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January 20, 2017

Matt Kenseth

Mark Martin

Jack Roush

Charlotte, North Carolina

MATT KENSETH: Toughness, grit, determination. This racing warrior could not be outworked. One of the first drivers to dedicate himself to precise nutrition and rigorous workouts, he built a career that spanned four decades and saw him visit victory lane nearly 100 times. As his former teammate, I had the privilege of witnessing my mentor's talent and fortitude first hand. Now he gets to take his rightful place amongst NASCAR legends in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
(Video shown.)
Please welcome 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Mr.Mark Martin.
JACK ROUSH: Congratulations, Mark, and congratulations to all the other 2017 inductees. I'm very proud of you, very proud of what you've done throughout your career. In 1987, I met with Mark to discuss driving a race car for my new NASCAR race team. We talked at length about tires, testing, personnel, and commitment, and what it would take to compete and win races at the highest level.
Later, I realized that we'd never once discussed the salary Mark might receive. Since that day, Mark's talent, passion and desire to be the best has proven to be second to none, and it is now my honor on this 20th day of January, 2017, to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee ring and officially induct Mark Martin into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
MARK MARTIN: Thank you. Tonight for me is about recognizing the VIPs that made this happen. But the MVP is Arlene Martin. We met Christmas 1983, and Arlene, from that day, that day and every day since then, you have made me better. It's incredible what we've seen and what we've done to get here.
I've got to give an honorable mention to your sweet little girls, who we moved seven times in the first five years, and I never heard a word of complaint from them. It was a major, major sacrifice for those girls. So that was really, really special.
I can't tell you how it feels to stand up here in front of you tonight. It's a feeling that my words could never do justice. To me it's an honor‑‑ to say it's an honor would be an understatement. To say it's a culmination is a fact. It's an honor beyond the wildest imagination of a kid from Arkansas that just loved to drive fast cars and win races.
Most importantly, it's the recognition of hard work, determination, drive and focus, not of myself, but of those that gave their blood, sweat and tears to put me up here tonight. I want to thank all the Hall members, all the ones that came before me. If not for the groundwork they laid with their relentless passion and effort and sacrifice to the sport, there might not be a NASCAR at all, and there certainly wouldn't be no Hall of Fame.
When I was informed that I'd be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was greatly humbled and speechless to even be mentioned in the same breath with my racing idols. I was overwhelmed with appreciation and gratitude for all those that helped put me in a position to even compete in NASCAR races.
I think about my mom and dad. They were the most incredible parents anyone could have ever had, can‑do spirit, hard workers, and accomplished anything they set out to do, and they told me, my dad always told me, that Mark, you can do anything you set your mind to.
I don't remember them telling me what to do very much, but they never, ever told me what I couldn't do.
I think about Larry Shaw, who was driving by the trucking company shop when he saw that '55 Chevy going together for my first race car, and he stopped in and started working and never quit for four‑and‑a‑half years, and then went on to be a legendary dirt‑car builder himself. I think about Larry Phillips, future Hall of Famer, gave me my first job right out of high school. I went up there to Springfield and worked for him in the shop and learned how to fabricate, and then he raced me on Friday and Saturday night and gave me driving lessons.
I hooked up with Banjo Grimm at 18 years old, and I fed off his work ethic and he fed off mine. It was absolutely impossible to outwork us, and that was an amazing time.
I think about Rex Robbins and everyone at ASA that gave me the opportunity to race 200, 300 and 400‑lap races that were pit‑stop races, but not only that, but he took the time to teach me how to promote races, talk to fans, represent sponsors, and deal with the media, tools that I would have to have years later in NASCAR.
I hooked up with Ray Dillon in '79, and we designed the Mark 2 chassis which revolutionized short track asphalt racing. All the who's who in short track racing had to have one of those cars. It was an incredible time and he supplied me those cars which I really needed at the time. And then I hooked up with Ron Neal of Prototype Racing Engines, Wheeling, Illinois, and he supplied the horsepower of all kinds of race cars that I had to race in 1981, and without him, there's no way that I could be here tonight because I couldn't have done what I did in 1981.
Bud Reeder came along, as well, and wrote the check for that first Winston Cup car for 1981 that we did five races in.
I was just a kid like Jeff Gordon was when he came along, 22 years old, I had never failed at anything, and it looked like it was going to be pretty easy. I sat on two poles out of five races, worst I ever qualified was sixth, led two races decisively, and finished third, seventh and 11th in those two races. It looked like it was going to be pretty easy.
So I started off 1982 and left Daytona broke, a sponsor that never paid, and I proceeded to just struggle all year long. Pretty much lost everything.
But you know, you can never, ever give up.
So then in 1984, I'm standing outside the fence looking in the garage area at Daytona. I was watching the mechanics changing springs, the engine tuners working on the carburetors, crew chiefs going over their notes, and the drivers walking back and forth from the cars to the transporters, and I said, I can beat those guys. Now, understanding I wasn't waiting to go inside and get in my car. I wasn't worried about sitting on a pole or winning a race. I didn't even have a credential. I was on the outside looking in.
Sometimes you just need a second chance. And I needed that second chance.
For me, that chance came by way of a highly driven, engineer minded, drag and road racer from way up north. He wore this full‑brimmed hat and used more words than most of us know. Most importantly, he was hellbent and determined as I was to make a name for himself winning races and competing for championships at NASCAR's highest level. Jack Roush gave me that second chance.
Jack, we battled side by side for nearly 20 years, and I never once questioned your will to win or determination to succeed. We not only won a lot of races, but you helped mold me into the man I am today. I can't thank you enough for what you've done for me, for everything‑‑ for the opportunity to even stand up here tonight on this stage, or more importantly, the role you played in me becoming the person I am today.
I think about Steve Hmiel and Robin Pemberton and a small group of guys that built Roush Racing brick by brick. What an honor it was to be by their side. I was so fortunate to work with Jimmy Fennig. Jimmy was crew chief for me for 40 percent of my ASA wins and one of my championships and probably about 30 or 40 percent of my Cup wins. I never realized that he was a part of such a big part of my career because we were really only together for a short period of time.
And my good friend Benny Ertel. Benny might have had the toughest job over the past 30 years of anybody but one, and that would be Arlene. Keeping me straight, calming me down, talking me off the ledge, and up until tonight, making sure I got where I was supposed to when I was supposed to. Well, here I am, so good job, buddy, once again.
I also have to thank the many sponsors that supported us over the years. There were quite a few, and we were‑‑ we promoted some pretty interesting products.
To everyone at NASCAR and the France family, to each official, I commend the work they put in each week, work that continues to enable us to go out and race against the best in the world in front of the best fans in the world.
And to the fans, I appreciate every one of you, the passion and the inspiration that you've given me. I always tried to live up to that inspiration and represent you on and off the track in a worthy manner, worthy of your respect.
And to the media, I didn't always agree with you, but I always admired your dedication to the sport I loved so much. This is truly an honor for me and my family, but to me, it's about recognition, recognition not only to those I had time to talk about tonight, but literally hundreds and hundreds of people that worked so hard over the past 40 years to make this happen.
From every single crew chief to every guy that ever held a pit gun, to guys that volunteered their time slaving over dirt cars in early years, to the engineers, tire changers, over the wall crews, engine tuners and all, teams went from one or two guys to 15 or 16 or more, but the passion remained the same, and that passion and your effort are what I'm most grateful for tonight.
So for every person that ever worked on any of our teams, I salute you. This is your moment, our moment. The road was long, and sometimes the mountains seemed insurmountable. But in the end, here we stand in the grandest victory lane of all. We made it to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
KRISTA VODA: You share a connection with so many people here, as you said, owners, teammates, family, friends. You told me once, and I don't know if you remember this, but it's not about trophies, it's about relationships. And when you look out in this room and you saw every person rise to their feet, the trophy case of relationships and friendships for you is very full.
MARK MARTIN: It really is. You know, I'm so honored. I didn't mean to get emotional, but it's just the hardest thing I've ever done. Winning these races is a lot easier than what I just did.
There's so much to say and so many people to thank, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity. What Richard Petty said was absolutely unbelievable. My childhood hero, I pulled for Richard, when I was in the stands at Daytona and Talladega in 1972, and never dreamed that I'd have a chance to do this.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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