Multimatic (& Much More)
“A Tale of Two Teams (Series?)”
Two Teams…One Track…..Different Agendas?

Ken 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...


dailysportscar.comPutnam 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.

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dailysportscar.comAfter 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 fun!

But wait….as 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?

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dailysportscar.comAs 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 all white.”…..

Upon entering 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!

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dailysportscar.comSoon the Focus is on track and I climb the starter tower to shoot some video and pictures of the car just feet below me.

The Daytona prototype screams by me and I am shooting away with one hand 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).

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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 this up!

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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?

One 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……..

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But wait…..what’s 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”.

dailysportscar.comI 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…"

” Oops, forgot about that!

After several 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!

Pretty soon Scott Maxwell is seen getting ready to get in the car and take the GT for its “maiden voyage”.

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John Graham 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!

Scott Maxwell 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!”

With that, 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.

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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!

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Go to Part II (Clint Field tries the Multimatic)

 

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