There will be several new faces in the Pro Stock class this season including former drag radial standout Marty Robertson, who has announced a full-season program with the Elite Motorsports team.
Robertson, native of Ft. Worth, Texas, has dreamed of racing in Pro Stock since he was a kid, and now that has become a reality. After much success racing in eighth-mile drag radial events with his supercharged Plymouth Barracuda, Robertson recently had a chance to earn his NHRA Pro Stock license in Bradenton, Fla., behind the wheel of his Curing Kids Cancer Chevrolet Camaro. The week-long test went well enough for Robertson to commit to a full season, and he figures to be a leading contender for the Auto Club Road to the Future award, which honors NHRA’s top professional rookie racer.
“It was really a big move for me and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid,” Robertson said. “Business had always been going at such a heavy pace, I couldn’t commit to the Pro Stock deal. Now I’m at a place in my life where I can do it. This last [week] of testing, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.”
It’s eye-opening talk from a guy who experienced all the thrills and speeds of Radial vs. the World action. As wild and unpredictable as those times were, it’s a different type of excitement he’s found behind the wheel of a Pro Stock Camaro.
“It’s just a rush for me. With eighth-mile racing, it all happens so fast you don’t even know what happened,” Robertson said. “The difference here, you have to do everything perfectly to achieve what you want to achieve. You have the drive the car correctly and it’s amazing to be challenged like that. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done.”
As previously noted, Robertson initially planned to just race a part-time schedule as he got his feet wet in the suddenly resurgent NHRA Pro Stock class, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020. Racing alongside world champions Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin, and the rest of the Elite Motorsports team, those plans quickly changed. Robertson intends to race all 18 events, starting at the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. He also plans to compete in the upcoming $50,000 to win specialty event in Orlando on March 6-8.
“I’m still trying to take it all in. Getting to be around the elite of racing, the challenge of it, it’s just going to make me a better racer and person.”
Robertson jumped in the car the second it was out of the trailer last weekend in Bradenton, getting coached by defending Pro Stock world champ Enders throughout the whole process. By the end of the week, Robertson was closing in on a dozen full passes, making impressive progress in a short time. Robertson took close to no credit for that achievement, again praising the inner workings of an Elite Motorsports team long regarded for its skills and teamwork.
“Being around a pro environment at this level, it’s just a perfect fit,” he said. “The energy that comes out of this crew and this team, it’s just so fun to be around. Watching all of them work – Rick and Rickie Jones, Richard, Erica, Jeg, Troy [Coughlin] Jr. – I just had to pinch myself. It’s such a blessing.”
It made things come together quickly, even while learning to drive a clutch car for the first time. In a matter of days, Enders’ signature was on his license, something Robertson still considers surreal.
“She took me under her wing and chose to mentor me. I don’t think I could have gotten licensed in as short a time if not for her. She’s just an awesome teacher,” Robertson said. “I started out with the intention to run 10 races, but if I’m going to do this, I’m going to run a full season,” Robertson said. “After being around the team, just the energy and excitement they have, I made my mind up to run the full season.”