Mark Martin Turns 50 and Officially Earns Nickname of NASCAR's "Old Man"

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IJanuary 10, 2009

Mark Martin has officially qualified to sign up for his AARP membership, turning 50 on Jan. 9, 2009.  While fellow NASCAR Cup drivers have often affectionately called him "Old Man," he has now earned the moniker by hitting the half-century mark.

Martin was born on Jan. 9, 1959 in Batesville, Ark.  Mark started his racing career in 1974 in a car built and sponsored by his father, Julian Martin.

He won his first Cup race in 1989 at the North Carolina Speedway.  Martin went on to excel not only in the Cup series, but also in the Nationwide (then Busch) series, maintaining the record for 47 wins in that series.

NASCAR Cup team owner Jack Roush spotted Martin's talent and put him in one of Roush Racing’s rides.  The partnership and friendship, between "The Cat in the Hat" and Martin lasted almost two decades.

But this partnership never resulted in a championship for the Martin/Roush combination.  Martin ended his tenure with Roush Racing, having coming in second in Cup championship points no less than four times.

In spite of being physically fit, Martin showed signs of being tired and reduced his schedule to part-time in 2006 and 2007. 

But in 2008, Mark Martin, sitting next to another good friend Rick Hendrick, made the startling announcement that he was returning to full-time racing with Hendrick Motorsports.

This 2009 race season, Martin will be driving the No. 5 Chevy, formerly driven by Casey Mears.  He will be crew-chiefed by the talented Alan Gustafsen and sponsored by Kellogg’s and Carquest. 

Hendrick Motorsports has signed Mark Martin to a two-year contract.  He will drive full-time in 2009 and then reduce to another part-time schedule in 2010.

In the midst of re-inventing his career yet again, Mark Martin has managed to celebrate that critical milestone of reaching the big 5-0.  Yet, in spite of his age, Martin states that he has never been more excited about a race season than he is this year, sharing that he cannot wait to get back on the race track.

With his January birthday, Mark Martin's sign is Capricorn.  This sign suits him perfectly as Capricorns, just like Martin, are known for their leadership ability, efficiency, and setting high goals. 

And there is no doubt that his newly "mature" Martin has set his goals extremely high, that of achieving his first-ever Sprint Cup Championship. 

So, here’s to a most happy significant birthday for the "Old Man" Mark Martin.  May all your dreams, including a run for the Cup Championship, in your 50th year come true.