View Full Version : Behind the Wheel with Martin Pond Powered by Optima Batteries

07-23-2015, 09:27 PM
Martin Pond’s Zephyr, Far from a Gentle Mild Breeze
By Brandy Phillips
Photos Courtesy of Martin Pond & Brandy Phillips
July 23, 2015


Flashback to 1980 cruising down the interstate in a Mercury Zephyr station wagon. Two children in the back with the wife
comfortably sitting passenger as her husband pilots the car to their final destination. A picture perfect Mercury
advertisement portraying the ideal family vehicle.


What about a Ford Fairmont? Specifically a two door silver Fairmont. What comes to mind? How about a competitive, fully
functional, well handling pro-touring machine? That can’t be possible.


The pro-touring community is filled with all sorts of makes and models with various degrees of upgrades, styles and colors.
Just when you think that you’ve seen it all, someone always defies that perception. This is where the name Martin Pond
becomes the focus of our attention.


Want to build a pro-touring car that stands out among the rest? Just ask Martin Pond what inspired him to build a Ford
Fairmont and then a Mercury Zephyr station wagon; both that handle better than most pro-touring cars on the race circuit.


As the owner and operator of an automotive repair business called Tidewater Tire and Auto, Martin has seen his fair share
of eccentric cars. Now to say that a Ford Fairmont or a Mercury Zephyr is eccentric might be a stretch, but in the
pro-touring world they are very unique.


When Martin made his first major appearance at the 2014 Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car Laguna Seca event,
both him and his Ford Fairmont made quite a statement.


Winning the K&N Spirit of the event award while competing at Laguna Seca, Martin and the Fairmont were given the
opportunity to compete at Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car Invitational at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Martin
placed mid-pack in Vegas. Though this might have been discouraging to many racers, Martin was thrilled he was part of
the 100 vehicles chosen to compete.


Just when we thought we had seen it all, Martin Pond decided to make a daily driver 1980 Mercury Zephyr station wagon
into a pro-touring beast. Yes folks we said a station wagon.


There have been far and few that have built pro-touring station wagons over the years that handle exceptionally well. Yet
a handful have proven that with significant upgrades a station wagon can do just about anything most Camaros and
Mustangs can do out on track.


At first glance you wouldn’t think anything of the station wagon. Without knowing Martin or any of his sponsors, one might
quickly glance at the car, chuckle and keep walking. Once Martin laid his first lap down at the Goodguys Autocross back in
March of this year, people flocked to see what Martin had in the pro-touring wagon.


The Zephyr has done surprisingly well during the beginning of the 2015 race season. Martin came close to winning the
Street Machine Class at the Goodguys Pleasanton Autocross early in the year. The car has traveled quite a bit attending
several Goodguys Autocross events, Optima’s Thunder Hill, Las Vegas and Michigan event, in addition to the Charlotte
event taking place this weekend.


So what inspires someone to build a car that is not very common in the pro-touring community and race it on an
autocross or track? Martin started racing back in 1995 at the Nor-Cal Shelby club open track events. His introduction into
the pro-touring community began with a 1971 Ford Torino GT. The Torino was Martin’s first car to be featured in a
magazine (Popular Hot Rodding) back in 2006.


Since then Martin has also been featured in the 2013 Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords magazine with his 1980 Ford


So who does Martin attribute some of his fame and success to? There are a handful of people on the west coast that have
raced muscle cars before pro-touring became popular. These drivers were taking old cars and beating some of the toughest
competition at their local SCCA events. Many of us know these drivers and those who live on the west coast might have
been lucky enough to interact with these people, get some driving tips or even have them as instructors.

When asked whom Martin would like to acknowledge or thank he mentioned one of these drivers we speak so highly of
within our community. “ Funny story, I was participating at an American Auto-X event at the Alameda Naval Air Station.
It was my first autocross and I was thinking this is the worst thing I have ever done with my car, I don’t think I will do
this again and then Mary Pozzi handed me my time slip and said ‘you need to bring this car to the Goodguys autocross.’
I had not heard of this, so I went and as they say ‘The Rest Was History.’ I have been hooked ever since. The crowds
that surround that event make it one of the most fun to do. So I blame this on Mary Pozzi!!!” (Martin Pond).


Martin has done quite a few Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car events since competing at OUSCI last year. We
wanted to know what he enjoyed about these events and why he keeps coming back:

“First and most important, the people. I have made so many new friends and they are from all around the country. This
has got to be one of the best groups of people. Rarely is there any ‘I’m better than you’ attitude; mostly people helping
each other and having a great time at the track. Jimi Day and his crew have set a standard for others to follow in running
a clean, safe and fun track event and the list of tracks we get to visit is impressive. As I am writing this I’m just back from
Michigan and getting ready to go to Charlotte. Never did I think I would be able to travel around the country and participate
in track events like these. The TV exposure makes for more fun plus the ability to advertise for sponsors, who with their
help, have made this possible for me.” (Martin)


Martin’s participation in so many Optima events has increased his overall points total helping him earn a chance to
compete once again at OUSCI this November. Knowing there’s a good chance Martin and the Zephyr will compete at
OUSCI we wanted to know what he was doing to prepare and what his goals were going into the big event.

“Last year I got the K&N Sprit of the Event award to go to SEMA and OUSCI. That was one of the best years in my life.
Having been to OUSCI with my Silver Fairmont, I knew that going again with the same car would be difficult so I finished
what was supposed to be my daily driver, a Mercury Zephyr wagon. I took this car to a couple of Shelby club open tracks
and found it handled really well and thought this could do it. So this year I’m driving the wagon and accumulating points
in hopes of a strong finish to get another invite to the OUSCI.” (Martin)


So as we reflect on Martin’s past within the pro-touring community and jump forward to his future plans, it’s hard to not
notice Martin and his passion for eccentric pro-touring vehicles. Someone that chooses to be different usually sets a bar,
even if they do not know it at that time. Martin has definitely set a bar for any other Ford (and quite possibly any other
pro-touring vehicle). You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or you might have a surprise in your rear view mirror.


1980 Mercury Zephyr Station Wagon
Owner: Martin Pond

Engine: 408 windsor with Scat rotating assembly, AFR 205 heads, Comp hydraulic roller cam ,Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake
Holley 750 hp carb, BBK long tubes MSD distributor, and of course K&N air filters

Horsepower / Torque: 500+/_

Transmission: Legend LGT700 5spd.

Clutch: Center Force dual friction

Exhaust: BBK X pipe with factory 2004 Mustang cobra mufflers and tail pipes

Differential: 2004 Mustang Cobra IRS with 3.55:1

Brakes: Cobra 13” front and Cobra 12” rear

Wheels: ESR 18x9.5

Tires: Falken Azenis 275/35x18

Body & Paint: Mostly stock, pushed the fender lips out to accommodate the 275s and stock paint from 1980

Interior: Mustang gauge panel Corbeau seats and custom door panels and a rare Fairmont console

Any other modifications/ things you would like us to know: The car has a hybrid suspension consisting of a
Mustang SVO front subframe with sn95 control arms and Bilstein coilovers. A 2004 cobra rack & pinion. In the rear
Cobra IRS with everything Maximum Motorsports has to offer. A special thank you to all my sponsors. Perforce software,
Legend transmission, Maximum Motorsports, Alameda Collision Repair, Bay Bolt, Ethan’s Service Plumbing, Reliable
Roofing, and countless friends and customers who have donated to help me travel around the country.







07-24-2015, 07:19 AM
great story...great guy

07-24-2015, 01:06 PM
Great story. As the other "Guy With The Fairmont", I hope to be on-track with him some day.


07-24-2015, 06:58 PM
I remember that day, Martin. And I'll gladly take the blame for getting you hooked too. Great story and wonderful car.

Mary P.

07-25-2015, 11:05 AM
Very cool story! I did a NorCal Shelby Club track day at Laguna Seca last year, and Martin was one of I think three guys in the pits at one point who'd experienced major engine issues that day (two guys broke crank shafts), after very little time running. I had some issues of my own, too (alternator literally exploded, sending shrapnel into my upper radiator hose). Martin was completely cool, still having a good time hanging out. Guys like Martin prove that regardless of what happens, if you get to be out there doing exactly what you want to do (if only for a little while), it can't be that bad . . .

07-30-2015, 01:38 PM
Well I'll tell ya, the 'ol #2 wagon is a LOT faster than it looks! Cool story.

07-30-2015, 07:46 PM
Well I'll tell ya, the 'ol #2 wagon is a LOT faster than it looks! Cool story.

It's faster than I thought as well.

07-31-2015, 05:45 AM
I met Martin this past weekend at Charlotte.

Very nice guy, will talk it up with anyone!!

Best part about this whole deal it that he like to laugh about this **** brown car he calls #2....LOL!!