Car buyers will get ride in Martin's car

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A car dealership owned by Mark Martin is offering a ride in the racer's famed No. 6 Viagra car to anyone who buys a new or used vehicle.

Martin opened the dealership in his Batesville last spring and construction started Monday on a new building that will include a museum to house his trophies and racing cars. The complex is to open in spring 2006.

Martin finished sixth in last weekend's Daytona 500.

Buyers will go to the Memphis Motor Speedway, where they will take a short driver's course before driving around the track 10 times wearing a helmet and firesuit. They'll be able to reach
speeds of up to 130 mph. Afterward they will get to meet Martin,
who has 34 career victories, making him 17th on NASCAR's all-time list.

"That's a retail value of $2,000 without Mark being there," said Vic Davidson, who is in charge of new car sales. "And with Mark being there it's priceless."

Davidson said the promotion runs through March and the racing will be June 24, but the dealership may add more days if sales make it necessary. And heavy drivers may want to slim down because not everyone will fit into Martin's famous No. 6 Roush racing car.

"Just depending on the size of the people will depend on the size of the car," Davidson said. "Of course Mark's small, so
Mark's car will be small."

Larry Shaw, who lives in Batesville and raced with Martin when they were young, said the dealership and promotions are just the racer's way to give back. For example, Shaw noted that Martin is bringing NASCAR Nextel champion Kurt Busch to Batesville on March 25 and 26 for "Mark Martin Fan Days".

"People are calling from California trying to get hotel rooms for when he is here," Batesville Mayor Joe Biard said Tuesday.

But the dealership and promotions aren't where it ends for Martin, 46, who is retiring from full-time Nextel Cup racing after this season. Martin is building a home near Batesville on the banks of the White River.

That's why Martin chose to have his high-profile promotion nearby, Shaw said.

"Mark would want to do something close to home he knows that people can leave and go to Memphis easy," Shaw said. "He wanted to do it close to home. Mark's going to be really involved in that."