Mike Marlar scaling back but still looking to run up front

Mike Marlar

Mike Marlar

Mike Marlar has won some of the biggest events in Dirt Late Model racing. But at an age when many racers are just hitting their prime, the 36-year-old competitor has come to the realization that some things must take a higher priority in life. Instead of planning out a full schedule of racing and travel for the 2014 season, the Winfield, Tenn. driver has decided to scale back his racing efforts to remain closer to home and assist in the running of his family’s business.

“I’ve been very fortunate, as I’ve been racing these cars and gotten better at it, to get to branch out and do it on a national level,” Marlar said in a recent interview. “But we have family commitments we’ve got to take care of so we’re going to scale back a little bit.”

As last season neared its completion, Marlar amicably split with previous team owner Norman Bryson after the pairing had won several races together, including the $25,000 Hillbilly 100 at the I-77 Speedway in Ripley, WV back in 2012 and the $20,000 Clash at the Mag in Columbus, Miss. in 2013.

At the end of 2013 Marlar has joined forces with Tennessean Ronnie Delk on a more limited basis.

“I have a very good opportunity,” Marlar said of his deal with Delk. “I’ve been fortunate in racing to have good rides. And last year when we decided we were going to scale back this year, Norman was able to sell his equipment because he told me when we started that deal that whenever I wanted to cut back, he would just sell it. All of that worked out nice. He was able to sell and I was able to come across with Ronnie Delk, who asked me to drive his car some.”

Delk purchased a new Rocket Chassis at the end of last season and Marlar found immediate success in the ride as he drove to victory at the Smoky Mountain Speedway in October.

Marlar's #157 Rocket

Marlar’s Ronnie Delk-owned #157 Rocket

“We’ll have good equipment,” Marlar explained of his most recent opportunity. “We don’t ever want to quit racing, but we’ve got to take care of some other things too. So I’ll have good equipment to race whenever I want to race. Actually, we’ll probably race quite a bit, but we won’t take a lot of time to be travelling. We’ll do a lot more local type stuff than we’ve ever done before.”

When not on the track, Marlar will keep himself busy helping to run his family’s salvage yard along with his father and brother. He also recently started a towing and recovery service.

But the former championship modified driver knows that stepping off the national stage will not mean the competition is going to get easier.

“Some of the best in the business are in east Tennessee so we’re fortunate to have good competition,” he said. “Something about this area has bred some really good race car drivers.”

And finally, Marlar still has goals in racing that he would like to achieve.

“There’s races that I’d like to win and haven’t won,” he explained. “The Dirt Track(World Championship) was one of them. I’ve had a glimpse of that deal and been in position a couple of times to have good results up there but it just didn’t work out. But we want to win all the races.

“I don’t know how much scaling back will hurt me driving wise,” Marlar added. “But I still have the equipment it takes to win those races. We’d still like to win some of those big races and it’s not totally out of the picture of doing right now.”

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