Racing Beat

Racecar driver Mark Martin took over as CEO of J-Mar Express after his father’s death four years ago.

Racer and Trucking Company CEO
Mark Martin – stock car legend and trucking company CEO – has never won a championship in NASCAR’s biggest league. Heck, it could be he never will. But the Batesville, Ark., native doesn’t seem nearly as concerned with the fact as other people.

“I have a hard time understanding how finishing second in the points race is a bad thing,” says Martin, who has come close to claiming the big prize in what is now known as Nextel Cup but has never done better than the runner-up spot.

“The thing is, I’ve had a lot of success in my career. And whether I win the rest of the championships, none at all or a few in-between, that won’t change the intensity I approach every race and every season with. And it won’t change the fact that I’ve had a great career.”

Martin’s career has been a storied one – good enough to earn the honor of one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. But after this season it’s likely he will compete only two more years before giving up his ride to a young gun in the Jack Roush Racing camp.

Martin, who has 33 career victories, remains confident in his ability to drive the No. 6 Ford and the crew that works with him on Race Day.

“I really have a great team and to be honest, this is the best situation I’ve ever been in,” he says. “Right now we’re just trying to race smart and not make mistakes, and if we do that maybe we can have a good season.”

Martin has been successful at just about every venue he’s competed at since joining the series full-time in 1982. That season Martin finished 14th in points and second in Rookie of the Year standings.

In 1988 Martin began his long-time affiliation with Roush, and the pair soon began to thrive.

“The best thing that ever happened to me was hooking up with Jack Roush,” Martin says. “I had some success in other series before, but working with Jack has definitely made my Nextel Cup career.”

In 1989 Martin wound up third in the points chase, and one season later he logged three checkered flags and finished second in points.

In 1993 he entered Victory Lane five times, and in 1998 Martin crossed the finish line first on seven different occasions, which was a season high. Unfortunately for the Ford wheelman it still wasn’t enough to claim the points title, and Martin had to settle for second once again.

“I’ve had a great career and a lot of wins, and I’m happy about it,” Martin says. “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now as far as my career goes, but I really feel like this could be a great year. Hey, 15 years ago I didn’t know if I was going to make it in this series or not, and I think I have.”

Though Martin has never been No. 1 in NASCAR, he holds the No. 1 position in another business venture – the trucking company he took over after his father’s death.

Many NASCAR drivers dabble in outside interests, such as automobile dealerships, but Martin is a full-fledged part of the trucking industry. The trucking industry has always been a part of Martin’s life.

“More than four years ago, I took over the reins of J-Mar Express, a company my father founded, ran and loved with all his heart,” Martin says. “A lot has happened in the time since my father died. What I’m most proud of, though, is that today J-Mar Express runs basically the same way it did when my father was at the helm.”

Martin’s father, Julian Martin, was known in trucking circles long before Martin made a name for himself on short tracks, the Busch Series and Winston Cup.

“I literally grew up with the trucking business,” Martin says. “It’s as much a part of my life’s history as the dirt race tracks of Arkansas. But the trucking business is also a part of my family’s present and our future.

“Our employees know that to be successful, we have to demonstrate the same attributes my father used on the road to success: commitment, professionalism, reliability, experience, hard work, dedication and, of course, performance.”

While Martin credits the success of the company to his father, he also brings those important traits to the table. And the all-time winningest driver in Busch Series history and one of NASCAR’s greatest wheelmen vows to keep J-Mar among the top names in trucking.

“Our goal is to be a high-performance team that exceeds our customers’ expectations – every day, every load, every time,” Martin says. “And that’s something else that hasn’t changed since Julian Martin ran this company.”

Meet the drivers
Kasey Kahne
DOB: 4/10/80
Home state: Washington
Crew Chief: Tommy Baldwin Jr.
Drives Dodges for Ray Evernham.
The heir apparent to Bill Elliott (Kahne has even commandeered the No. 9 for his ride), Kasey Kahne has already won championships on dirt tracks and sprint cars, and he opened the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup season with a thrilling second-place finish in the Daytona 500. He is expected to compete for Rookie of the Year honors along with Brian Vickers.

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