4:48pm, the summer grind and the hot weather has set in but, it’s just another season for Mike Marlar Racing and the team #157 as Mike tunes a shock/spring setup inside his team trailer. I recently was able to catch up with Mike, his wife Stacy, and crew at dirt track in Dubuque, IA for a World of Outlaws Late Model Sanctioned event which the driver was currently in second place in points. 90 degrees was the temp they were dealt that afternoon as the readied their car for action. Between making shock and spring changes, tire selections, and gearing, Mike was looking at the track. The dirt surface will change as the night goes on by itself. Will the track add water to the surface to make it have more grip? Sometimes the extra water will cause the track to chunk out and leave a rougher surface. There are things the #157 team can control and others they cannot. Being a former racer myself, and how I became friends with Mike, I remember studying the track surface. Now I live my racing vicariously through the #157.
Traveling together as a team is their secret sauce. Mike, 40, from Winfield TN has been racing professionally since 2001. And up until this past year, he was mainly racing regionally with the occasional national event. This season, he has set out to chase the World of Outlaws tour. The rigors and the financial commitment is tough. Living in a toter home between tracks, hoping you have all of the gear and tools you will need for several weeks at a time on the road and away from anything that resembles home or a race shop. Enter Stacy Marlar, Mike’s wife. Stacy is school teacher back in TN, and the summers off afford her the opportunity to hit the tracks with the team. But this isn’t the only reason. Stacy knows her way around the track and the race cars. Having grown up a racing fan before her and Mike met, she is very comfortable at the track. 6:07pm, the hot laps (practice laps) are about to start. Stacy is quickly preparing Mikes helmet, gathering his race-ceiver so Mike can hear the tracks commands to the drivers.
Josh Davis and Jerry Sprouse are Mike’s two “behind the scenes” warriors. These guys prepare the car each and every night, making constant changes to the track conditions and then just to reset everything the next night. I asked Josh if he was having fun. “Yea, we are running good and that’s always more fun when you have good runs.” Watching the conversations between Mike, Stacy, Josh, and Jerry showed their bond. There was not as many words spoken as everyone knows their job and task at hand. You can tell that their personalities gel and maybe deep down, it’s just another race like they used to compete in before the larger crowds and big stage of this tour started.
10:09 pm, Mike was the fourth fastest qualifier and won his heat race, beating out Brandon Sheppard of the Rocket Chassis house car team. What appeared to be another first place finish in the feature, Mike blew a right rear tire with just 5 laps to go. $10,000 pay day gone. But also in a tight points battle, a huge loss in the standings.
11:37pm, as the team loads the car back into the trailer, they have already made plans to start the drive to Minnesota where they will be racing in less than 24 hours. There is never time to relax. And that is where having a team and a little bit of home with you matters. It is no wonder Mike has always been a fan favorite and hopefully he can add World of Outlaw Champion to his credits!
-Update: Marlar won the next night in Minnesota and again in North Dakota as he sits atop the points lead in the World of Outlaws Series, and one race closer to the $100,000 top prize.
-John Mulligan, Director of Marketing
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