Next season will be Justin Marks’ first as a NASCAR Cup Series team owner, as Trackhouse Racing Team will enter the series with Daniel Suarez behind the wheel. Before embarking on that journey, however, Marks will put on his own firesuit for the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway.
Marks is not a Late Model racer by trade, but his interest in the short track racing machines has increased since stepping away from full-time competition. Earlier this year, he competed in the Masters of the Pros at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway for Willie Allen.
“Late Model racing is something I haven’t done very much of, but I enjoy it when I do,” said Marks. “I moved out to Nashville earlier this year to Brentwood, just south of town. I wanted to race at the Fairgrounds Speedway, so I called Willie Allen who I hadn’t talked to in about 10 years. I knew he had fast stuff. I really had a lot of fun in that CRA Pro Late Model race.”
That experience made Marks want to give Late Model racing another go, which led to his entrance into this year’s Snowflake 100 on the eve of the Snowball Derby.
“I didn’t have a good finish, but I wanted to do more. We started talking about it. That Snowball weekend is a big Late Model weekend of racing. I had the thought of running the Snowball Derby, myself, but with my limited experience, it makes more sense to run the Snowflake. I’m excited to get down there, get some laps, and have some fun.”
While he will not be competing in the Snowball Derby in 2020, Marks admits the event is one that has intrigued him for a long time, and he is open to competing in the Super Late Model crown jewel in the future.
“I want to go down there, just because my experience has been in the Pro, go down there and learn the racetrack, learn the flow of the event, see how it all goes. I’ll really pay attention to the Snowball Derby, watch practice, watch qualifying, watch the race on Sunday, and maybe put together something for the big show next year.”
Marks’ interest in the event began roughly a decade ago, when he attended the event and was blown away by the intensity and pageantry surrounding the biggest race in Late Model competition.
“I was down there probably 10 years ago, and I remember watching it thinking it was some of the most intense racing I had ever seen on a short track. It was pretty wild, the depth of talent and how many good teams there are, the furious pace of the race and the whole weekend. Even practice was intense, teams fighting for every clean lap they can get.
“I watch it every year. Every year, I’m streaming it and following along all weekend. It’s exciting to see these young guys trying to prove their talent to the world racing against some established drivers. Not only some great Late Model drivers like Bubba [Pollard] and Stephen [Nasse] and Ty [Majeski], but also Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, guys like that who come down. It’s really a compelling motorsports event.”
It’s a busy start to a busier offseason for the new team owner, but Marks doesn’t see himself ever getting away from driving race cars entirely.
“I’m certainly burning the candle at both ends. I love racing. I’ve always been interested in the business side of it. When I started winding down my professional driving career, I knew I was always going to race. Getting involved in the business side is something I’m passionate about. I’m excited about Trackhouse and going Cup racing next year with Daniel Suarez. Every now and then, you’ve still got to sample the goods.
“My vacations, I go to a race track and race anyways. I’m looking forward to it.”
Race fans unable to attend the Snowball Derby on December 2-6 at Five Flags Speedway can watch all of the racing throughout Derby week on Speed51.TV by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo