Dale Earnhardt was testing the waters with Martin; They both ended up wrecked in a practice session
Mark Martin is known as the gentleman’s racer. If you had a faster car, it wasn’t uncommon for Mark Martin to wave you by.
Martin spent 31 years in the NASCAR Cup Series. Throughout that time, he of course had a few run-ins with drivers on the track.
Who made you mad at the race track?
“I don’t remember ever wanting to pay somebody back. I got really mad at a number of people who didn’t do right,” Mart Martin stated on the first episode of his new podcast ‘The Mark Martin Podcast’.
“I had some issues with Earnhardt. The stories on Earnhardt are [that] Dale really respected me before I got to NASCAR he knew who I was. He treated me with great respect.”
“Until, one day in the mid-90’s. He wakes up and thinks, ‘Boy, I think I’ll just mess with Mark. Let’s see how much he’ll take.’ And he started pushing my buttons just for the fun of it.”
“I’d go out to practice, trying to run by myself. He’d come out and he’d wait for me. Or he’d come out right beside me.”
“That’s when cars were just starting to get aero loose with the car on the outside. He’d mess with me and mess with me and mess with me.”
“Well, I finally got tired of it at Michigan. He got on my outside and I switched it on him. I got ahead of him and let him get on the inside of me.”
“When he did, it sucked him around. He spun out and he wrecked me.”
“See I had not wrecked myself or him all this time he’d been messing with me. It pissed me off because it wrecked my car! And because we didn’t need to be — Leave me alone!”
“So, I was mad. That was in practice. That wasn’t in a race.”
“The next weekend, in practice, first thing we roll out at New Hampshire. We roll out on the race track. Here he is! So, he does the same thing. I put the wheel on him, in practice.”
“He comes in after practice. He looks at his PR guy and says, ‘I think Mark’s had enough.’ And that’s all. He was just playin’.”
“I wasn’t going to cry to the media. I wasn’t going to complain. I was gunna be a man.”
“Some of the other drivers reactions… Dale didn’t like the way they reacted. He didn’t respect it. And he made their life miserable. I watched him do it to Geoff Bodine. He just irritated Geoff Bodine, sumthin terrible. Just all the time. And he just did it because he didn’t like the way Geoff would act when he’d do it to him.”
Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt Jr raced each other and wrecked each other a bunch of times. Once upon a time, Geoff Bodine came over to the car of Dale Earnhardt and gestured an X in front of his car before the race. Possibly a way of saying the car wouldn’t finish the race. Dale Earnhardt Sr proceeded to wreck Bodine in that race at Charlotte and was black flagged to serve a 5 lap penalty.
“Dale, he was a tough guy. I don’t know, he was just checkin’ me out. Feelin’ me out. We’d raced against each other for 10 years.”
“I got mad at Tony Stewart once. He was first getting into NASCAR and he caused a big wreck. It about killed me at Talladega. It hurt really really bad.”
“People make mistakes. Drivers make mistakes. People get mad. But, you know, you get over it.”
“You could have a problem with your best friend on the race track. You have a problem and you move on.”
Mark Martin ran 882 races in the NASCAR Cup Series. He collected 40 race wins, 453 top-10’s and finished 2nd in NASCAR season points, five times. Martin now lives in Batesville, Arkansas and lives the RV life. You might find him on the road or at the dirt tracks.