"I've heard nothing but good things from my NASCAR buddies about the race, the competition and the fans," said Martin, who hails from Batesville, Arkansas. "It's always fun to get back to your roots. My career began at local short tracks and I got the opportunity to go to so many great speedways. I can't wait to check this one out along with the competition, and the fans."
"It is indeed a privilege to welcome Mark Martin to our event," said Paul McLean, general manager for Riverside. "His remarkable career speaks for itself; his reputation as a stand-up guy and hard-core racer are qualities that will make him a perfect fit for our event. We are beyond excited to bring him to the IWK 250 for our fans and racers."
Martin's NASCAR career spanned 31 years and over that time he won 96 races in the top three series: 40 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (17th all-time), 49 in the XFINITY Series (second all-time), and seven in the Camping World Truck Series. He is one of nine drivers who has started 800 or more races in NASCAR's premier division - fifth on the list with 882 starts, and one of only 27 drivers who has won races in each of NASCAR's three national series.
Concurrent with his NASCAR career, Martin competed in the International Race of Champions (IROC), an invitation-only series pitting the best drivers in the world against each other in identically prepared race cars. He is a five-time IROC champion, the most of anyone, and holds the record for the most wins over the series 30-season existence.
Martin's NASCAR premier series wins include the biggest races on the circuit. He is a two-time winner of the fabled Southern 500 at Darlington, a two-time winner in the GEICO 500 at Talladega, a two-time winner in the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte, a winner in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, and a winner in the Bud Shootout at Daytona. Before his NASCAR career, Martin raced in the American Speed Association where he won four titles and rookie of the year honours.
Besides the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Martin has been inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (2017) and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (2015).
Mark Martin has won races against the best drivers in the history of stock car racing, indeed some of the best drivers in the world. And now with his entry in the IWK 250, regional racers will have the chance to test their talents against his. And fans to meet and to watch a world-class racing legend at work.
"It's going to be a real thrill to compete against Mark Martin," said Donald Chisholm, from Antigonish, defending champion of the IWK 250 and 2015 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champion. "He has had such an amazing career and the fact that he has just gone into the NASCAR Hall of Fame makes his visit even more special. It will be cool to see him driving a car from our shop. You don't get a chance to prepare a car for a racing legend very often. There is no doubt Mark will be one of the drivers to beat in order to defend our win from last year. Our whole team is looking forward to the event."
Martin will drive a car out of the Nova Racing stable as a teammate to Chisholm and New Glasgow's George Koszkulics. Martin has raced at one other track in Canada, Cayuga Motor Speedway in Ontario, in the late 70s in ASA competition. His journey to the IWK 250 will be his first visit to Nova Scotia.
"I'm really looking forward to the trip," said Martin. "I have done a ton of racing in similar cars that run there. I always loved racing those cars."
In addition to his on-track activities, Martin will visit with patients and their families at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax during his stay in Nova Scotia.
With his win in 2008, Regan Smith is the only NASCAR guest driver to take the checkers at the IWK 250. Other NASCAR racers that have challenged the regions best in the event include Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Matt Crafton, Ricky Craven, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and David Reutimann
The IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body is a three-day event starting Thursday, July 13 with the IWK 250 Tailgate Party. On Friday, July 14, it's the NAPA Sportsman Series with a 100-lap championship points event, along with the Maritime League of Legends.
On Saturday, July 15 the cars and stars of IWK 250 are centre-stage, all vying for the checkered flag and accolades that come with being an IWK 250 champion. It is one of the most prestigious titles in Canadian stock car racing and the winner will see their name engraved on the magnificent John W. Chisholm Memorial Cup, the perpetual award for the event paying homage to the late John Chisholm, founder and builder of Riverside International Speedway. And, if there's not enough already on the line at the IWK 250, it is a championship points event for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.
Besides being recognized as one of the most entertaining stock car races in Canada, the IWK 250 helps raise awareness and funding for the IWK Health Centre with more than $400,000 donated to the IWK Foundation over the past 10 years.
Advance tickets for the IWK 250 will be available starting the week of June 19; campsite renewals will be offered in March and new reservations available after that (all sites must be reserved in advance, i.e. no drive-ups and no overnight parking without a permit between July 8 and 16.)
The 2017 season at Riverside gets underway June 17 with the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in a 150-lap event along with the NAPA Sportsman Series in a 50-lap event. Advance tickets for the June show will be available the week of May 29 at www.riversidespeedway.ca.
About Riverside International Speedway:
Riverside International Speedway, a 1/3-mile high banked asphalt oval, is located in James River, between New Glasgow and Antigonish, at exit 30 off Trans-
Canada Highway 104. Opened in 1969, the facility was totally rebuilt in 2006 to become a premiere motorsports site, comparable to the best short tracks in Canada and the U.S. To learn more about Riverside Int’l Speedway, please visit www.riversidespeedway.ca or call 902.863.2410.