and 55th of his career at Michigan on Aug. 17. He is tied with Bill Elliott for seventh in all-time poles. Martin also owns 30 Nationwide and three Camping World Truck Series poles.
DOVER: In 52 Sprint Cup starts at Dover, Martin owns four victories and 23 top-5 finishes. He’s led 1,769 laps. He’s won five poles at Dover including the pole in June.
WINS: Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup, 49 Nationwide and seven Camping World Truck Series victories. He’s led 12,717 laps in Sprint Cup competition. Martin has started 848 Sprint Cup races, 236 Nationwide starts and 25 truck events.
No. 55 SCHEDULE: Martin has driven the No. 55 in 18 races in 2012. Brian Vickers in seven: two races at Bristol, two races at New Hampshire, Sonoma and Watkins Glen. He’ll also race at Martinsville. Waltrip in three: Talladega, Daytona (July) and Kentucky. He’ll also race in Talladega.
NEW STORE: MWR announced the opening of its new team store www.mwrteamstore.com. The online team store is a one-stop shop for all MWR driver and team merchandise.
MWR IN 2012: MWR’s five Sprint Cup Series drivers have scored a combined record of two victories, five poles, 19 top-five and 44 top-10 finishes in 2012. MWR’s Toyotas have led 899 laps