Harold Martin, racing team owner and driver for ACDelco and guest speaker for the International Hot Rod Association, speaks March 31 at Watson Fine Arts Center at St. Philip’s College.
Race car driver Harold Martin credits his father with the inspiration to get a good education that led to his success.
“We all have a dream,” Martin said. “For me, that dream was to be the world’s best.”
Martin, ACDelco racing team owner, spoke to automotive technology students at St. Philip’s College March 31.
Martin’s dreams began unfolding while working with his father in a two-bay home garage with cars from a junkyard on a $50 a month budget “He showed me the path of hard work,” Martin said.
The younger Martin also worked in service shops for free to gain knowledge, he said. Martin holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Oakland University in Detroit. “I was in the exact same shoes each and every one of you is wearing,” he said. “I look today at what is available to you folks and say wow.”
Today, Martin is the owner of the ACDelco Pontiac Grand Am racing team. The team has a budget of about $3 million to finish a race car and a 50,000 square-foot facility. Martin said at the top of the list of his accomplishments in his life is “having the opportunity to put flowers on the living.” He said he is happy to have the opportunity to share his successes with his parents and loved ones.
The long hours of work and education along with the thrift paid off when Martin reached his record speed of 230 mph in September 2004 at the Mac Tools United States Nationals in Indianapolis, he said. Prior to the race, the team had problems with the new engine they had just installed, which had taken a
year and a half to build. Martin was the last race car on the track, but despite the problems, he qualified to race in the next round and broke his own speed record, he said.
“It was huge and pretty special,” he said. An audience member asked how to become a part of the ACDelco team. Martin encouraged the students to send résumés and questions to him and to develop network communication skills. He also recommended looking for internships. “Have persistence over resistance,” he said. He said some of the members of his team are people he met at speaking engagements. With Martin’s help, one audience member was able to experience the rush of being part of the ACDelco team.
Automotive technology freshman Michael Orth was awarded a chance to work in the pit crew at the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals at the San Antonio Raceway April 1 and Saturday. “It’s something I’m glad to be a part of and get a chance to do,” Orth said.
Automotive skills are as high a skill as any other profession, he said. Martin suggested developing an expertise in a skill that’s difficult and most people run away from. This makes the person with the skill more valuable. “You’ve got to think world-class service,” he said. The skill to figuring out what’s wrong with a car is as deep as a doctor figuring out what’s wrong with a person, he said.
“You guys get to practice,” he said he has told the doctors. “When a car comes in with a problem, we have to get it right.” Martin is the owner of Martin Technologies, which designs and develops automotive components, is the co-inventor of the Cadillac Northstar engine and has 10 patents. One patent is a technique for measuring fuel octane in every gas bill. The computer in the engine senses and tests the level of octane in the gas and adjusts the performance automatically to the conditions.
This technique was developed because some gas stations were putting regular fuel in premium pumps. He also started his own shoe company called MavadeMVP, which went from selling in 14 stores to 1,400 stores. His son, Michael Martin, helped create one of the shoes when Michael was 5 years old.The shoe was a race car shoe that looked like a car with a taxometer on the tongue and an 8,500 rpm shifter. Martin marketed the shoe in every Kid’s Footlocker store in the country for three years. Before he launched his entrepreneurial career, he worked for General Motors but quit to start his own businesses. “I always have a positive outlook and didn’t expect success overnight,” he said.