Marty Roth seemingly has it all: a loving and supporting family, a clean bill of health, and a background in business that has him set financially. If you think all of that stops him from the passion that drives him the most, you're wrong.
"We'd like to run Michigan this year," said Roth, a native of Toronto, Ontario. "Depending on sponsors and how (our car) turns out, hopefully we'll be here at the end of July."
Here is Michigan International Speedway, and the end of July that Roth speaks about ambitiously will mark the coming of the IRL IndyCar® Series Firestone Indy 400 to the two-mile oval. Though he has not yet made a start this season in the IndyCar Series, Roth hopes to make July the month he breaks onto the scene and delivers on his promise to make his self-owned team, Roth Racing, competitive in the IndyCar Series.
Roth and his crew were at MIS on June 28 to test his No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone in hopes of making it into the field at Michigan for the Firestone Indy 400 on July 30. While a younger driver might aim for speed, speed, and more speed on the wide-open Michigan oval, the 47-year-old Roth understands a larger requirement to be successful.
"Right now, we've been developing this car and trying to make it consistent. That's what our main objective is right now. We're not after top speeds. Michigan's a long, long race, and that's how we're treating this test. We want something that'll be there for the end," said Roth.
"We're happy. The car's really consistent and good. It's not doing anything weird on me. From Indy, that's the changes that we've made. They all seem to be in the right direction. We were focusing on getting a car that was a lot more consistent and wouldn't move around as much. We were battling that all of the month of May. As of right now, we seem to have fixed it. It's feeling pretty good out there."
Roth struggled at Indianapolis in May, as he failed to make the Indy 500 field after qualifying in 2004 and 2005. Though he has yet to take a green flag since not making the Brickyard's field of 33 this spring, he remains focused on success through 2006 and into following seasons.
"Well, I missed the 90th running of (the Indianapolis 500)," said Roth. "When I got back home and read who's been out of it, I realized I'm in pretty good company. I hope to be there for next year. It's definitely one of the main reasons I run the IRL series, because there's nothing like the Indy 500. You're just a real part of history when you run the 500."
Despite enjoying less success than many of his competitors in the IndyCar Series, Roth is not deterred in his hopes for racing prominence. Having already accomplished several lifelong dreams by starting in the Indianapolis 500 twice and moving up from the Indy Pro Series to the IndyCar Series, Roth knows that there is more to achieve.
"I love racing. I've loved racing my whole life. We're developing a company, a racing team, a marketing company, and we're looking for sponsors. Being from Canada, it's a smaller market," said Roth. "IRL is the series that I love to run, because of races like Michigan and Indianapolis, and unfortunately, we don't run any IRL races in Canada. Right now, my focus is on building Roth Racing and making it a strong team that can compete in the IndyCar Series."
A long absence from racing could have kept the veteran Roth at bay, but he fails to let such a long time away keep him from the garage. Roth left racing competition after the 1990 season and did not return until he entered the 2002 Indy Pro Series and earned a 10th place points finish.
"I started out racing motorcycles, and then I got into car racing. I was trying to make my way up to the Indy series. My company business is land development and real estate, and we ran into some hard times in the '90s, as did every development company in North America. It was time to knuckle down and save the business. Sometimes you've got to go away so you
can live to fight the next day. When I left in '90, I always knew I'd be back. I'm not a young guy, but I always anticipated coming back. I worked out, and I stayed in shape so I can go out there and play," said Roth.
Much like many of the other drivers from a diverse range of nations competing in the IndyCar Series, Roth doesn't let the international border act as a barrier to his career. Michigan, he maintains, actually feels good to him. After finishing sixth at MIS in a 2003 Pro Series race, Roth looks forward to returning to the Irish Hills.
"It's close (to being a home track)," he said. "There are a lot of Canadians that come down to watch this race, and that's why we're trying to (qualify at Michigan) for this year. It's a big race. It's 400 miles. It's a long, high-banked, very exciting race."
He may not be as familiar as the Andrettis or Danicas of the open-wheel world, but maybe the home-track advantage of MIS is what Marty Roth needs to be successful after so many years.
Tickets for all of the events during the Firestone Indy 400 weekend, along with tickets to all remaining 2006 events at Michigan International Speedway delivered by Domino's Pizza, are currently on sale at MIS's official website, www.MISpeedway.com, or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010. Tickets to all other events, which include the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, and the ARCA RE/MAX Series are also now available.