Mark Martin has spent 30 years in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.
He has raced against many of the sport’s greatest drivers including Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and modern day heroes like Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Martin raced at the 200 mph superspeedways and banged fenders on the notorious bullrings in the days before SAFER barriers, HANS devices, full-faced helmets and roof flaps.
Nothing he’s encountered has ever unnerved the 53-year-old Batesville, Ark. native who’s made 40 trips to victory lane.
But, there’s still one thing in racing that makes his skin crawl. “It’s good luck charms,” laughs Martin. “I don’t like them at all.”
To this day, Martin immediately hands off anything that most consider “lucky.”
“I try not to insult fans when they give me something,” he said. “I try to be nice and say thank you, but I can’t get rid of them fast enough.”
That’s unusual in a sport where some drivers carry a rabbit’s foot in the car, tape verses to the dash, put lucky coins in their uniform pockets. Through the years drivers have shunned green paint schemes, eating peanuts near the car before the race and driving the No. 13.
But, Martin said he has good reason to shun the supposed bringers of good fortune.
His dim view of good luck charms dates back to one Sunday afternoon in 1993 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. A well-meaning fan gave Martin a four-leaf clover he taped to the dash of his car.
“I got hit in the back right after the green flag came out,” Martin recalled. “I got hit so hard it destroyed my car and ruined our race. We got all tore up.”
That was the end of good luck charms for Martin. “I have been anti lucky charm ever since.”