Tasting sweet success from the winner’s circle in drag racing is the dream of so many racers, but being able to do it on the biggest stage is an even bigger accomplishment. Limited Drag Radial (LDR) racer Justin Martin not only picked up the biggest victory of his career at No Mercy 9 but he also reset his own record for the class and did it in the face of adversity all weekend long.
No Mercy week started out on a very difficult note for Martin since his entire crew couldn’t make the event and his HED-built big-block Chevy powerplant was missing rods and pistons when he rolled through the gates at South Georgia Motorsports Park (SGMP). Those two setbacks alone would be enough to cripple most teams but Martin was ready to buckle down and do whatever it took to make the show at No Mercy.
“My engine guy Pete Harrell and my teammates helped get the car together not knowing we would do as well as we would. Without that help we would never have been at the race — it’s really a Cinderella story how this all worked out. We don’t usually do that kind of stuff in LDR because it’s a working man’s class. It’s really out of the norm for us to roll into a race this size without being totally ready. When the car fired up it took a lot of weight off our shoulders and gave us the confidence we needed to move forward,” Martin says.
After getting his Nova fired up and ready for action Martin had to deal with his next obstacle of the race: the scorching hot weather. The high temperatures led to some very tricky track and atmospheric conditions that were less than favorable to make horsepower. Just like the engine issue he faced, Martin found a way to overcome the challenges in front of him to throw his own heat at the record books.
“The success we experienced at No Mercy is from chassis adjustments and figuring out how to run the front half of the track quicker. All of these cars that run the big-block twin-turbo combination are heavy and some haven’t haven’t figured out how to get the 330 as quickly as we have. Our back-half numbers were down because of the terrible air, so our back splits weren’t where they need to be. So all we had to work with was that front half and just making the car work better.
“I think a lot of teams were scared because of the track conditions. We normally get to run all the rounds in the dark but all the qualifying and racing was during the day for LDR. The track was 125-130 degrees and it caused some teams to not want to push the 60-foot as hard,” Martin explains.
Martin thinks that his Friday night qualifying run with the Radial vs The World class opened a window for data collection that was crucial to unlocking the car’s potential and set the stage for his record-breaking run.
“We really opened the car up on Friday night in Radial vs The World qualifying causing it to wheelie, but it gave us the necessary data to see where we needed to go to from there. The next morning we had the suspension out of the car and had the guys from Menscer helping us look over data and re-valve shocks to adjust from what we learned. We were able to make the Saturday morning qualifier in LDR and the car went a 1.12 60 on a 130-degree track, so we knew we had the suspension working well.”
After all the hard work that Martin and his team put in, he was able to march his way into the record books with a 4.09-second pass at over 189 mph. After that record-breaking run, Martin was able to roll into the final round and defeat Daniel Pharris to win the LDR title.
“The short numbers are what gave us the E.T. at this event. We haven’t found any additional horsepower, no secret torque converter, no traction control, it’s just been working on the chassis to get it to do what we wanted it to do.”
Another factor in Martin’s success was the pair of 88mm Gen2 Garrett turbos that he uses for boost as a part of his Nova’s engine package. “We have been using Garrett since we’ve been racing LDR. I knew how durable Garrett turbos were because that’s what I used in Radial vs The World years ago. These turbos are just stout and make the power that we need anywhere on the track.”
Besides help from Garrett, Martin’s other sponsors played a big role in his LDR victory. “Help from companies like Professional Auto Care, HED, Strobel Race Cars, Menscer Motorsports, NLR Boost Controllers, Holley, VP Racing Fuels, M&M Transmissions, Camron’s Torque Converter Services, Billet Atomizer Injectors, and Motion Raceworks is what keeps us going and winning. All these companies are very important to my program and I couldn’t do this without them.”