Multimatic – Putnam-Phoenix Conclusions
Gary Horrocks Asks Barry McSherry Where Things Have Got To Now

After all the coverage here of the Multimatic days at Putnam Park, Gary Horrocks spoke to Larry Holt and Barry McSherry to find out where the Canadian Daytona Prototype manufacturers – in particular Multimatic - stand now.

“The test of our Ford Focus Daytona Prototype at Putnam Park was the best thing we have done to generate interest in our car and the Rolex Series.” These are the words of Larry Holt, Vice President of Engineering for Multimatic. “This went so well for us that I think we may try another later in the summer, as the schedule permits.”

“At the test, the response was very positive from the drivers. Clint Field, Rick Sutherland, John Graham and Kurt Mathewson all got in the car and seemed to enjoy the time. I really think it was positive for the series, dispelling some of the negative perceptions about the cars not being exciting to drive or not being fast enough.”

dailysportscar.comWhile the Multimatic team did not race at Phoenix last weekend, Barry McSherry (on the right in the photograph), Project Manager of the Daytona Prototype, was present for the latest Summit meeting. Besides Roger Edmondson and Mark Raffauf, Jim France was also in situ, and he again hammered home the Grand Am philosophy the they are here for the long haul and that they will be staying at the same venues and not cancelling races. “Really, even though we did not race, it has been a very up beat time for us,” said Barry McSherry. “We had coverage of our test on the Speed Channel broadcast of the Phoenix race, including comments from Jim France. Tim Evans of Autoweek drove our car, and was very enthusiastic about it. He was there for a write-up due in a special Ford Centennial Collectors issue of Autoweek. Just after the test, we took the car to California for a photo shoot that will be featured in a future issue of Racer Magazine. Yes, we do want to be racing, but we are constructors first. We will be back on the race track as soon as the proper sponsorship is found.”

dailysportscar.comWhen asked about stories concerning a Porsche powered chassis, Barry replied, “I hadn’t heard that one, where did you get that info? What we have is a turn-key package, and the package includes the Robert Yates developed Ford Racing V-8. They are doing a great job with the motor and there is no reason to go in another direction. I find it amusing, all of the so-called experts out there on the web forums. I remember some so-called experts commenting about the aero package on our Focus. I’d rather trust the wind tunnel than the forum experts.”

Barry worked in the CART Series with PPI, and has seen the difficult circumstances that arose not just between CART and the IRL, but also between the fans. “I was able to see what CART was doing well, and what they were doing badly, and the same with the IRL. I feel that the situation is similar now between the Grand Am and IMSA. As I was in charge of the MBD Mugen / Panoz last year, I am familiar with what is happening on both sides. Typically, it is the fans that make a big deal out of the differences. I really see where both of these can stand alone, as they really are two distinct series. IMSA does a good job with what they are geared towards. They are the high technology series with factory-backed cars. Grand Am has taken a different approach, more aimed at the traditional roots of the privateers. By incorporating cost constraints, they have catered themselves to the privateer efforts, allowing the less “well funded” teams an opportunity to be successful. Given the economic climate that we are currently in, I believe the Daytona Prototypes are the way to go for privateers.

“Don’t get me wrong though. I think cars such as the Lola MG are beautiful racecars. They are well made, but they do require significant engineering effort to run to their potential. And what do you have in a few years, after the rules change; a car that isn’t really worth much. Racing is not an inexpensive sport, but comparing a racing budget between the two series, I think a Daytona Prototype can be run for about a third of the cost of an IMSA Prototype. And after a few seasons, you still have a car that is worth something due to the stability of the Grand Am rules package. At $425,000, ready to go, I really feel that our Focus is a good value. With the engine rules such as they are, our Ford engine will last three races, and with the lower maintenance requirements, a small team can run this car affordably.”

dailysportscar.comWhile the lack of sales is not good news, Multimatic is in it for the long haul. “Yes, it would be nice to have recovered our investment in the development of the car already, but we realize that we need to be patient. I think we can sell a couple cars this year and then build on that. I think a few more cars will join in this year, and by the Rolex 24 next season, I really expect that we will see 10 – 12 cars in the class. And from the race that we saw at Phoenix, that could be interesting.”


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