Justin Marks has covered a lot of ground in his professional motorsports career. He’s a former winner in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the ARCA Menards Series, and has multiple Sports Car wins to his credit.
Now, Marks is ready to go short track racing. The California native tweeted a pictureof his new FURY Super Late Model on Sunday, publicly announcing his intentions to go Late Model racing in 2019.
Marks says that, after racing professionally for nearly two decades, he now has the opportunity and desire to race for his own personal enjoyment.
“I’ve raced professionally for almost 20 years,” Marks told Speed51. “With my age and a lot of other stuff going on, prospective business opportunities on the horizon, I wanted to get back to racing for fun and the enjoyment of it.”
Marks considers short track racing the “beating heart” of the sport, which made it the most logical destination for his new racing venture.
“I’ve always enjoyed short track races when I grew up watching,” Marks said. “I relocated to California and I’m pulling back the reins a bit on the professional stuff, but I still want to race. To me, short track racing is still the beating heart of the sport and the industry. I just think it will be a great challenge. There are so many great races all around the country. I think it will be fun to dive into a form of racing I haven’t done yet before.”
Along with the Super Late Model, Marks will be fielding a car at nearby All American Speedway in Roseville, California.
“I got the Super Late Model from FURY,” he explained. “We’re going to run some SRL races on the West Coast and then decide what, if any, racers we’re going to go east for, depending on how my learning curve is going. I’ve also got my local car being built right now that will run at All-American Speedway in Roseville. That’s what primarily my schedule will be, then fit in these Super Late Model races when we’ve got time to do it.
“I’m diving right into the deep end, just going for it,” Marks added. “They’ve got this local track in Roseville rocking again, Bill McAnally has done a great job bringing that back to life. I just want to be involved locally and be able to race locally, which I will be able to do with the Late Model Stock Car, Pro Late Model. We’ll take the Super Late Model to the bigger races, not only in California but I’d love to go to Pensacola, Winchester, Nashville, all the great races in the country too.”
Marks openly says he hopes to take on the challenge of Super Late Model racing’s crown jewel events in 2019, looking to pit himself against the stiffest competition possible.
“I think it’s something I can do in 2019,” Marks said about the possibility of racing in the Super Late Model majors this year. “Obviously it’s schedule permitting, with a lot of the other stuff I’ve got going on. But I’ve gotten into this short track thing, not to hit a reset switch and move back up the ladder, but for short track racing. The pinnacle of that is the Snowball Derby, Winchester 400, Nashville, all of that stuff. That represents the highest level, so that’s what I’m going to shoot to go for.”
The majority of Marks’ career has been in the sports car world. Last season, Marks competed in the Weathertech SportsCar Championship. Marks will compete in the series’ IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events this season, allowing him to still participate in endurance racing while also freeing up his schedule.
“I’m running the Endurance Championship,” he said. “The four major endurance events, which is the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta at the end of the year. I’m doing those four races with the same team, with Meyer Shank Racing in the Acura NSX. It enables me to keep endurance sports car racing, which is what I’ve done my whole career.
“I’m able to go to the most prestigious races and try to win the biggest races, but it gives me a lot more time to race the short track stuff and really explore that,” Marks continued. “It just started becoming really difficult to have my kids and my family at the race track. That’s one of the things I’m really looking forward to, cultivating this racing family, having my kids come out. The only pro racing I’m going to do is those four IMSA races. Then I’m going to focus on this Late Model stuff. I’m actually really excited about that.”
For Marks, pursuing Late Model racing is just another step in his pursuit of racing as many different cars as possible during his career.
“I’ve never pigeonholed myself into any specific kind of racing. I just love all forms of motorsports. I’ve driven Le Mans prototypes. I’ve driven UMP Dirt Modifieds, GT cars, all three divisions of NASCAR, ARCA, a ton of different stuff. I want to keep experiencing all different kinds of racing, I still have lots of races on my bucket list, like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Baja 1000. Because I love the sport so much, and I love racing so much, I want to have as diverse of an experience as possible.”
One of the draws of short track racing for Marks is the diversity and number of events available for competitors. He first experienced this while co-owning a Sprint Car team with Kyle Larson.
“I’ve always looked at short track racing, especially the sharp end of short track racing like Southern Super Series, Pensacola, CRA, some of these high-level Late Model races, as being as prestigious and difficult as anything out there. What I love about it is going on Speed51, looking at the schedules, and any given weekend, there’s 25, 30 different Late Model races going on in the country. I fell in love with that kind of environment when I had the Sprint Car team with Kyle Larson. We ran the Outlaws, but the first year we ran our own schedule. We just pulled up a schedule, they’re racing for this much money here, they’re racing for that much money there. We built our schedule, and that was a really, really cool way to go racing I hadn’t experienced.
“Having these two cars and having the entire country as a blank canvas is really exciting to me,” Marks added. “We can just choose where we want to go race. We can experience new fields, new race tracks, new parts of the country. It just fits into this story I’ve been trying to write my whole career, to be involved in as much different forms of motorsports as possible.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Justin Marks