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“There Were 12 Days Off In 16 Months” – Departed Crew Chief Revealed Hectic Schedule With Mark Martin On One Of His Final Podcast Appearances

Published 01/18/2024, 1:19 AM EST

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The world of NASCAR was hit with the shocking news of crew chief Ryan Pemberton’s passing earlier this month. He was 54. One of his final appearances in any kind of media was in the recent episode of The Scene Vault Podcast, which was recorded in December last year. The departed NASCAR insider spoke about how hectic it was to work with Mark Martin and how his work schedule extended to a whopping 353 days a year.

Mark Martin is a motorsports legend. His success in NASCAR might have been limited, but there were other places where his brilliance shone through. Martin is a 5-time IROC champion and a 4-time ASA National Tour champion. In the Cup Series, he has won several big races like the Southern 500, the Coca-Cola 600, and the Winston 500. He has come second in the Cup standings on several occasions but never managed to win the big prize.

Ryan Pemberton doesn’t remember anything about his time with Mike Martin except work

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On The Scene Vault Podcast, Pemberton was asked about some good stories about his time working with Mark Martin. Martin’s fans might have wanted to get some insight into the behind-the-scenes but, unfortunately, were left disappointed. The stories Pemberton revealed were not exactly what one would expect. The crew chief’s first season in the Cup Series was with Martin at Roush Racing. At the time (1988), his brother Robin Pemberton was the crew chief.

He revealed that work pressure, especially during his first season, was so much that he could not recall any of the moments he shared with the driver on or off the track. Pemberton revealed that they only received 12 days off in 16 months, which is ridiculous to even think about today.

“It was so busy back then. It was really hard to absorb everything that was going on. It was just wide open. We worked every single day. I think there were 12 days off in 16 months when I first started there. 12 days. I remember all 12 of them because there were only 12 of them,” Pemberton said.

“We worked every single day except for like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, two times so that’s four. Thanksgiving Day twice so there’s six. I think we took off one Fourth of July, it wasn’t the Fourth of July cause we were at Daytona. But like I literally can count to 12 days where we didn’t go to the shop or race track,” he added.

His hectic work schedule also included testing, which is certainly a priority for a team before every weekend to get the car as fine-tuned as possible for race day. And it turns out that the #6 Roush Racing team had some heavy-duty work cut out in 1988.

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Legendary crew chief revealed the sheer scale of testing ahead of races that year

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Ryan Pemberton revealed that they had tested Mark Martin’s car a whopping 26 times that year. Testing sessions require a lot of patience and they can go on for hours and it really can get quite challenging for the people involved. As far as Pemberton was concerned, the pressure was so much that his first season with Martin seemed like a blur.

“I think we tested 26 times that year. We tested before every single race…except for the second Daytona, the second Talladega, the second Pocono, and the second Michigan. Every other race track we tested before that race, whether it be a week or two or whatever before the race. So that’s however many races we raced then – 26 or 28. And then we tested 24 times and that would be an extra Talladega test or an extra Daytona test before the season even started. You take all those tests plus the racing, it’s a blur to me,” he added.

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Ryan Pemberton’s words truly stand testament to just how deeply everyone involved with the racing side of things in NASCAR. His dedication and work ethic will always be a standard that teams would want to strive for. He may have gone too early, but his legacy is here to stay.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

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Ariva Debnath