There were a number of places eager to have his potent #53 Dodge Neon as part of their show, but a conversation with good friend and former Kawartha track champion Mike Nelson steered the 26 year-old from Plainville, Ontario in a different direction.
Nelson already had a year's worth of experience in the new series when Brad Martin began to seriously ponder his own transition. It didn't him long to find a new place to race. Shortly after accepting the accolades for his third place finish in the Fraserville oval's final point standings, the speedster affectionately known as "Bad Brad" traded four cylinders for eight, announcing plans for a new season debut in a 2012 Dodge Avenger – powered by a NASCAR 340 Dodge Engine – on the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup Tour.
"My father, the crew and I had started to talk about making some changes to our program, even before the Kawartha closure was announced," said Martin. "We eventually decided to stick with the Mini Stock and shoot for the 2012 title. Although the year started well, some mechanical issues hindered that charge. I was still able to pick-up a couple of main event wins, but it wasn't the result we'd been hoping for when the season began."
While he's hardly an inexperienced racer, Brad Martin's move to a bigger, heavier and faster machine means learning a little more with every turn of the steering wheel. The car was rebuilt from the ground-up over the winter, with NASCAR Canadian Tire Series spec parts, with a goal of competing in a few races on that tour in the future.
Starting with a notebook of raceday set-ups filled with empty pages, Martin is an eager student. Figuring out what the car needs to make it to the front of the field at facilities like Flamboro, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Peterborough and Varney Motor Speedway also provides a fresh set of challenges for the driver and his team.
"I can talk with other drivers or look for information on the internet, but when it comes to finding out more about a track where I've never raced before, nothing replaces the seat of your pants feel you get once you fasten the belts and hit the accelerator," said Martin. "You can learn different areas where the car feels comfortable and discover the nuances that make every speedway different. I've been working with some great people and that's allowed me to give the team some solid feedback at every event. So far, we've had a great year. Most of our finishes have been just outside or just inside the top 10 and that's given everyone associated with our car a strong foundation to build on."
Brad Martin's 2013 Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup Series program is proudly supported by Bio 2000 Pressure Wash, J.J. Stewart Chrysler, Fisher Construction, Fast Eddy Racewear, Cobourg Welding Supply and Mayhew Graphics, with promotional assistance from Clarke Motorsports Communications. Special thanks to Chuck and Greg Martin, Joey McColm, Derek Lynch, Jason Hathaway, Ron Maguire and Pete McNight.
Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media