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Don’t play the bass notes on the piano for Little Chrissy
I’m one of those who measures wealth not by how much money, property, or toys he has but how many actual true friends. I value friends and true friendship, above almost anything else in life. So when I know I’m going to lose one of those friends I get, moody, depressed and angry. I am, moody, depressed, and angry today, and I expect the malaise will hang around for a while, because I know that one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life, Chris Martin, is dying. He is in a hospice, and they don’t put a person in a hospice unless it’s sure that his time is limited.
I have always found it strange that as a society we tend to wait until someone is dead before we tell them how much we love and respect them, and how much we will miss them. Instead someone who may or may not have known them gets up at funeral services and praises your friend and what he meant to you but the poor bastard is dead and can’t hear a word. (At least, we don’t think so.)
So I’m taking this time and space to share my thoughts about my friend Chris Martin with you before he dies because I may not be able to write this afterward.
He is one of just a few who can be considered a true drag racing historian. He has a near photographic memory of the sport that goes back 50 years. He is also one of the best reporters the business has ever seen and certainly one of its best-ever writers.
I see Chris Martin’s influence in the writing style of Cole Coonce, Bret Kepner, Ro McGonegal, and myself. Each of us has developed our own style to be sure, but I see his caustic irreverence in all of our works. He remains to this day the only writer that has ever worked for me that wrote a satire piece that so infuriated the target of his satire that they had the Pomona Police call his editor (me) to ask if I could control him. I couldn’t, wouldn’t and didn’t. My friends, as an editor you don’t screw with true greatness.
How great a writer is Chris Martin? Well, we can all write race reports and features, but Martin is the only one of my peers that in the 50+ year history of Hot Rod Magazine had a lengthy poem published in it. Ro McGonegal, back when he was the HRM editor, ran the poem along with my photos. (It probably contributed to him getting canned.)
Working with Little Chrissy or C. Bley Martin-a-go-go (as he often refers to himself), is often a dicey, always entertaining endeavor, and never, never boring. Just ask his long suffering editors at National Dragster, especially Phil Burgess, whom he worked for the longest.