Ahead of the Curve

Auto racing for me is kinda' like classical music, I don't know much about it but I know what I like.  And I liked hearing Mark Martin's name dropped into the NASCAR mix.

Martin, 54 years of age, announced on Friday his retir...., ahem, his exit from competitive, Sprint Cup racing, though, when reading between-the-lines, he may've left the driver's door ajar just a tad: "I don't have any (Stewart-Haas) racing scheduled for 2014 ("Martin" / Fox / 11-8 / Spencer)."

Whenever I'd hear that the mature Martin ran well or took checkered flag it'd re-charge my psychic battery.  I got the same boost when Jamie Moyer helped his Phillies to a World Series title back in '08 and when Brett Favre went to the other side and led the Purple Gang to cusp of Super Bowl-ness in 2010 (NFCT).

Reaching 40 will do that to a person.  It's about that time when you start seriously pondering the aging process, your mortality, preserving (Minoxidil, Ranitidine, etc.) and appreciating what ya' got, what ya' had, what you might've had and what lay ahead.  Heady stuff.

Maybe we're not old yet if someone our age can still 'cut the mustard' in a young person's game. That's why I was hoping Allen Iverson, Julio Franco, Rickey Henderson and Ray Lewis would play forever, and they probably could've!  It's why I'm stoked about Jason Giambi getting invited to spring training '14.  I'll bet comedians put a med-walker outside his locker ("Mr. 3000").  He'll laugh.

So, in honor of Mark putting closure on his impressive 31-year race-tenure as one of NASCAR's leading men, I've applied what little knowledge I have about driving fast and listed my Greatest Chase-Race-Run Scenes in Movie History, the Antonio Vivaldis, Claude Debusseys, Felix Mendelssohns of sinematic speed*:

The Seven-Ups ('73): Roy Scheider (Jerry Summers) & Bill Hickman;

Ronin ('98): Rob De Niro, Jean Reno, Nata McElhone, Jon Pryce & Stell Skarsgard; 

Mad Max ('79): Mel Gibson, Vincent Gil ("the Night-Rider") and leggy lady (?);

The French Connection I ('71 car) & II ('75 foot): Gene Hackman, Fern Rey & Pierre Nicoli; 

Terminator 2 ('91 / garage - aqueduct): A. Schwarzenegger, Ed Furlong, Rob Patrick;

To Live and Die in L.A. ('85): William Petersen, John Pankow and assorted bad guys; 

Bullitt ('68): Steve McQueen, Bill Hickman & shot-gun friend (?);

Friendly Persuasion ('56): Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire & Bob Middleton;

National Velvet ('44): Elizabeth Taylor and King Charles "The Pie" (horse);

Sullivan's Travels ('41): Joel McCrea and Payne Johnson; 

F/X  ('86): Bryon Brown, Martha Gehman & Joe Grifasi;

Oversight Additions (12-4-13)

Ben-Hur ('59): Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd & supporting cast;

Ben-Hur ('25 silent): Ramon Novarro, Francis Bushman & others. 

  * excludes movies with heavy utilization of computer-generated or enhanced performance

Steven Keys


Photo Credit: M. Martin / wc.cca / Las Vegas / 3-11-12 / B.Neudorff

November 10, 2013  08:30 PM ET

Mark Martin will still be around the Sprint Cup scene........first, as a consultant to Stewart~Haas and as a back up driver if they or anyone need it.....as long as it is a one off race and not a series of them.....but when he eventually leaves the scene, I will miss him.......he has been a respectful constant in my race fan life.

Great selection of movies.....I have seen most of them.

November 10, 2013  08:38 PM ET

To me, Mark has always been a reminder of the days of the "Gentleman Racers".

November 11, 2013  11:31 AM ET

LEB-BMTF & UBP: thanks for reading and the add'l insights, personal perspective on Mark.

November 11, 2013  03:46 PM ET

To me, Mark has always been a reminder of the days of the "Gentleman Racers".


November 12, 2013  05:17 PM ET

Martin is a good guy, good driver, good influence, and knows his stuff. Not many have all those qualities. I hope we still see him now and again. he will be missed.


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