Martin Tears Up The Track

After doing all those Nascar ads, The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., apparently got the auto-racing bug. This summer, a team led by John Ryland—art director by day, driver and crew chief by night—transformed a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon into the Martin Enduro racer. Ryland drove the car in its debut Sept. 3 at Richmond’s Southside Speedway, a one-third-mile paved oval.

Martin’s Nascar ads are award-winning. Its debut racing performance? Not so much. Some 35 laps into the 75-lap race, Ryland spun the car and was broadsided by another driver. The yellow-and-black No. 64 rolled down the track into the inside retaining wall and caught fire. (Evidently, transmission fluid was leaking onto the exhaust manifold.) Ryland abandoned the car, and fire crews extinguished the flames.

“The only place that isn’t dented is the passenger door,” says Ryland, 35, who bruised a few ribs but whose confidence is intact. “I’ve hurt worse from sleeping wrong,” he says proudly. Plus, three or four other drivers crashed earlier. “We didn’t finish last, and that’s important for some reason,” he says.

The car still runs and was on display at the agency late last week. Dale Jarrett, the Nascar driver of the UPS car, visited last week and signed the roof (UPS being a Martin client). The Martin machine will roar back onto the track this Friday for the final race of the Enduro series, which is considered an entry level of racing, just a step above Go Kart racing. Ryland hopes to claim the $600 and the big trophy that awaits the winner.

The car also gave the agency a chance to promote some of its clients. It carried decals for UPS, Quiznos, SpikeTV and Geico.