By Paul Betit
It hasn't taken Shawn Martin long to get the hang of driving a Super Late Model race car.
Last Sunday, Martin made his seasonal debut in the championship series at Oxford Plains Speedway and pulled out a win in the 40-lap Pro Late Model feature after starting last on the 14-car grid.
The victory came after Martin skipped the April 28 season opener.
"We missed opening day so they automatically penalize you two weeks," he said. "You have to start last for two weeks."
Normally the last spot on the starting grid is reserved for the previous week's winner.
It was only the second time Martin had run his car as a Super Late Model.
On April 21, he finished eighth in a 42-car field in the season-opening 150-lap PASS North race at Oxford Plains.
"We qualified 14th and we were on our way to a top-five finish, and we kind of got closed up on the last restart and fell back a little bit. It was the first time we ever ran that car as a Super Late Model and it did great."
On April 14, Martin finished 15th among 30 cars while driving the same car in the American Canadian Tour's season-opening 150-lap NH Governor's Cup at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire.
After the ACT race, Martin and his crew converted the Late Model into a Super Late Model.
"It's actually quite a bit of work," he said. "You've got wider tires. You've got a better shock package in the car, a four-barreled carburetor and the weights are different."
Martin, a two-time track champ at Oxford Plains, said there's a big difference in the handling characteristics between the two types of cars.
"(The Super Late Model) drives altogether different just because of the amount of grip in the tires," he said. "The difference is you can really get up on your wheel and really be aggressive with your driving as opposed to running on the smaller tires, where you're on the verge of spinning out almost every lap. You have so much grip that you can really manhandle the car."
Martin, a telecommunications manager for the Lewiston-based Oxford Networks, intends to run for points in the Pro Late Model division at Oxford Plains this season as well as races on the region's two racing tours.
"We might run one or two ACT races this year," he said. "We're going to run whatever we feel like."
Martin said it takes about a week to convert his car from a Late Model to a Super Late Model.
"We've got everything documented pretty well so we can probably do it in three or four nights," he said.
After next Sunday's races, Oxford Plains will start running its top four divisions Friday nights.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: