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Mark Wyman - Carrying On the Family Legacy

Mark Wyman

Mark's father Jim, pictured here in 1965, was a multiple time champion during his early career in the 50's through the 70's.

Jordan poses with the Sunset Demo car prior to battle in 1988

Mark drove a Camaro in the Bronco class his first year in 1989

Mark's first Late Model in 1990 alongside brother Jerry's Street Stock

Mark with his crew in 1992
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Mark received the 1994 Best Appearing Late Model Award at Sunset
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Jerry's 1994 Late Model

Jim in 1996 after his more than 20-year break from racing

Mark grabs a 1996 Crawford County Feature win

Mark teamed with Jon Schwartz in 1997 to travel and race this pair of Modifieds

Mark's brother Lee totaled this Modified at Adams County Speedway in 1997

Jim survived a terrible 1997 Crawford County Speedway accident, completely destroying his Late Model and forcing him back into retirement

Mark with the 2000 Late Model

Mark with the 2000 Modified

Wide open down the Sunset Speedway frontstretch in 2000

Another 2000 Adams County victory
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Mark and the rest of the NASCAR Exide ShorTrack Regional Champions at the 2000 NASCAR Awards Banquet
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The remains of Mark's car after the 2002 Nebraska Raceway Park crash
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Fortunately Mark's condition was much better than the car's
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Mark and Rita celebrate Mark's 5th place regional finish at the 2002 NASCAR Awards Banquet

Mark and Rita celebrate victory at Adams County Speedway on opening night 2003 along with good friend and Trophy Girl, Bailey Heaton
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Mark three-wheeling at Nebraska Raceway Park in 2003
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A white car with green numbers. The blue oval emblem on the hood. Regular visits to victory lane. These are but a few of the traits associated with the racing Wymans that the local racing fans have witnessed over the past five decades. Our Dirt Driver Spotlight focuses on the man now leading his long family racing heritage through the 21st century.

Mark Wyman, the third in a family of six brothers, was born on Halloween Day, 1960 in Fremont, Nebraska to Jim and Shirley Wyman. He grew up south of Fremont until the age of ten. Mark spent many weekends and holidays during his childhood at the local racetracks watching his dad wheel the #14 Late Model on the dirt. "Gentleman Jim," as he was known in those days, started racing stock cars in the late 50's and battled weekly against drivers such as Bob Kosiski, Dave Chase, Bill Martin, Glenn Robey, Jack Golder, and Keith Leithoff. Jim was among the best in the business, winning numerous A Features, including a streak of 11 in a row, as well as several Track Championships during his career. He piloted Fords while many of the other top racers drove Chevrolets. "I grew up with a big Ford versus Chevy, Wyman versus Kosiski rivalry," Mark says. "It still remains that way today!" Although the racing was fierce on the track, the camaraderie between the racers was close in the pits with each of them willing to help the others out when needed. "One of my favorite 'old days' memories is when my dad's car broke one Sunday night at Sunset, and Bill Martin let him drive his Chevelle," Mark remembers.

The Wyman family moved to Oakland, Iowa in 1970 when Jim, who was previously a carpenter, made a career change and became a car salesman. Jim sold Fords for two years at Baller's Ford Center and also raced for the company owner during that period. "I spent a lot of time traveling with Dad to Sunset Speedway, Shelby County Speedway, Adams County Speedway, and Nebraska City to race during those two years," Mark says.

In 1972 Jim decided that he would like to own his own dealership, so the family packed up and moved again, this time to Griswold, Iowa to open Wyman's Ford. The hard work of operating a business necessitated taking a break from racing for a while, so Jim hung up the helmet in 1973. Unfortunately for all of the Wyman fans, they had to do without seeing their favorite racing family at the track for over a decade and a half.

During this time, Mark acquired many other interests outside of racing. He was active in many sports during his high school years, such as football, wrestling, and track. He graduated at Griswold Community School District in 1979 and then followed his father's original trade of carpentry. He spent a few years working in remodeling carpentry, and then became employed by Larson Custom Kitchens in 1982 where he would spend the next 13 years building cabinets. He also became a proud father during his first marriage with the birth of his son Jordan in 1985 and during his second marriage with the birth of his daughter Shelbie in 1992. In 1995, Mark advanced his career and went to work for Eurowood Cabinets in Omaha.

Mark didn't stay totally away from the motorsports scene during this time, however. Starting in 1980, he began competing in Demolition Derbies. Through 1987 he competed mainly at the Southwest Iowa County Fairs, and was regularly among the top few finishers. He pulled off an impressive streak in his final year in 1988. Using a car he purchased for $500, he entered all three Demolition Derbies held at Sunset Speedway that season. Amazingly he won all three events with the same car and pocketed $1200! But after being around the stock cars at Sunset that season, the lure of turning circles around the track was too strong to keep Mark satisfied with only running the Demo cars. So the next year he purchased a used Camaro from Don Doebelin and started his Rookie season in the Bronco class at Sunset and Adams County Speedway in 1989, much to the delight of the fans who had witnessed his father turn laps around those tracks so many years prior. Mark's first choice for a number was 41, the digits reversed from his father's #14. But 41 was already taken by Jack and Terry Golder. So he decided on #42. Mark experienced almost immediate success, running well at Sunset and winning two A Features at Adams County on his way to the Rookie of the Year title and a solid 5th place in points. Mark wasted no time climbing up the racing ladder. The following year, he purchased a two-year old Joe Kosiski Rayburn and joined the Late Model class, winning Rookie of the Year titles at both Sunset and Adams County. During the next few years, Mark made steady progress on the track, adding several wins to his resume. He also remained a fan favorite, bringing home the Best Appearing Car Award from Sunset in 1994.

Mark's emergence into the racing scene brought the whole Wyman family back into racing again. Mark's brother Jerry raced street stocks from 1989 through 1991 before jumping up to a Late Model in 1992 and driving until 1995. "Dad even came out of retirement in 1994 to run Late Models again," says Mark. Jim once again piloted the white and green colors that he had made so famous in the past. Only this time he ran under a new number, 59. "59 was Dad's age when he started racing again," Mark explains. Another brother, Lee also started driving in 1995. The oldest brother, Jim Jr. became involved on the mechanical side of the sport, building cars and motors. "Team racing was a lot of hard work," Mark admits. "At one time we had four of us racing out of one shop, located at my brother Jim's home."

Mark switched to a GRT chassis in 1996 and the move proved to be beneficial, as he experienced his most successful Late Model season. He won 11 A Features racing at Crawford County, Adams County, and Sunset. He brought home the Track Championship at Crawford County and finished 5th in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Midwest Region. And to cap it all off he was voted Most Popular Driver by the Sunset fans.

The following season was a rough one for the Wymans, however. Lee totaled his Modified at Adams County Speedway and then only six days later, Jim totaled his Late Model at Crawford County Speedway in a horrendous A Feature crash. Mark was behind Jim on the track and witnessed first hand as his father barrel rolled eight times, then went over the concrete wall, into the catch fence, and back out onto the track. The car was completely destroyed. Jim cracked a rib and was bruised and beaten, but fortunately received no serious injuries. Mark had to think twice about continuing the race after the track was cleaned up. "Believe me, that was hard to get back in the car when you see your dad total his car right in front of you," Mark admits. The family unanimously decided that Jim was now retired for good. And Lee soon after hung up his helmet as well. This left Mark as the only Wyman still driving at the time.

And Mark wasn't about to back off. In fact, he added Modified racing into his already busy Late Model schedule. He teamed up with Jon Schwartz to do some traveling and drive Jon's Modified in 1997. In 1998, Mark's brother Jim built a Modified that Mark drove. Mark also served as a mentor for Jim's 15-year-old son J.C. "J.C. had to do all the maintenance on the Modified to earn his ride in it the next year when he turned 16," Mark explains. In 1999, Mark purchased his own K-Mod Modified, with which he won the most features, six, at Adams County Speedway, on his way to winning another Track Championship. 1999 was the year he also earned his best career finish in the NASCAR All-Star Late Model Series with a 5th place at Hartland Park in Topeka, Kansas.

The success Mark experienced in the 2000 season ranked right up there with his 1996 season. He had some good runs in his Late Model at Sunset, but his largest accomplishments took place at Adams County Speedway. He won twice in his Late Model, finishing runner-up in points for the season. And he took the Modified class by storm, winning seven features and claiming the Track Championship, accumulating enough points along the way to earn his highest career prize to date - the NASCAR Exide ShorTrack Series Midwest Regional Championship. He had the privilege of accepting this award at the prestigious NASCAR ShorTrack Series Awards Banquet in Orlando, Florida that fall. Family and crewmembers were able to make the trip with him. "The banquet was impressive!" Mark smiles. "They treated us to golf, shirts, hotel accommodations, dinner, and a night at Universal Studios' NASCAR Café. It was great!"

The 2001 and 2002 seasons were mixed with bittersweet results. In an early World Dirt Racing League Late Model race in 2001 at Crawford County Speedway, Mark totaled his car. He planned on sitting the rest of the season out after that. Good friend and fellow competitor, Leon Zeitner, would have none of that, and made his spare chassis available for Mark to finish the season with. "The only problem with the chassis was that it was orange," Mark laughs. "We always said that orange cars are slow cars!" The results proved Mark wrong, however, as he was able to turn his bad luck around and finish 2nd at Adams County and 3rd at Nebraska Raceway Park in the final season points. And to cap off the season, he backed up his previous year's effort at Adams County by capturing his second consecutive Modified Track Championship.

The 2002 season was eerily similar to 2001. In the early laps of an A Feature at Nebraska Raceway Park, Mark's car caught the backstretch guardrail, sending his car out of control across the track, ending up in one of the most spectacular accidents in the track's history, with most of the field being involved. Mark's car was repeatedly struck from all angles by several cars at full speed. Amazingly Mark walked away without injury. The same could not be said for his car, which was ripped in half and completely destroyed, leaving Mark without a ride or a plan once again. Then just as with the year before, Leon Zeitner stepped up again, and offered Mark his new spare chassis. "I can't thank Leon enough for coming through for me again," Mark states. "I also owe a special thanks to J.D. Wyman Motorsports for putting the deal together for me." By the following Thursday night, the new car was ready to go for the next race. Mark proved once again that adversity only makes him run stronger, as he pulled off the Track Championship at Adams County Speedway with the new car. He also finished 3rd at Nebraska Raceway Park, 5th in the NASCAR Midwest Region, and 3rd in Modified points at Adams County Speedway. Mark was also granted the Nebraska Raceway Park Hard Luck Award for the season, and the fans indicated they didn't mind orange one bit, as they once again voted his car the Best Appearing Late Model.

There were also some trying times off the track for Mark during this time period. His second marriage ended in divorce in 2001. And the whole Wyman family suffered a dear loss, as Mark's mother passed away in October of that same year. The Wyman racecars now carry the message "In Memory of Shirley Wyman" on their panels as a special tribute to her and her dedication to the sport that has been such a part of the Wyman family for so long.

Mark appreciates the sponsors that have helped him achieve his success. They are Zikas - Peachtree Windows and Doors, Wyman's Ford, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, J.D. Wyman Motorsports, 42 Bodies, Crane Distributing, Eurowood Cabinets, Steve's Lawn Care, Charley's Speed & Machine, and Kosiski Racing Products. The crew consists of Jim & Glenda Wyman, Tom Bailey, J.C. Wyman, Jared Wyman, Jack Wood, and Ken Crane. Mark also appreciates the help he has received from the other racers during his career. "It's neat that I race against many of the same drivers, and now their kids, that my dad raced against back when I was growing up," Mark says. "The Kosiskis and Bill Martin are some of the greatest mentors out there. If I have racing questions or just want to chat, these guys are always there for me!" Mark is also thankful for all of the Wyman family members who have been so involved in racing through the years. "My parents, after retiring, spent most of their summers in Minnesota, but still made it to the races whenever possible," Mark explains. Mark's girlfriend, Rita Prescott, can usually always be found in Mark's pit, and even gets involved as a crewmember. "She is good at grooving tires when we have gone to the World Dirt Racing League races," Mark says. The rest of the Wyman family can usually be seen at the tracks each weekend as well.

Most of Mark's spare time is spent on some area of his racing program. "Racing is a full-time job," he admits. "I have to spend time in Griswold working on the car during the racing season, and during the off season I operate my 42 Bodies business, building and selling race car bodies to help support my racing habit." But whenever possible, he enjoys spending time away from the track with Rita and his kids. One of his roles, that not many racing fans are aware of, is that of being a part time soccer coach for his daughter Shelbie. Mark enjoys all types of movies and usually has his shop TV tuned in to HBO while he is working on his racecars. Mark has a difficult time narrowing down his favorite types of food, but admits to having a sweet tooth and loves desserts of any kind.

Mark's plans for 2003 are clear. "I sold all of my Modified parts and am concentrating on the Late Model weekly racing," Mark explains. "My goal is to win Track Championships at both Nebraska Raceway Park and Adams County Speedway."

Gentleman Jim has left the racing Wyman tradition in good hands. With the momentum Mark is carrying into this season, the promising future of his nephew J.C., and the possibility of his own children one day driving, it is likely the fans will regularly witness those white and green cars with the blue ovals on their hoods for at least another five decades.

Written By Dustin Yurize

January 4, 2001
Updated May 29, 2003

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