It’s rare to see a motorsports story on the History Channel. However, like most things, there are always exceptions. Mazda MX-5 Cup racer Dan Martinson is a prime example.
Martinson was recently featured on the new HISTORY® series, “Million Dollar Genius,” for his off-track business exploits. The show focuses on incredible true stories of ordinary people who started with an idea, and through hard work and perseverance, transformed their whims into wildly successful products. The “All Tied Up” episode tells the story of how Martinson invented the “Gear Tie” reusable rubber twist tie and brought it to market.
Dan Martinson grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1992. Three years later, Martinson started his first plastics and rubber manufacturing business, LTI Flexible Products. After ten years of building the business into a leader in the rubber and plastics industry, he sold the business and started working on his invention that eventually became the “Gear Tie.”
Martinson’s success and hard work off the track allowed him to pursue his interest in racing. Driving a Noble M400 at Brainerd International Raceway with some friends jump started his foray into motorsports. The local driving instructor happened to see Martinson enter turn one at 150-mph during one of the sessions. He strongly suggested that he look into a racing school where he could learn how to safely drive a proper race car. Shortly after, Martinson and his friends signed up for a three-day Skip Barber MX-5 school at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. After finishing his license requirements in 2011, he entered his first Skip Barber MX-5 race at Autobahn Country Club with young racers like Tristan Nunez and Shelby Blackstock in the field. “Tristan lapped me after the first two laps,” chuckles Martinson as he reminisces about his first experience racing head to head with talented drivers like Nunez and Blackstock.
Since then, Martinson has raced a wide variety of cars in the Porsche Club of America, NASA, and SCCA. In 2015, he raced in six Pirelli World Challenge events with Rehagen Racing in a Ford Mustang Boss 302S in GTS Class. Season highlights were sixth place finishes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America.
For 2016, Martinson is joining the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires with Atlanta Motorsports Group. When asked why he chose MX-5 Cup and the Atlanta Motorsports Group, Martinson, without hesitation, answered: “I chose MX-5 Cup after reading about the amount of development that Mazda had put into the new Global car. I was looking to get into a spec series where there would be large competitive run groups and no ‘balance of power’ issues.” Another deciding factor was the advice he received from former MX-5 Champion Michael Cooper. “Michael and I became friends after racing against each other in the Pirelli World Challenge. He had great things to say about the series and the guys at Atlanta Motorsports Group.”