Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 3, Page

How has being an African-American affected your career? Or do you not think about that and just consider yourself another racer?

Martin: Well, I focus my program as if I’m just another racer, but I’d be less thanhonest if I were to say we haven’t felt the sensitivities and all of the challenges through my dad’s career and my career by b eing that. Certainly, in the years of being out there with my dad when he was racing, sometimes we were almost afraid to be at the racetrack.
It was very tough because, after all, this is a very networking-based sport and there was a huge inability to show up in the social settings where there was looseness of the tongue and all those sort of things. You were very unwelcome and spoken to very unprofessionally—actually, there wasn’t even a consideration of professionalism.
On the other hand, since being a young kid, I decided I was going to set some aggressive goals for myself and one of them was a commitment to make a difference in whatever I was going to do, that I was going to show up and make an impact, a tangible difference in history and those kinds of things. Also, I had a commitment to be world-class, to be the world’s best at what I was doing. I wasn’t seeking to single it to a particular race, color, or anything like that; I wanted a patent that was recognized as a world patent. So, I had a global focus at the same time as a huge appreciation for diversity, for mentorship, for helping those who weren’t as fortunate to find a path, seek a career, and all those kinds of things as well.

So, do you consider yourself a role model?

Martin: Absolutely. I consider myself as a role model, and not just to young kids in general, but to all folks in all walks of life. I want to encourage people to pursue their dreams and know that there’s more in them than what they’re realizing, to not give up on their skills, and encourage them to utilize the various methods available to foster growth and to look for those opportunities.
So within that I think that my touches out there in life are to affect people from all walks and all ages. I’m hoping to have an impact on all. I’m hoping to motivate a group in a car dealership to say, ‘Wow, you know Larry over there really is good in this and if we combine our assets with his asset what a great team we’d have,’ rather than stereotyping him on the few things he may be missing. I want to encourage bridging that and fostering that feeling and seeing it in all elements of life.

Do you think the major sanctioning bodies, NHRA and IHRA, do enough to encourage diversity, or should they establish an official program like NASCAR to specifically foster that?

Martin: Absolutely they should be fostering that, and not just from a marketing standpoint, but from a growth standpoint for the industry. If you look out there and say, ‘Where is my growth going to come from?’ well, absolutely that’s a huge opportunity. And it’s a missed opportunity for them because these folks do like motorsports, however, their motorsports involvement at large is through unsanctioned racing.
If you get out into the underground and the grassroots side of things you’ll find that there’s tremendous interest in aftermarket purchases and aftermarket lifestyles and performance of vehicles with African-Americans. They’re very passionate about cars that excel beyond the performance of a production car, but there’s this wall that they see when they enter into a professional sanctioning body that doesn’t create full comfort.

Here's What's New!