BETSY LAYNE, Ky. (WYMT) - It wasn't all that long ago that Nathan Martin was helping lead the Betsy Layne Bobcats to the All 'A' state championship.
"I mean of every team in the All 'A' in Kentucky, we're, Betsy Layne, in the final four. And when Derek (Tackett) grabbed the rebound, and everyone just knew it was over. I mean, it just, it gives me chill bumps right now thinking about it, no lie, and that was two years ago," says Martin, who was named MVP of the 2011 All 'A' state tournament.
But now he is winning a different kind of trophy.
"I mean, all growing up, you see the Victory Lane, you see the donut, you see the burnout, you see everything. I mean, that's all you dream of is, you know, you see Carl Edwards doing flips. If I could a flip, I would have done fifty that night."
Martin developed a strong connection with racing at a young age, spending time at the track with his late father.
"I know I was probably four or five, and my dad would sneak me away from my mom. He would sneak me away on Saturdays, and we would go to Thunder Ridge. That was in Prestonsburg back then. So, he would take me there. From the first time I ever can remember him taking me, I was hooked."
And as influential and encouraging as his dad was with his interest in the sport, his mother feels differently.
"My mom, she hates racing. I mean, she dreads Saturday, but, you know, she sticks by me, and she's happy to see me when I'm happy."
Martin first drove a racecar in 2007, but it wasn't until 2010 that he began racing competitively.
"It's side-by-side. It's hectic. From the time they drop the green flag, you have a car right beside of you, less than six inches from your door. And when you're on the gas going into a curve, and you see another guy sliding, you don't, you have no idea if he's going to come into you, you don't have no idea if you're car is going to stay there. So, it's just adrenaline. It's just, it's as much as any other sport."
However, in March of the following year, in 2011, Martin's dad passed away, and Nathan's future in dirt track was suddenly in question.
"I really thought about quitting, and quitting racing, because that was always something that we done."
But less than three months later, with "In Memory of Dad" on the side of his car, Martin would earn his first career victory.
"I don't even know how to explain it. It was emotional big time, you know, because Dad wasn't there, and it was just happy because, you know, I finally done it; I accomplished another goal in life that I never thought I was going to be able to do. It was just unbelievable how it happened, you know. All of my family was there that night. No one missed it, and it was just, it was just a big tribute."
He would win two more races that season, but would really break onto the dirt track scene during the summer of 2012, winning four of the first five feature races.
"When we pull into the pits, I love watching everyone look at us because, you know, they're saying, 'Uh oh! He's back,' because now we do have a name for ourselves down at the track."
Martin would total nine wins during the race season and win the 2012 points championship by nearly 250 points, but he was just a small part of his team's success.
"I can't say that it's all me because it's not. I just, I help anytime they need it, and I drive."
Martin and his team have certainly made a name for themselves at the track, and they're hoping the other drivers have taken notice.
"I want them to say, 'Oh, there's the Martin guy. Dag gone it! There goes our chance!'."
While Martin is currently focused on getting through school, he says he would like to continue his racing career, and you can bet that during his journey, he'll be "Doin' it for Dad."