The Racing Capital
of the World
June 22, 2012 | By Jan Shaffer
The story went around in NASCAR garages everywhere at the time.
NASCAR driver Coo Coo Marlin, his wife, Eula Faye, and their son Sterling were sitting at the dinner table one night. Coo Coo, rapid fire, said “pass-the-potatoes-please-Sterling’s-going-to-run-Talladega.”
Thus began the career of Sterling Marlin, a second-generation driver who carved his way after his father, one of NASCAR’s top independents, as they were called at the time, was winding up a distinguished career of his own.
When Sterling Marlin retired in ‘08 from the NASCAR Cup wars, he had made 748 starts with 216 top-10 finishes, 10 wins and 11 poles. He won the Daytona 500 back-to-back in 1994-95, and no one has repeated that feat. He won three straight poles at Daytona between the track’s two Cup races.
And he made his mark at the Brickyard 400. He started third in 1995 and finished second to Jeff Gordon in 2001 among 13 starts at the Speedway. He was one of the first NASCAR drivers to call the Speedway front stretch “the tunnel” because NASCAR drivers weren’t used to running with grandstands on both sides of the track.
Marlin’s Cup career is over. But he’s not quite “retired.”
At Nashville Superspeedway, the track where he and his father first started their careers, he still takes the flag once in a while.
“Just to have fun,” said Marlin, 55. “We won three out of six last year, and we’re running seven races this year.”
Today, Marlin lives on an 800-acre ranch near his hometown of Spring Hill, Tenn., and has a driver development program for those on their way up.
“I don’t have much time to do anything else,” he said.
Marlin’s son, Steadman, ran 28 Nationwide races and a few in the Camping World Truck Series. But he is not driving this year.
“It costs a lot of money to run a full season,” Sterling said. “Steadman’s 31. It’s the 15-16-17-year-olds who are going to be the next group.”
But there on his website (www.sterlingmarlinracing.com) is a picture of Sterling with his Nashville late model. And it’s put to good use.