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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

“I worked hard to be a good driver and mechanic and I put in a ton of effort building my own team and getting the funding to do it,” Marks explained. “When we got into it, we were fresh. We didn’t have the money to hire a top-notch crew chief, so we did it all ourselves. Except for the Outlaws and All Stars, we were racing against the best guys in the country, but we got through it, took the punches and learned.”

He may have been roughed up a bit in his early days, but he soon became a consistent winner. He expanded his horizons, raced against the All Stars and the World of Outlaws and wandered to places such as Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway.

As he gained confidence, he longed to take his program up a notch but knew he needed more help. In the end assistance came from former late model racer Allen Murray, who hailed from Reading, Pa., but his business, M & M Painting & Construction, was based in San Antonio, Texas.

Despite the distance, Murray yearned to be involved in Pennsylvania sprint car action. He met Marks through a mutual friend and decided to lend a needed hand. It was just the boost Marks needed to give the World of Outlaws tour a try. Make no mistake about it, there were periods of elation. He cracked the top ten in World of Outlaw points in 2017 and the following year scored his first of three tour wins at Wisconsin’s Wilmot Raceway.

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Brent Marks and the Murray-Marks Motorsports crew in victory lane after the Historical Big One at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway. – FRANK SMITH PHOTO

While he only nailed down one victory in 2019 it was a big one — the Williams Grove National Open.

When a privateer proves they can compete against strong competition others take notice. In this case Chad Clemmons of CBJ Motorsports signed Marks to run a mixed slate of races during the 2020 season. A highlight came in September when he topped the field during the Governor’s Reign at Eldora.

Nonetheless, by April there was a mutual parting of ways.

“I was 100 percent in to making it work but there were just things behind the scenes that didn’t work out. That’s just the way it is,” Marks said.

“Sometimes people think of racing as a hobby but for teams like mine and CBJ, it is truly a business. There were just some business things that weren’t working so we just decided to go our separate ways.

“It sucked that it happened in the middle of a racing season, but we did what we thought was best for our businesses. I felt like the timing was good. They were able to build on their operation and find somebody else, too.”

Still, it was a challenging time.

“This is what I did for a living and I needed to race but when I left, I still had my car,” Marks said. “I just needed to find help.” He also had no immediate desire to go back on the Outlaw tour full time. Marks was still a bit frayed from that grind.

“It was exciting,” he says, “because that was my dream and I had finally reached that point, but it was extremely difficult going out there and getting our teeth kicked in. You know I tell this to any young guy who wants to race with the Outlaws and who keeps saying they’re ready for it. You’ll never be ready for it. You have to go out there and do it, get your butt beat and put your time in. Once you learn the whole aspect of racing with the World of Outlaws, understanding what it takes, then you will be more successful at it. I just laugh when I hear people say they are ready, but I was the same way. I went out there and it was like, ‘Holy crap, this is hard.’”

When looking for the positives during difficult times there is a tendency to reframe such periods as character building.

“I think it was a really good life lesson,” Marks noted. “I don’t regret it at all. Trust me, there were some nights I wanted to give up. Then I would wake up the next morning and decide to keep at this and make it work. In the end, you have to have the drive to do it. You have to have trust in yourself and have trust in the people around you.”

It was time to regroup and Marks turned to Murray. As early as 2018 Murray and Marks discussed the possibility of forming a deeper partnership, but these talks were tabled when Marks joined CBJ Motorsports.

“Allen’s dream has always been to be a car owner, so I was very open to the conversation about starting a partnership,” Marks said. “It has been such a benefit to our team and operation to get a guy like Allen involved. Our biggest challenge was that we could go out and keep buying parts, but we wanted to put together a good team.

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