Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 3, Page

Words and Photos by Ian Tocher

n picking up the Pro Nitrous win in his first ADRL appearance, Harold Martin may have caught a few people off guard last month at Valdosta, GA, but it should have come as no surprise from the veteran racer. Now campaigning a unique fuel-injected and nitrous-fed 2006 Grand Am, Martin has been a successful Pro Mod regular on the IHRA circuit since 1997, winning there in July 2004, while making periodic appearances in the NHRA ranks, too, setting a track record at Indy two years ago.

Born in Alabama, Martin grew up in the Detroit area and describes his age as “29 and holding.” He got his start in drag racing as a young boy, helping his father, Huston, a weekend warrior who “always raced Chevys.” He remembers it being tough at times for his dad as the sole African-American driver at the strip.

“It really was quite challenging and quite interesting as to what the true opportunities were in those days, but it was something he was really passionate about, something that he loved. But at the same time he was kind of okay with just accepting that advancement might not be possible, and/or that he would always have to buy just second-best,” Martin recalls. “And that just never stuck well with me.”

The thought motivated him to earn a mechanical engineering degree from Oakland (CA) University in the mid-'80s. Upon graduating, Martin immediately found work with General Motors, initially working on emissions development, then later on electronic fuel injection (EFI) systems. His efforts resulted in 10 world patents and led to the development of the first automotive computer control system.

After a decade or so with GM, Martin left in 1996 to establish Martin Technologies, a New Hudson, Michigan-based company that currently employs about 30 people. “It has three focuses,” he explains. “Martin Technologies is an engineering services company that provides design, development, testing, and assembly of engine programs. Martin Motorsports does engine building and special component fabrication. We’ve done work for NASCAR teams to marine teams, lots of behind-the-scenes work where you’d be surprised our footprint was on.” He stresses it’s not all EFI related, though. “Not at all. At the end of the day, we have a pretty good experience base that lends ability for us to get out there and help just about anyone.”

The third arm of the business is Harold Martin Racing with primary sponsorship from ACDelco. “A lot of people know that we have expertise in fuel injection, but they don’t know that we do our own in-house engine program,” Martin states proudly. "Everything is done here.”

Martin says he raced his father’s car a few times, but his own first racecar was a 1984 Firebird that he entered a few NHRA Pro Stock races with in the mid-‘80s. He later switched over to IHRA Top Sportsman competition with the same car, but before the end of the decade had sold his entire racing program to concentrate on his GM career. “It was difficult times because you were torn between school, between working, between racing, so you didn’t really have any foundation of focus,” he says.

After several years on the sidelines and with Martin Technologies firmly established, Martin re-entered racing in 1997 with his inaugural IHRA Pro Mod effort, running his unparalleled EFI combination from the start. He spoke recently with DRO about his team, the future of Pro Modified, racial diversity in drag racing, and racer haircuts.

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