WOOSTER, Ohio – If someone asked Broc Martin five years ago if he thought he would be the 2016 Fremont Speedway track champion in the 410 sprint division, he would have thought they were crazy! But that’s exactly what happened when he took the green flag on season championship night at Fremont in September.
“I just dreamed of winning a race at Fremont about five years ago. On our off nights of racing we used to go up to Fremont just to watch, and even at that time I was amazed at the weekly talent,” he said. “We took a leap about three years ago coming to Fremont. Initially our hope was just to make shows. There have been a lot of ups and downs there. And there has truly been blood, sweat and tears poured into our time spent at Fremont. Just knowing my name is along side some of the legendary racers at Fremont is an unreal feeling.”
His first thought on championship night was to win the feature. While that didn’t happen, he realizes how much more the family and friends that helped him along the way means to him. He values the time spent traveling to and from race tracks and evenings in the garage over any one single racing memory.
“This sport can be a grind at times. I really have a great group of guys and family that make the tough times well worth it,” he said of his team. “If you don’t have great people around you, then what do you have? They make the good times fun and the bad times tolerable.”
He thanks his parents, Jim and Traci, along with Matt Root and Lane Cecil. These are the people that make the Jim Smith Enterprises, Orrville Trucking, Santmyer Oil, Guerne Heights Drive-In, Mt. Dew Rick, Keizer Wheels backed 83m team all worth it to Broc.
“Without them there is no way I would be racing,” he said of his parents. “Also my friends Matt and Lane, who have supported me through many years of racing. And none the less, all of the great sponsors.”
Broc considers Fremont to be one of his favorite tracks to race at. He feels the track’s size and surface along with the fierce competition makes Fremont one of the toughest tracks in the country.
“Every week there is an unbelievable field of competitors. Fremont’s size, shape and varying conditions keep any driver on their toes. I like small, tight tracks, with a little moisture. In my opinion it produces the best racing and allows drivers to move around to several lanes.” he said. All of which helped make his 2016 championship his biggest racing accomplishment so far.
Fremont Speedway has a tradition of celebrating the current year champion along with the 50th anniversary of the past champion. This year Broc got to celebrate his 2016 championship during the annual “Old Timers” gathering at the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame with the family of the late Al Franks, the track’s 1966 sprint car champion.
“It was incredible. Al obviously is a legend at Fremont, and having the opportunity for his family to present me with the Hall of Fame trophy is easily the highlight of my racing career. A day I’ll never forget,” Broc said.
The spectator side of Broc likes watching at tracks like Knoxville, where hopefully one day he will compete at the Knoxville Nationals.
“The Knoxville Nationals are the pinnacle of our sport, and just having the opportunity to race there and try to qualify for the feature would be an incredible experience,” he said. “It’s big, fast, and develops two lanes. The way racing should be done!”
The 26 year old from Wooster, Ohio has spent the majority of his life involved in racing. It all started for Broc as a child cheering on Dave Wirt, who his father worked for in the late model division at Buckeye Speedway (now Wayne County Speedway) in Orrville, Ohio. His involvement grew when older brother, Jamie, started racing quarter midgets.
“I tagged along for the first few years, and then when I was seven I finally got my shot. I raced quarter midgets for three years until my brother turned 16 and started racing 360 sprint cars, during which time I had to step away,” Broc said.
Stepping away the quarter midgets didn’t necessarily mean stepping away from racing for Broc. While Jamie raced in the 360 sprint division Broc’s duties became scrapping mud, sweeping the shop and, like any other little brother, “being annoying and getting in the way.”
Jamie continued to race until Broc was 17 then decided to move on to other life interests. This left the seat in the family owned car open and Broc saw his chance.
“And I guess the remainder is history,” he said of his start in sprint car racing.
Sitting in the seat of a 410 sprint car isn’t the only form of racing for Broc. Since junior high, he has been a runner, competing on his school’s cross country and track teams like older brother Jamie.
“I was just always determined to follow in his footsteps,” Broc said.
Running gives Broc time to reflect on his performance in a sprint car.
“It gives me a place to escape and think about what happened,” he said. “I found a lot of solace during this last year of racing on Sunday mornings during my long runs, assessing the race from the night before.”
Broc the sprint car driver desires to compete in the premiere event in the sport, the Knoxville Nationals, Broc the runner sets his sights on the elite Boston Marathon. He is currently recovering from a running injury before he fully beings training for the Boston Marathon at the beginning of 2017. He has already completed two marathons; one in Akron in 2015 and the other in Columbus in 2016.
“Usually my marathon training consists of weekly running of about 60 to 70 miles a week. It includes a speed workout and long run of 20 plus miles once a week. There is also strength training, a lot of healthy food, and as much sleep as my schedule allows…it’s hard, but well worth it,” Broc said “A lot of people in the racing community didn’t know I was training for a marathon all while racing this last summer. My typical day consisted of a 4:30 am wake up call, a 10 mile run, a quick breakfast, work from eight to five, home for dinner, lifting and then a night in the shop from about 6:30 to 10. It didn’t leave much down time, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”
Marathon training has definitely translated into preparing to wheel a sprint car for 30 laps. Not only is the physical element of it easier for Broc but the mental strain seems to be lessened.
“On tracks that are very heavy and rough, which can be very physically challenging, I seem to recover better between races and during cautions. Also out pounding the local roads for 20 plus miles can develop you into a pretty mentally tough person,” he said.
All of that training can’t stop the 2016 Fremont Speedway champion from getting celebratory root beer and cookies after a long night at the race track.
“It doesn’t sound like much, but anyone that knows me knows that’s a treat,” said Broc, even though he much prefers the homemade root beer from Guerne Heights Drive-in.
Plans for the 2017 race season aren’t set in stone yet for Broc.
“I was lucky enough to run a few races at the end of the year for Joe Seeling. I hope to have some plans finalized here in the next couple weeks, but either way whether in Joe’s car or my family car, I’m sure I will spend a lot of time in Northwest Ohio racing,” he said.
Photos provided by @Sprintfun and @FremontSpeedwayHOF