Championship Contender Conner Martell Talks About Racing in Lites Series
Since it's inauguration back in 2013, GRC Lites has created new stars in the world of rallycross. One of those up and coming stars is Conner Martell. Since piloting a GRC Lites car since 2015, RX360 has been keeping an eye on Martell as he continues to progress within the sport. This season we weren't just keeping and eye on him, we were standing up and taking notice. In order to help fans get to know more about him, RX360 sat down with Conner last month to ask a few questions. RX360: Tell us a little bit about your background. CM: When I was about 14, I moved down to Georgia to do motocross. I trained at Millsaps Training Facility for four years. I had a lot of injuries and my last injury made me stop racing. After I stopped racing motocross I tried to find something that I would like to do. I loved racing, any type of racing. Rhys Millen contacted me and asked if I wanted to rent a car for one of the GRC races three years ago. I did my first race and made the final. I think I got seventh and then he asked me to race for him again at the season finally in Los Angeles that year because he didn't have anyone to drive. So, I raced again and got fifth. During the off-season, DirtFish contacted me and asked me if I wanted to come and see their facility and drive and see where it would go. We got along well and they asked me if I would want to race for them that following year. I ended up fourth overall in points and now this year I'm here sitting in second. RX360: Do you remember your first thoughts the first time you got behind the wheel of a Lites racecar? CM: Yeah, the first time I drove it I only had two hours to test in it before the race. Obviously I was pretty nervous but at the same time I was excited because I didn't have any pressure. I was just going out there to have fun and to see how I would do. I did really well. I didn't know what to expect but obviously motocross helped me out a lot with it because it's pretty similar to rallycross. You're racing against other people, you're all going into the first turn at the same time. It wasn't as nerve wracking as I thought it was going to be. I was really comfortable with it right off going into it.
RX360: Did you ever have a mentor or someone you could go to for advice and tips? CM: Rhys helped me out a lot the first two races that I did. He was pretty much my mentor and he was my spotter he told me what to do and where. Then once I was on the DirtFish team my spotter Andrew helped me out as we went through the season and as I test at DirtFish I'm always getting better. RX360: You're obviously having a great season but how do you deal with and bounce back from a rough day of racing? CM: The biggest thing you have to think about is that there is a lot of luck involved in this type of racing. Anything can happen and you're going to get hit and you're going to get unlucky at some point. You kind of just have to deal with it and not think about what just happened and move ahead. You have two heat races, a semi-final, and a final. So, those heat races, if you do bad in them it's o.k. because you still have the semifinal to get a good grid position. I know a people who worry about the times too much and it gets in their heads and then they over drive and don't do as well. So, you have to have an open mind to go out there and do your best.
RX360: What's your most memorable race so far? CM: Probably the race in Seattle last year. Because I won by seven seconds and won every single race and it was probably my best racing weekend I've ever had. It was in front of all the DirtFish fans and employees. RX360: What are your chances of winning the championship? CM: The season is going good. We've been a lot more consistent than last year. We are in second and in order to have a chance at winning the championship we have to win every single round, and Cyril has to finish out of the top three at least once. Learn more about Conner at: connermartell.com
All photos provided by Red Bull Media Pool; photographer, Larry Chen