Retirement didn’t entirely go the way Justin Marks imagined last season.
He had already purchased a Pro Late Model and expected to make the occasional start in California with it but enjoyed it so much that he anticipated making more appearances with it in 2020.
That was before the pandemic, of course, which eliminated much of the west coast Pro Late Model schedule.
To make up for lost time, the 39-year-old motorsports veteran is teaming with Willie Allen Racing to make a start in the Masters of the Pro at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday night in Music City USA.
“After pulling back on my NASCAR career last year, I wanted to just learn a new form of racing: short track,” Marks said in a press release. “I never really did it and it’s obviously some of the best racing in the country.
“I did a handful of Pro Late Model races in California last year, but this will be my first time at a big Pro Late Model race like this.”
This will be the first time the Masters of the Pro weekend will take place at Fairgrounds Speedway following stints at I-44 Raceway in Lebanon, Missouri and Memphis International Raceway. The race pays $10,000 to win and will award the winner a green jacket like the prestigious Masters PGA tournament.
“As far as Nashville goes, I made about 50 laps in a NASCAR Xfinity Series car with Braun Racing over a decade ago, but that’s it,” Marks said. “So, it’ll be a big learning week for me.”
Marks, who began racing in the SCCA sports cars and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, has competed in ARCA and in all three of NASCAR’s premier divisions, beginning in 2006. He landed a victory in the Xfinity Series race at Mid Ohio driving for Chip Ganassi in 2016 and scored a career best 12th place finish in the Cup Series at Daytona in 2018.
He was also co-owner of the Larson-Marks World of Outlaws Sprint Car team with driver-owner, Kyle Larson.
Marks recently moved to Nashville and sought out the regions most successful development team in W.A.R.
“I just moved to Nashville and wanted to do some Late Model races,” Marks said. “The only person I kind of knew in the area was Willie Allen. I raced against Willie in the NASCAR truck series so I dug up his number and we got to talking about me doing some races with W.A.R.
“I’m really looking forward to learning the car, track, and competition. We’ve got some of the very best drivers in the business coming to town this weekend so it’ll be nice to see where I stack up. I know the car will be fast and everyone at W.A.R. will bring a hot rod. I’m excited.”
Allen is also excited to see what Marks brings to the program.
“Everyone here at the shop is really pumped for this weekend. Jackson Boone is coming off a big weekend at Montgomery (Speedway), and we now have Justin joining us this week,” Allen said. “I think he will offer us a new and entirely different perspective to our operation, and we’re fortunate to have someone with the years of experience he has had, bringing his knowledge to the table.”
Justin Marks will start the No. 26 Toyota on Saturday sponsored by Malugin Heating and Cooling and W.A.R. Shocks.
The Masters of the Pro will begin shortly after 5:30 p.m. CT on Saturday and will air on Speed51’s PPV platform.