Martin and Hill win Cruiser main
Last updated 8/30/2007 at Noon
The Brooktown Racing team of Kevin Martin and Dave Hill won the Perris Auto Speedway’s Cruiser division main event August 25.
Martin and Hill took the lead in the fifth lap of the 12-lap main event and held on for Hill’s first-ever main event win and Martin’s second. The main event win was also the first for Martin in the 1984 Lincoln Town Car, whose motor had been rebuilt since the previous Cruiser race July 14.
“We just didn’t let anybody get in our way, and if they decided to get in our way they didn’t stay there very long,” Martin said.
The Cruiser division involves two drivers; one controls the steering wheel while the other operates the gas pedal. Martin normally drives with his wife, Debi, while Hill is a member of their crew.
Debi Martin is the manager of the Miramar U-Haul store and Hill is a mobile mechanic for U-Haul. Debi Martin pulled an arm muscle while working with a U-Haul truck earlier in the week, and by mid-week it was determined that the injury wouldn’t allow her to enter and exit a racecar.
Debi Martin called Hill two days before the race and requested a face-to-face meeting. “I wanted to tell him in person,” she said.
Hill was unaware that the purpose of the meeting was to inform him of the co-driving opportunity. “Dave thought I was coming up to fire him,” Martin said.
Hill had one positive indication prior to the meeting. He had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and opened a fortune cookie which predicted that he would have a positive effect on a sporting event. He showed the fortune slip to Martin, who let him know about the upcoming race.
Kevin Martin, who usually steers the Town Car, took that role August 25 while Hill replaced Debi Martin on the gas. Martin and Hill began the six-lap heat race on the pole but tangled with fellow Brooktown Racing drivers Jim Ramsey and Mike Lackey in the first lap before spinning in the second lap and finishing seventh.
“Heat race we were a little faster than we should have been. We had to ease up for the main,” Martin said.
The water truck wetted the corners of the half-mile dirt oval prior to the Cruiser main event, and Martin felt that was to his advantage. “If they wet down the track we can win,” he said.
The track also experimented with lining up the Cruisers diagonally against the infield crash wall to begin the main event. Martin and Hill took the original green flag in the fifth position.
Ramsey and Lackey, who had begun the race in the third position, spun out during the first lap between turns two and three. Martin and Hill approached their teammates’ car while it was turned around. “We hit his bumper. We heard it tick as we went by,” Martin said.
Martin and Hill were fourth after one lap. In the third lap they moved from third to second after Josh Warwick and Phil Holmes were unable to keep their car continually forward. Martin and Hill clipped Warwick and Holmes in the process but kept moving.
“He started spinning out in front of us. We had to get by him,” Martin said.
As Tim Walker and Anthony Merritt were finishing the third lap, their car stalled on the front straightaway, causing a red flag stoppage. Leaders Molly Mann and Shannon Anfensen saw the red flag before Martin and Hill. “We had to slam on the brakes,” Hill said.
Ramsey and Lackey also found themselves in the wrong direction just prior to the red flag. “Coming into turns three and four, Jim’s in there facing the wrong way,” Hill said.
Ramsey and Lackey went into the pits on the restart and did not return to the track that night. After returning to racing speed, Martin and Hill approached Mann and Anfensen early in the following lap. “We got going and they spun out in (turns) one and two,” Hill said. “We tapped them and pushed them out of the way.”
Mann and Anfensen spun while Martin and Hill stayed in forward motion and took over the lead. Ray Bundy and Bill Shoemaker moved into second.
In the 11th lap Tom and Jeff Gillum took over second place. They began gaining ground on Martin and Hill, who held the Gillums off by just over a car length at the checkered flag. “I was certainly not going to give up my line,” Martin said.
The critical juncture for the race to the checkered flag occurred during turn four of the final lap. “I kind of cut down across the track,” Martin said. “There wasn’t any way he was getting in.”
Martin had previously won a main event in 2005 with Bob Hunsaker while driving a Chevy station wagon.
“We picked a line and we stuck with it the whole race, and it was the best line out there,” Martin said of his second career win. “We just stayed high the whole time.”
In addition to Martin and Hill, the night’s pit crew included Debi Martin and Debbie Nowell. The car is sponsored by U-Haul, Costello’s Auto Repair, Fast, Fight Club, Quality Clutch, and Village News.
Debi Martin is expected to be ready to race by the time the Cruisers return to Perris on September 22, which means that Hill will sit out the race following his win. “It’s no big deal. That’s what I’m there for,” said Hill, who plans to be in the pits September 22.