The night a smile turned into a fight of 27 people at the dirt track

Mark Martin went to victory lane as Larry Shaw fought a battle of his own in the pit area

Years ago, a young Mark Martin was just finding the seat behind a steering wheel. He started at the Ozark dirt tracks.

In his corner, Martin had Larry Shaw. Shaw built a ’55 Chevy for Martin and headed to the dirt track. They were both based out of Batesville, Arkansas at that time and both still remain there to this day.

Dirt track fights aren’t anything out of the norm. Sometimes, a smile is all it takes to get things going.

Mark Martin engages Larry Shaw via the Mark Martin Podcast, “You tell a story every once in awhile about how a smile will get you into a fight. He’s going to tell this story. But, I believe there’s a little bit more to this story that got him into a fight than just a grin.”

Larry Shaw and Mark Martin
Larry Shaw and a young Mark Martin

“What it was, our main competition at the time, he was a good racer too. You didn’t have no rules on tires and thing back then,” Larry Shaw opens the story.

“We had like a 12 or 14 inch tire on the car. Somehow or another he showed up with about and 18 inch or 20 inch tire on the right rear. Which was legal. Anything was legal really. I don’t think you could have a gun in your car but you could have everything else.”

“So, we’re out there. We’re in a heated up deal and he had gettin’ gone. We’re in 2nd and I could see that we’re not catching him. That’s just part of it.”

“Well, I’m standing out there where the car would come off the track and this gentleman’s dad was standing there by me. What happened, he hung the front straight-away wall because Mark and him were already really close to the wall at this particular track.”

“He hung that right rear tire and tore it off. Immediately, when that happened I kinda had a slight grin. Mark [Martin] went on a took the lead and won the race.”

“His dad came over there and kinda nudged me a little bit. He wanted to know if I thought that was funny. He raised his hand up and I hit him cause I thought he was gonna hit me!”

“First thing I know, we had 27 people in this fight.”

“I’ve cleaned my ass up since then. You know, that was a lot of people for this little race track we was at,” Shaw explains.

Mark Martin says, “I’m 15 years old. I’m carrying this checkered flag around the race track after winning the race. I see them fighting over there in the pits. I just took my time gettin’ back over there.”

Larry Shaw continued, “I had an uncle that was just one of them old hillbilly type. He found out his nephew was in a fight. He came flying in there and Glen Brown from Little Rock — That’s as far as he got.”

“The fight was over but Harvey was wanting to fight right now. I never will forget when Glen hit him. He musta fell 15 feet from. At the time he gets up, he’s really wanting to fight.”

“But, it’s over with. We done cleaned up everything. We was getting ready to go to Denny’s and have breakfast.”

These days, you’ll still find both of these guys at the dirt track. Larry shaw is a chassis builder for dirt track race cars. He recently completed his 5,000th car.

Mark Martin and his RV can also be found at the dirt track. He’s currently the “lead cheerleader” for Jonathan Davenport who runs the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.


Related: Mark Martin details his role with Jonathan Davenport; Discusses the level playing field in NASCAR

Related: Larry Shaw has built his 5,000th race car


Larry Shaw | Mark Martin | Mark Martin Podcast