Despite having owned his own team for more than 10 years, Brent Marks threw out the playbook when reforming it last year.
The result: several crown jewel victories in less than a year, including the 2021 Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway, the World of Outlaws World Finals finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, the 2022 PA Speedweeks title, and the $100,000-to-win Historical Big One and the $175,000-to-win 39th Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in the same week.
Now, the 61st NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series (Aug. 10-13) is next on the list for the Myerstown, PA native.
To be successful, he knew it would take more than good equipment. He needed to reform his team with the right people. And with the help of Allen Murray – owner of M&M Painting & Construction, a long-time sponsor of Marks – and the Murray family, he got them.
After years of toying with the idea, Marks and Murray worked out an agreement to officially form Murray-Marks Motorsports at the end of 2021. With the agreement came the resources to retain veteran crew members Heath Moyle and Dennis Christ (aka “Fud).
“That’s just been the biggest thing,” Marks said. “I have a great group of guys who have the same goals and mindset as I do. And the same work ethic and, you know, just there for each other. We all don’t have our own agenda. We’re all there for each other, wanting to accomplish the same things. That just makes it a fun environment to work in. I think that has been the biggest thing.
“We just have a really, really good team of people, and, like I said, have the same goals. It’s been a great environment to work in. it’s been great to work with Heath and Fud. We’ve been working extremely hard to get to where we’re at and to see all that hard work pay off is not only rewarding for me, it’s rewarding for those two as well and I see that every day. It’s just really a special deal. I’ve been extremely lucky to have those guys want to come on board.”
Making sure he had the right people was a key stipulate of Marks’ agreement with Murray.
“That was my biggest thing, especially discussing the partnership with Allen, was, ‘Hey, if we’re going to do this, we need to do it right,’” Marks said. “’It’s not just about spending the money on actual race car parts or whatever it may be. We need to invest in good people, and I think that is going to propel this race team into something that can be great.’ That’s what we’ve done. And I think it is paying off.”
Marks set his own team aside in 2020 – after three full years on the World of Outlaws tour (2017-19) – to join CJB Motorsports. His time with the Pennsylvania-based team lasted about 16 months before they agreed to split, leaving Marks contemplating his next move.
He analyzed his entire career. The good and the bad. From it, he saw people as the key to his success. “Great people.”
“There were some really great people over on the other team,” he said. “That’s why when I got back into my car I wanted to make sure, you know, because I had to start fresh and build a new team, and I just wanted to make sure I got the right people in place.
“That’s just nice, knowing you can show up to work every day and show up to the race track every week, and knowing you have people behind you that support you 100% and you’re not always watching your back in a sense,” Marks said. “That’s been very nice and I think been a major factor in the way that I perform.”
Now, having seen and experienced the success of his idea, he enters the Knoxville Nationals with the highest level of confidence in his career – especially having won at Knoxville Raceway with the World of Outlaws in June. However, his main goal for the prestigious race – boasting a $175,000 payday – is a top five.
The reasoning, he said, is the track’s unique black zook clay and wide corners continue to be a constant learning curve.
Having grown up racing in Pennsylvania, he said he got used to “start and stop” tracks with high-speed straightaways and slow, tight, corners. So, when he joined the World of Outlaws tour, he needed to adjust to the wider tracks like Knoxville and Eldora. And while he was able to adapt to the latter, he’s still learning to master the half-mile Sprint Car Capital of the World.
“I like how our Knoxville program is coming along,” Marks said. “I don’t know, I’ve been up and down at Knoxville. I’ve had really good runs and really bad runs. I feel like we’ve been more consistent at Knoxville every time we’ve raced there. We got a win there back in June, so that was obviously great.
“I know if we can put ourselves in position on Saturday (during the Knoxville Nationals finale) we’ll have a really good shot at a top three for sure. I know I still have a lot to learn at Knoxville. As far as how to race the racetrack, I’m still learning how to do that as a driver. Knoxville has been pretty difficult for me. It just hasn’t come naturally there, and I have to put a lot of work and effort into figuring that racetrack out. I just feel like if we can put ourselves in a decent position, we can have a shot at a top three. My goal this year for Nationals is a top five. But a top three would be excellent. If we can win it that would be unreal. We’ll definitely try our best. We’ll give it 1,000% for sure.”
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