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At fifteen, Martin drove his first stock car on a dirt track in Locust Grove, just outside of Batesville. The rest is really history!
Martin has had one of the most successful NASCAR careers. During Martin’s 31 year career, he has won 40 victories in the NASCAR premier series, 49 wins in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and 7 wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Despite his great achievements, he never forgot his hometown roots.
As a way to bring it all back to the place it began, in spring of 2006 the Mark Martin Ford-Mercury dealership and museum opened in Batesville, Arkansas. The museum is a must see for any Mark Martin fan or NASCAR aficionado displaying dozens of trophies, scores of photos and articles, and exhibits of many of his racing suits and helmets.
The state of the art museum boasts six central exhibits that are each built around a featured car that played a major role in Martin’s racing journey. Each exhibit is outfitted with what is known as a “mantron”, these were some of the kids favorites and brought the exhibit to life! On the interactive mantrons you can watch race footage, two funny western spoofs featuring Martin, a mock music video and interviews to tell the story behind the exhibit. These really kept the kids engaged, but even I thought they were pretty amazing.
The rows of suits and helmets on display are much like suits of armor on display. You can see the history and stories behind each piece. Share in Martin’s own memories with the two family scrapbooks that are displayed.
Seeing so many of the cars in real life, brings perspective to racing, the excitement, the thrill and need for safety. Among the cars displayed are the No. 6 Viagra Coca-Cola 600 win car, the ’90 Folgers Thunderbird, the No. 60 Win Dixie Busch car, Martin’s 2005 IROC car, and the ’89 Stroh’s Thunderbird.
As we walked around the cars, the kid’s conversation turned to what they could relate the cars to, the animated movie of Cars and Lightning McQueen.
Living not far from the dirt track in Locust Grove that is still used today, the kids have often asked about attending one of the races still held there. After having visited the Mark Martin Museum, now they will have a much greater understanding of what racing is all about!
If you have a race fan in the family, be sure to make your way over to Batesville. Admission to the Mark Martin museum is free and you will be able to see how history unfolded for Martin.
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