May’s “Informal Discussions At Putnam Park”
Clint Field (Tries The Multimatic)
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
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…..
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!
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!
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.
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”…..
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
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.
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.
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.
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……
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.
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.
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.
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
car has nice down force and was just fun to drive,
it was just different.
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.
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
CF: (Smiling) Being the car is so
driver friendly, I should be able to improve my times….
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.
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….
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.
(Laughing) A little different then from Sebring then huh?
CF: (Laughing) A little……
What are you plans for ‘04?
CF: Continue to do what we are doing……..
(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……
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.
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………
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
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.
Does that come to mind when you are on track…the amount
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.
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?
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.
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.
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……
installment from Ken May within 24 hours)