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Spotlight: Mark Martin's 500 Consecutive Starts
May 30, 2006
 
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There was a time in stock car racing when a team had a look that remained reasonably consistent throughout the year.  The look of a team was based on the needs of one primary sponsor and the corporate image of that sponsor.  In more recent years a number of factors have come into play to alter the standard of a single paint scheme.  In order to meet the financial needs of a team multiple sponsors may share the role of primary through the course of a season.  In addition to competing for a first place finish at each event race team organizations are faced with the challenge of competing for fan appeal and sponsor name recognition on and off the track.  Teams strive to generate excitement for their sponsors through marketing strategies and promotions.  A powerful tool used to achieve high visibility in the media is the use of special paint schemes.
 
A special paint scheme may be used to highlight a marketing promotion, celebrate a high profile event or to commemorate an outstanding achievement.  The Roush Racing No. 6 race car driven by Mark Martin has sported a variety of graphics designed to reflect the promotional goals at many different events.  During the 2003 Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H., the Viagra Ford Taurus was dressed in a one-off gold paint scheme commemorating Markís milestone accomplishment of 500 consecutive starts.  The special graphics also honored Major League Baseball star Rafael Palmeroís accomplishment of 500 home runs.  At the time Mark took the green flag for the 2003 Loudon event his string of consecutive starts was the third longest in the Cup Series, just behind Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace, and the seventh longest in NASCAR history.  At the completion of the Sylvania 300 Mark placed 28th.
 
Martinís car ran an assortment of Kraft themed paint schemes during the Budweiser Shootout from 2002-05, highlighting Kraft Foods, Oscar Meyer and Maxwell House.  Martinís No. 6 Pfizer Ford carried a Batman themed paint scheme as part of the Justice League promotion at the Michigan race in June of 2003 and Martin teamed once again with the Caped Crusader in 2005 for the Batman Begins 400 with another specially themed Batman scheme.
 
Martin initially planned to retire from the NASCAR Nextel Cup series at the end of the 2005 season.  In anticipation of his pending retirement Mark dedicated the 2005 season to the race fans with a "Salute to You," program that featured a series of retro-paint schemes designed to both highlight and celebrate Martinís historic career in the Nextel Cup Series.  The cars highlighted four different schemes over Martinís past, and included the 1981 orange and white retro scheme run in Phoenix in November, the 1989 blue retro car run at Texas in the spring, the 1990 Maroon Red Retro Scheme run at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the fan favorite 1993 red, white and blue Retro scheme run during Martinís victory in the 2005 Nextel All-Star race.
 
A series of unanticipated events transpired which lead Mark to reconsider his retirement plans, and Martin returned to the Cup Series in 2006 sporting an all new paint scheme with the red, white and blue on his No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion.

 
Previous Spotlight Features:
ROUSH Racing Driver X (May 30, 2006)
1967 Mercury Cougar (April 7, 2006)
1939 Ford Convertible Deluxe (March 16, 2006)

 

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