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Chris Martin #11

What Jeff has written about Chris Martin came from the heart, and it shows.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away we tried to lure him away from National Dragster to become the editor of Petersen Publishing's old Drag Racing Magazine (long gone now).  Chris spoke to me about the position, and I was super-enthusiastic because I felt the move would be good for him.  It would openly expose him to more than NHRA drag racing (as an NHRA employee Chris would sometimes take vacation time to see "other" races, as he did when he flew to the Motorplex to witness Eddie Hill's first four second elapsed time).  It would also get him out of the weekly grind of deadlines.

Ultimately he decided not to take the job.  I wish he had because his influence on that magazine would have been extremely positive.  But one wonders if he could have handled the structured responsibility of having to run the whole show himself.  We will never know.

When NHRA decided to publish their quickly forgotten and relegated-to-the-remainder-piles 50th Anniversary book Chris should have been the writer.  Hell, he could have done the whole thing off the top of his head without ever looking up a single statistic.  But by then his reputation with management at 2035 Financial Way had deteriorated to the point where there was no way they'd let him do it.  He wasn't politically correct enough.  If he had done the book it would have been great and it would have included all of the sport's heroes from the first five decades.  Instead, NHRA ended up appearing like collective fools for excising the accomplishments of drag racing's most famous driver, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits because of their personal animosity towards him over political matters (such as the two Tulsa PRO races that ran opposite Indy).

Chris Martin was the very worst kind of employee for the National Hot Rod Association because, unlike the dozens of others who toed the line and agreed with every bizarre concept someone in upper management came up with during a liquid lunch, he'd openly balk, laugh at their idiocy and then step outside for another deeply satisfying inhale.  Of course, we know they should have been listening to Martin, but hey, that's the way of the world we live in.  Perception is everything, and the perception management had of Chris was as negative as you can imagine.  Too bad, because they lost by not capitalizing on his exceptional skills.

Like others of his generation, Chris lived life to the fullest.  There wasn't a beer, a line or a joint he'd pass by, and for the uptight, that made him a bad guy.  But, as we've all seen from politicians and religious leaders, while they'll shout to the hills their beliefs in family, monogamy in marriage and honesty in business, how many of them have we seen exposed as being the hypocrites they  are?  Who looks worse when that happens, the exposed or someone like Chris, who's been right out front with his life from the very beginning?

If I believed in cryogenics I'd be taking up a collection to freeze Martin's brain until it could be downloaded at a later date.  If that were possible future generations would get a history of drag racing the likes of which they'll never otherwise see.  Instead, 25 years from now some unfortunate school-ager doing a paper on drag racing will be pulling his misinformation from the likes of NHRA's dreadful book, because books last forever. 

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