There are millions of stories in drag racing, and Art Martin possesses more than his fair share. Martin, who hails from Cloquet, Minn., has been into the race scene for decades collecting tales, and we were fortunate to cross paths with the kind fellow not too long ago and wrestle a few from him.
Martin made his name on racetracks in the upper Midwest states, but we ran into him in February of 2017 at the drag strip in Phoenix, where there was plenty of sunshine and racecars and not a hint of snow or ice. Martin wasn’t there to race, though; he was just happy to get his fix as a spectator for the test session at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park ahead of the NHRA season.
We found him on the patch of asphalt just past the grandstands, where the Pro Stockers had set up shop, and he had a stack of photos in his hands.
“This is my 1961 409 Biscayne,” he said, handing over one of the pics. “I raced an original at the 1962 U.S. Nationals. It was one of 147 made in the factory in Janesville, Wisconsin.”
We’re sad to report that the original car came to an untimely ending in a junk yard long ago. As can sometimes happen, life got in the way of racing. But Martin always had a soft spot in his heart for that old Chevy.
Most of the photos he shared with us that day in Phoenix weren’t of the Biscayne he raced in 1962 – they’re actually of the complete replica he put together of his original 409. This beautiful car isn’t just for show, either. Martin has enjoyed taking the 4-speed to the track and making passes down the quarter-mile that land in the high 12-second range.
He purchased all new stock parts for a newly acquired 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne in the early 1990s, and he rebuilt that car to factory specs. Martin enlisted the help of fellow Minnesota-bred racer Jason Line to get the Chevy race-ready. They spent a good couple of weeks putting it together in Line’s father’s garage.
“The first time we got it running, he was like a little kid,” recalled Line.
Looking at the pictures, we can see why. That car is straight-up cool.
Scroll down for more photos!