Mark Martin isn’t racing on Tuesday night in the Dixieland 250 at Wisconsin International Raceway but there is a driver in the field that gets him excited for race day in the same way that green flags did during the peak of his 40-year driving career.
The NASCAR Hall of Famer is a huge supporter of Ty Majeski.
The 58-year-old has only raced once since retiring from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2014, but he’s been singing the praises of the three-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion since becoming a spectator in recent seasons.
Martin is still deeply invested in short track racing and that’s one of the reasons he attended the Dixieland 250 on Tuesday night.
The other was to finally meet Majeski in person.
“This is the first time I met him,” Martin said. “I did a radio show with him but that was it. Here’s the deal, when someone is not winning, I have a lot of advice I can give a driver. But when someone is winning every week, I don’t have a lot for them.
“They’re already doing it alright.”
Majeski is doing it again too, leading the 2017 standings, while also making his first handful of NASCAR Xfinity Series starts.
In fact, Majeski reminds Martin of another Midwestern Super Late Model legend that transitioned his short track success into the NASCAR record books.
“I’ve judged Ty basically with the same criteria I did Matt Kenseth,” Martin said. “He won a lot of races up here in different cars and different teams.
“That told me Matt knows his race cars because he can win in anything up here and I see Ty in the same light. This is a tough area and a tough group to stand out up against. And it appears Ty is doing just that.”
Tuesday night served as a homecoming of sorts for Martin.
The four-time Cup Series championship runner-up won the first Dixieland 250 in 1981 and scored a second victory in 1984. He calls WIR his second favorite race track, partly due to the configuration and partly due to the fans.
“I haven’t had the chance to look yet, but it’s full of great Wisconsin race fans,” Martin said. “They support short track racing like no other place I’ve been. There’s a lot of enthusiasm. I can’t wait to see the cars up close and see what’s different.”
Lastly, Martin says he’s seeing a great deal of change in short track racing from his run in the 1980s.
“Well, things have changed a lot since then with how you race and the level of competition,” Martin said. “I raced with Dick Trickle, Tom Refner and Mike Miller and so many Wisconsin greats. We had a code of racing ethics and those ethics have changed over the years, based on the cars, and how many good cars there are.
“These are just different times but the racing is still great.”
Kyle Busch is on the pole for the 2017 Dixieland 250. The race can be viewed online via a Speed 51 PPV broadcast.