(& Much More)
“A Tale of Two Teams (Series?)”
Two Teams…One Track…..Different Agendas?
May asked Multimatic’s Barry McSherry if he
minded his presence at Putnam Park yesterday, April 23, for
the company’s demonstration of their Daytona Prototype.
Barry kindly agreed that Ken could be there: perhaps in our
own way, we’re all as enthusiastic about sportscar
racing as Ken May. The difference is that Ken’s enthusiasm
bubbles over with every word he writes. This could only happen
in sportscar racing, so sincere thanks to Multimatic for
tolerating our new man! Over to you Ken….and it's as
'picture heavy' as you'd expect...
Park, never heard of the place until this year, but I had an
opportunity to see one of the GARRA’s Daytona Prototypes
in action again (last time was at Daytona)…so off I went.
As I am traveling the back roads of Indiana to Putnam Park,
I feel as if I am back in Ohio traveling to my favorite track – Mid
Ohio. Racing through my mind are the questions I will pose
to Barry McSherry (Manager- Multimatic Sportscar Program) and
images in my mind of the photographs I hoped to take.
only a few hours and missing several turns, I arrive at this “quaint” racing
facility and notice hardly any cars…..could I have missed
the test session? As I drive up the winding road to the racing
tower, I am greeted by Larry Haltom – Track Manager. Larry
informs me to sign on the dotted line and proceeds to explain
that I am expected in the Multimatic area. This is going to be
I drive towards my designated parking spot…I slam on the
brakes….that surely is not the Multimatic…..hell
that is an ALMS LMP900 car! Wow….two teams…..one
track……full access to the entire testing session.
Am I in heaven?
As I am walking
to the tent, another sportscar captures my eye - what is this?
It can’t be, yep, it is a Panoz GT- ALMS and car number
stickers. I think to myself: “Must
be for the Panoz GT racing series, but I thought those cars were
the tent, Scott Maxwell greets me with a smile and I approach
the first person I see in a Multimatic shirt and introduce myself,
and ask for Barry. Shawn Mason – Team Manager explains
that Barry’s flight was delayed and would be here after
lunch. I explain that Barry has given me permission to observe
the “testing today”, take pictures of the Focus on
track and to conduct a Q/A ….Shawn says for me to have
fun and go at it….so off I go!
the Focus is on track and I climb the starter tower to shoot
some video and pictures of the car just feet below me.
Daytona prototype screams by me and I am shooting away with one
and trying to cover my ear with the other! That beast is loud….I
don’t recall the Focus being so loud at Daytona, but then
again, I was not just a few feet away.
As the Focus
hits the back part of the track, another sound fires up….one
that is more noticeable to me, the Judd V10……as I
turn around, I see the LMP 900 of John and Clint Field spring
to life and take the track (Rick Sutherland at the wheel).
I am debating
what to do, as I asked and was granted an invitation to cover
and picture the Focus, but this now changes everything…..What
an opportunity! To picture the top class of car, for the two
main Sportscar series in North America….Can’t pass
I run to the
front straight wall and prepare to capture a shot of both cars
on track……this is going to be great! The Lola is
flying around the track with Rick at the wheel and I figure two
more laps and I will be able to shoot them together at speed…….At
this point, terror runs through me as I may only get one chance….Will
I be able to perform “under pressure” and execute
the techniques that Martin Spetz explained to me?
more lap…..the Lola is almost there…..I am ready…..camera
tilted for better effect…..cars are at the back of the
course…..looks like by the time they hit the last corner,
I will be able to take the ONLY picture of a Daytona Prototype
and a LMP900 at speed side-by side……..
happening? Damn, the pass is taken out of view and to make matters
worse, the Focus pits! Oh well….maybe later in the day,
as it is only 10am! This drama would play out many times throughout
the day, and just when the opportunity would present itself for
a “Duel Prototype Picture” the Focus always seems
to “need to pit”.
spend the rest of the morning running between team pits and strike
up great conversations with “Doc” from the Banana
Joe’s camp and John Mattox – head engine builder
from Robert Yates Racing. During one of my many conversations
with Clint, I ask where is their main rig, as surely this small
trailer is a spare. Clint replies with a smile on his face of “Um
Ken, there is this little race in France coming up and it is
on its way over there…"
forgot about that!
hours of taking pictures and talking with the teams, I start
to migrate over to the Panoz GT and notice a lot of activity
around the car…..surely this is not the car that is going
to run in the ALMS GT class….I mean, it is missing some
body parts and the exhaust pipe is sticking out close to a foot
from where the bodywork would be!
soon Scott Maxwell is seen getting ready to get in the car and
take the GT for its “maiden voyage”.
stops by me and asks if I know the background of the car….
I explain that I saw the Panoz GT at Sebring, but was curious
on this one…..John informs me that this IS one of two cars
that will be racing in JUNE at Road Atlanta, but the bodywork
is not finished….the car is having the engine, electronics,
and exhaust go through its initial shake down….
As the GT is
fired up, the sound is overwhelming! The ALMS GT class has a
new force to reckon with!
does two stints in the car and after every completed stint, John
Mattox hooks up the lap top and gives a thumbs up! Everyone seems
to be very pleased with what they are testing and I overhear
Scott Maxwell explain that even with the current, incorrect bodywork, “the
car turns very well!”
I am approached and asked to make sure that I am clearly aware
that this is NOT the bodywork for the Panoz GT. I offer to delete
my pictures, but am informed that would not be necessary, but
to please acknowledge the car is not “race ready”. But
suddenly we are asked to remove images...so here's one from Sebring.
It is now about
lunch time and I confirm with both Barry and Clint that we will
conduct our Q/A after lunch……I start to head to my
car, but notice Clint putting his helmet on in the Multimatic
pits…………what’s this? Will definitely
have to ask him some questions on this after lunch!
Go to Part II (Clint
Field tries the Multimatic)