Ken May’s “Informal Discussions At Putnam Park”
Clint Field (Tries The Multimatic)

The funniest part of all this output from Ken May is that the man has realized how tough it is to be at an event, gather all the information…and then spend hours typing it up, matching photographs, re-checking for errors and so on. Welcome to stress Ken!
He follows up yesterday’s overview of testing at Putnam Park with a thoroughly enjoyable interview with Clint Field. Clint is not one to be caught out by our rookie….

As the teams break for lunch, after a hard and very productive morning of testing, I slipped back to my SUV for a quick bite of my bologna sandwich…I didn’t want to leave the track in the chance I might miss something…..

Clint Field drives his SUV by me (I think he was over the pit speed limit) on his way to purchase some nutritional American fast food (Wendy’s), and I also notice the Multimatic camp gathering around to feast on some good ole “Kentucky Fried Chicken”. During the lull in activity, I walk up to the scoring tower and have a wonderful discussion with Larry Haltom (Track Manager) and compliment him on his fine facility. Larry invites me to climb up to the “crow’s nest” and the view of the track is spectacular! Of course, being deathly afraid of heights, the climb down on the wobbly ladder was the low point of my day!

After walking the track and heading pack to the pit area, the Judd engine in the Lola comes back to life and Rick Sutherland is behind the wheel for another practice session. The Lola tears out of the pits and Clint heads over to the Multimatic area and begins to prepare for a stint in the Multimatic – the same car that took the pole and won its class at Daytona!

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I position myself on the track for pictures and hope that I can capture both cars at speed together on the front straightaway. Clint finishes his stint and is all smiles………..but he walks quickly back to his pit area to see how the testing is progressing with Rick Sutherland.

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As I head to the tower to take some more pictures, Clint walks up and asks if this would be a good time for our Q/A…….Here he is, working hard to assist his team in preparing Rick for Le Mans, but yet finds time to meet with me….truly classy. Clint suggests that we sit in his SUV, as the Multimatic is about to take the track again………the sound of both cars continues to ring through the entire countryside, but it is easy to differentiate the sounds of each car….they are both distinctive and wonderful sounding in their own way.

As we get into his SUV and I fumble through my backpack to get my pre-written questions out, I noticed one thing which I have in common with at least this one ALMS driver……his SUV, like mine, has a nice cracked windshield, across the bottom! Must be those darn back roads of Indiana, and I wonder if his car would pass “tech”…..

I explain to Clint that I had some questions I would like to ask as I was trying my hand in “reporting” for the first time for dailysportscar…..I asked him if he ever logs on to the site and received a huge laugh and a response of “Of course…Every day Ken….all of us do!” Feeling like I couldn’t have started the Q/A off any worse - or nothing else that Clint could say would make me feel lower - he adds with a smile, “Didn’t you notice the DSC stickers on the car?”

OK, so I have quick decision to make, do I claim that I am ill and cannot conduct this Q/A and run like hell out of the car and hope he forgets my name, or do I carry on realizing that there is no way I could further damage what little credibility I have left…. I open my notepad, drop my pen, look for it under the seat, find it, and proceed to start what was the most enjoyable conversation, with a young man who carries himself far beyond his age…………..

KM: Clint, looks like you were having fun out there in the Lola on this short track…..what are your testing objectives here at Putnam Park?
CF: Since Rick Sutherland is one of our drivers at Le Mans, we want to give him as much seat time as possible. Not really do any testing on this car, as our Le Mans car is already heading over to France…more just to get Rick as much seat time as possible.

KM: What have you learned from the morning session?
CF: Rick is very comfortable in the car and is very quick. Again, we hope to do as many laps as possible.

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KM: Speaking of Le Mans, how are you preparing both mentally and physically for the greatest sportscar race?
CF: Well, as you know I am not driving in Le Mans….. (Damn, strike two on my skills as a reporter!) so most of my responsibility is making sure the paperwork is all correct and all the logistics of the team are taken care of.

KM: Describe your efforts / feelings about the second greatest endurance race in the world – Sebring.
CF: Obviously, not as good as we hoped, but it was a great time. Being a small team with a very limited budget and number of team members, when the upright failure took place, it took us 2.5 hours to fix and that took us out of contention. The car though ran good, and the engine was strong……

KM: How would you describe the track itself?
CF: Most difficult and demanding track! The track by far takes the most physical toll on the drivers.

KM: OK Clint, I can’t wait any longer….talk to me about the Ford Focus. I saw where you made a pass on the back straight, when you were in the Lola…..
CF: Ya, not sure who was in the car, but they waved me by…..was interesting.

KM: OK, that is fair…now wasn’t that you in the Ford Focus? What is that all about? I have a feeling that it is more than a coincidence that you and Multimatic are here at the same time….
CF: Ya, we got a call from them letting us know that they would be at the track and were wanting to know if Rick and I wanted to take the Focus out for a stint.

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KM: Well? How was it?
CF: The car is an absolute blast to drive. It is extremely driver friendly and Multimatic has done a fantastic job with the car. They have engineered one of the better cars in the prototype class.
The car has nice down force and was just fun to drive, it was just different.

dailysportscar.comKM: In what way was it different?
CF: Braking for one, and the shifting for another. Not that it is bad, just different. I really enjoyed shifting the car. The car just seems that it would be easier to get used to and is not as difficult to learn to drive like an LMP.

KM: I clocked you on your third lap with a 1: 11:39……not bad huh? I clocked Scott Maxwell at 1:09.05…Were you holding back?
CF: (Smiling) Being the car is so driver friendly, I should be able to improve my times….

KM: “Improve your times”? Why would you be interested in improving your timing? Is there an interest in running a Daytona Prototype?
CF: Sure, if everything would fall in place we would definitely look at it. I love to race and any opportunity to race is good.

dailysportscar.comKM: Are you looking at other Daytona Prototypes?
CF: (Pause) I think Multimatic has developed an excellent race car and we will have to see what happens….

KM: OK, how about the track (Putnam Park)….
CF: It is a great little track and has some very good aspects….not a stop and go set up.

KM: (Laughing) A little different then from Sebring then huh?
CF: (Laughing) A little……

KM: What are you plans for ‘04?
CF: Continue to do what we are doing……..

KM: (Interrupting) That means a full ALMS schedule right?
CF: Yes, those are the plans…..Again, we are a small team with a small budget and it takes money to race……

KM: What are your feelings about the direction of ALMS?
CF: The ALMS is a great series with wonderful exposure. The series is also very strong and IMSA wants to succeed…everyone there is working hard to put on a great show for the fans. I enjoy racing in IMSA and the tracks we race on.

KM: Speaking of tracks, what are your feelings / comments about the Mexico and Washington races being cancelled? How did that effect you as a driver?
CF: That was very, very unfortunate. We were looking forward to racing there, but………

dailysportscar.comKM: Clint, I am a fan of sportscar racing, but if I had to pick which series out of all the great series now being run, my pick is ALMS. Obviously, there are differences in the two main sportscar series here in the States, and the fans of both series defend them pretty adamantly…..do those feelings carry over to teams and drivers?
CF: Not really, both GARRA and ALMS are working hard to provide their fans with a successful series…..

KM: OK, but from a driver’s view, what are the differences? Like in 2002…
CF: Well, ALMS definitely has the factory team presence and the international flair. The cars are more expensive……..and when we race, there are more fans watching us.

KM: Does that come to mind when you are on track…the amount of fans?
CF: Yes and no….No, because once we get strapped in, it is all business on performing to the best of our abilities……Yes, as with any form of racing, without the fans, it is difficult to get the sponsors. I enjoyed racing in Grand Am and they will make it work.

KM: Clint, I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to ask these questions and I wish you, your father, and the entire team much success in ‘03 and beyond! Maybe you can stop by at PLM and say hi to the many fans that follow you…
CF: Ya, will do that as that would be cool…..I heard about what you put together at PLM last year and Sebring this year….other drivers really showed up?

KM: Yep, drivers, team members, lots of fans, and of course, the guys from DSC! The rain at Sebring sure put a damper though on Friday night…..show up though at PLM.

At which point Ken seems to have persuaded Rick Sutherland and Clint Field to get into the spirit of 'hanging out' and having the right clothing. Ed.

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With that, my first ever Q / A session with an ALMS driver concluded! Clint and I exchanged addresses to stay in touch and I was anxious to go over to meet with Barry in the Multimatic camp…..so anxious, that Clint had to remind me to open his car door and get my camera! Ya, I am rookie, but what an experience to talk to Clint and his team. I also spoke at great lengths with Rick Sutherland and “Doc”, but like a rookie, didn’t take any notes as they were giving me a class on “Rear Wing Set-Up” and Tech Talk. All in all, an experience I will never forget!

I look over to the Multimatic camp and see Barry talking with Scott Maxwell……

(Next installment from Ken May within 24 hours)

 

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