My Visit to Mark Martin's.
Besides being the second official town in Arkansas state history, my hometown of Batesville also boasts of being the hometown of NASCAR champion, Mark Martin.
To the NASCAR uninitiated person like myself, who cares, right? But, it dawned on me how significant a celebrity Mark Martin is when last week as we sat in the Minneapolis airport waiting on our flight, a fellow passenger asks us where we were headed and when I said "Batesville Arkansas" he immediately responded by saying, "Oh, that's where Mark Martin is!."
My mother tells me that when Mark was a teenager, he use to come over to my uncle's salvage shop to buy spare parts for his racing cars. He has come a long way since being a rural kid from Batesville, Arkansas, racing junker cars at county fairs. According to his NASCAR page, he has 35 career wins. I am thinking that may be a good thing.
When he decided he wanted to open up a Ford dealership, several major cities wanted him to come to them, but Mark wanted to bring his dealership to Batesville where he was raised and started his career. Technically, his dealership is located in Southside, which means the community south of Batesville, across the White River and up Ramsey's Mountain. I understand from local hearsay that the city council gave Mark the cold shoulder when he announced plans to open his dealership and they refused to allow him easy access to build in town, so he had to come out into the "unincorporated" part of town (where I lived) to build his place. Now that it is one of the major tourist attractions for NASCAR fans, the city is kicking themselves. The new mayor has plans to attempt annexing next year.
Well any how, when we told my mother we were going to visit her at Christmas, one of the planned outings was taking us down the road to see Mark Martin's. He has a personal museum in the dealership with many fine displays.
Here is the wall of his car driving suits. I am sure there is probably a more "technical" name than "car driving suits."
Here is the interior to one of his many cars he has raced.
And here is one of the major displays showcased in his museum
The displays were really well done. They had a large pictured collage background in a "C" shape with the winning car sitting in the middle. There is a large, HDTV touchscreen monitor standing out in front of the display that provides the last 5 minutes of video when Mark won whatever race with this particular car. I watched the video for every display where he won, and though I had absolutely no clue exactly how it was that he did win, the announcer was exciting as he described the cars racing around the track. There were even some with wrecks. Apparently, I learned later, there is some point system that brings the driver to a place of winning. I read the NASCAR page that explains the system, but I am still mystified as to how it works.
And like all well done museums, there is a fully stocked souvenir shop right outside the display area selling all sorts of Mark Martin merchandise. Wouldn't you know it, they have all the little Matchbox cars right down low to the ground where 3 and 4 year old boys can see them and pick them off the shelf.
It is such marketing genius.
Labels: Fred's Life