IMSA Spotlight: Justin Marks
Driver: Turner Motorsport No. 96 BMW M6 GT3
Was the podium result at Watkins Glen on par with your expectations coming into the weekend?
“I think it was. The team was very strong last year and I think we were in a BoP position to fight. Honestly, at the end of the day, I think we got everything we could have gotten out of the M6.
“I told my crew chief after my stint that I didn’t have any real feedback for what could make the car better, only that we were just getting beat by cars that were in a more competitive BoP position.
“This class is just so tough and competitive that I knew we had to hit our strategy perfectly, have strong on-track stints and good pit stops to get on the podium, and we did that.”
How long does it take you to get acclimated to sports car racing once again after several months away?
“I actually had this brief conversation with Michael Shank at the podium. I told him that being away makes it hard to hit the ground running in the first practice session. It literally takes me all weekend to hit stride and I only found mine in the race really.
“Qualifying was good for me but I only felt like I started driving well in the race. I was able to stay with the leaders and in the top-5 and it was the first time all weekend I had that pace.”
You’ve been involved in a wide variety of racing disciplines, from sports cars to NASCAR to sprint car racing in both ownership and driving roles. When and where did your passion for motorsports develop?
“Believe it or not, my first dose of motorsports came when my grandfather took me to dirt races in Iowa and Illinois when I was very young. I was mesmerized by the noise, the color, and the excitement and these drivers were heroes to me.
“I didn’t start driving until I was 18 years old but as a young boy, watching 410 sprint cars wide open around Knoxville Raceway made me realize racing would be central in my life.”
How different is driving Watkins Glen in a BMW M6 GT3 from driving the track in a stock car?
“There’s almost no comparison. Stock cars do almost nothing well on a road course; they’re not designed for it. So you just manage tires all race long because they’re heavy and have tons of horsepower but not the tire dimensions to support it.
“The BMW, and really any GT3 car for that matter, is just so impressive in performance that you can really push hard and drive aggressively and with urgency. NASCAR is an exercise in patience. Sports cars invite courage and aggression, but of course in a measured way.”
What are your racing plans for the rest of the season?
“I’ll be back with Turner Motorsport at Petit Le Mans in October and will be driving both Mid-Ohio and Road America in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year with a team we’re announcing soon.”