Meet the Contenders: Anthony Martin
 August 12, 2016| 
  • Series News

Following a sweep of the tripleheader rounds at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Anthony Martin leads the championship standings heading into the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 9-11.

PALMETTO, Fla. – Anthony Martin came to the United States from his native Australia last year and adjusted quickly to his new racing environs, finishing fourth in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and earning Rookie of the Year honors. He returned in 2016 determined to fight for the championship and the Mazda scholarship that would take him to the next level – all while also balancing a career at home that is unusual, to say the least.

Leaving Mid-Ohio with a 21-point lead in the title chase, Martin returned to Perth-based Goldfields Compressor Hire, where his father Michael is managing director. The 21-year-old Martin works as a mechanic, and relishes the effort involved in keeping massive air compressors and boosters up and running in the recovering Australian mining industry.

“I work on big drill rigs,” said Martin, “doing repairs and regular maintenance, such as changing oil and filters. Sort of what happens when you take your car in, but on a much bigger scale.” 

The elder Martin has been with GCH for over 25 years, and young Martin remembers going to work with his father when he was a mere 8 or 9 years old, learning the ropes and becoming enthralled with machinery. The Australian economy has always been closely tied to the mining and agricultural industries, and Martin knew the importance of the work at a young age.

“Mining is a huge part of the economy and our exports in Australia, especially Western Australia. Mining has been down the past few years and the economy really felt that. I know that this isn’t the typical profession for a race car driver, but I love it. I love working on machinery, I love the mechanical aspect.

“In simple terms, the drill rigs drill a hole in the ground to find out what’s there, whether it be gold, iron ore, diamonds or water, based on what the geologist is looking for. Drilling multiple holes allows the geologist to map the area underground, to see what’s worth going after. The drill rigs are up north, or in Western Australia, and when they come off the contract, they come back to the workshop. We do get sent out to the bush, or underground, but I’m based full-time in the workshop, so I don’t get sent out that often.”

Despite his prowess in both cricket and soccer – and working on mining air compressors – Martin’s future was sealed when he raced a kart for the first time at the age of 13. After winning numerous club, state and national titles, he moved to cars in 2013 after his family moved from Kalgoorlie to Perth. Martin won rookie of the year honors and earned the West Australia Formula Ford Series title.

He returned to the series the following year and was exploring his options for 2015 when the decision was made to come to America and the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, with John Cummiskey Racing. 

Before the start of the 2016 season, Martin moved to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing alongside Canadian Parker Thompson and Russian Nikita Lastochkin. The fact that Cape had won nine driver championships, including the last five consecutive titles, was not lost on Martin.

“This year brought me a different team, different expectations – and different goals. My goal from the start was to win the championship. Driving for Cape brings more pressure to perform, since they’ve won the championship the last five times in a row. I knew the team could do it, but I had to make sure I could do it! I focused on the setup for each race, improving my technique, and it really has paid off. I go out each race and aim to make no mistakes and that’s what has helped me win.

“The championship is within reach now but there’s a long way to go, especially since we’ve seen how quickly the championship can change.”

The direction of the championship can indeed change rapidly, with Martin and Thompson trading stints in the top spot. Martin discovered that having your teammate as your main competition can have its drawbacks.

“It does make it a little bit harder, because we’re teammates and friends. You never want to have a collision, but with a teammate you just can’t have that at all. You wouldn’t take quite the risk with your teammate that you might with someone else. We work really well together and are great mates off the track but when the helmet goes on, we’re both fighting for the front.” 

As the series heads to its final event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – where he earned a second and a fourth-place finish in two races last year – Martin has a plan firmly in place. The Mazda scholarship is the goal of every driver, but Martin sees it as a reward not just of his own hard work but of a network of family, friends and sponsors who have long backed the kid from Kalgoorlie.

“The biggest thing is to minimize mistakes and have a good qualifying session. It’s a difficult track to pass on, so qualifying is key. The Cape boys have been dominant in the past at Mazda Raceway, so I know that Parker will be good as well. I’ll be pushing harder than ever – I have to finish but I want to finish up front so I’ll be fighting like hell for the wins. 

“It would mean everything to win the championship and the Mazda scholarship. It would mean getting to Pro Mazda next year and it would give my parents, family and sponsors a reward for all their hard work. I know what I need to do and I’ll do everything I can to make it happen. It would be the greatest accomplishment of my career.”

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