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Justin Marks stands on the gas at Waynesfield Raceway Park in Ohio. - TIM AYLWIN PHOTO

Brent Marks And His Band Of Brothers

As the Murray-Marks Motorsports team pointed its rig west, the team had a 1,000-mile ahead of it. This was hardly new territory
for this crew.

The romance of the open road long celebrated in song and printed word had died for each man some time ago. They also knew that the experience of each journey was highly contextualized. When you are racing up front towns just seem to fly by. However, when every event is a struggle, the highway is just a ribbon of quicksand leading to disappointment.

Brent Marks is on top of the mountain. A historic weekend at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway put an exclamation point on a winning streak that had fattened his wallet and lifted everyone’s spirits. While they knew that this high couldn’t last forever that hardly dampened the mood.

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Brent Marks (19m) leads a group of competitors at Ohio’s Waynesfield Raceway Park. – TIM AYLWIN PHOTO

They had all faced tough times before and understood the importance of savoring the good times.

With 16 victories in the bag as of Sept. 5, Marks reflected on his triumphant summer.

“It feels really good,” he said, “We have worked really hard to get to this point. We’re out there having fun and having a good time with each other. I’m proud of this team.”

The record shows that Marks’ pride is not misplaced. There is the simple matter of counting the number of wins and money earned, but even that fails to tell the whole story. The overall sense of accomplishment is all the sweeter because it didn’t come easily.

Marks was exposed to speed early. His father, Jeff, was a regular at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway and eventually helped racer Donnie Wolfe. When Wolfe was sidelined by injury, the Marks family stepped away from the sport for a time, but it wasn’t long before Brent Marks made his driving debut.

By the age of nine, he had made his first go-kart start at Shippensburg Speedway.

“I just started racing more and more up and down the East Coast and we all dedicated our lives to it,” Marks said. “I won a lot of races. There were times we ran three classes a night and won all three.”

Marks started with a Shippensburg track title and eventually bagged 16 championships and more than 350 victories.

In the 2005, Marks moved to 600 ccc micros and hit the road all along the East Coast. This was well before the days of high-dollar micro races, so with little incentive to hang around, Marks quickly took aim on the next step in his career.

“We never did a lot of traveling in the micros and we never raced for a championship,” Marks said. “We did so much point racing in karts we decided we didn’t want to do that anymore.”

Jeff and Karen Marks were willing to help their son realize his dreams, but all concerned had to be pragmatic.

“I wanted to move up to sprint cars, but it took some time to get something going. We decided to sell our 600 stuff and do it, but my dad told me, ‘All I can do for you is one car, one motor and we can run one night a week. That’s it.’

“We started racing at Lincoln and I started getting better and got some sponsorship. That’s when we thought we might be able to run twice a week, so we started dabbling at Williams Grove. Next thing you know here we are.”

It doesn’t matter where you begin your rookie campaign, getting a feel for a sprint car for the first time is a tall order. However, in the Keystone State neophytes can expect no mercy from a host of talented drivers who race for their dinner.

Marks, 31, came tantalizingly close to tasting victory in his inaugural season, but in the end had to wait until deep into the 2010 slate to reach the top step on the podium. It took some time to get the ultimate reward, but at no point was he discouraged with his progress. He was working, going to school and trying to race.

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