Ford Racing, Multimatic teleconference (part 3)

Continued from part 2 Q: Greg stated he obviously has quite a bit of interest in continuing to run throughout the year with the program at possibly Barber and Watkins Glen. Do you also have that same interest in bringing these drivers ...

Continued from part 2

Q: Greg stated he obviously has quite a bit of interest in continuing to run throughout the year with the program at possibly Barber and Watkins Glen. Do you also have that same interest in bringing these drivers back?

LARRY HOLT: Oh, absolutely. Again, I'll go back to an earlier statement when they opened this. My belief is that the only way I'm going to make this strong and continue to be strong now against Crawford and Riley and Doran and those boys is that I get to continue to race my car, learn what it needs, make those bits, make it competitive, and then pass those pieces on to my customers. That is the commitment I've now made, rather than have my customers out there doing it and me in the background.

So we're going to continue racing with this thing.  I want to do a full
season.  Obviously, it all comes down to finances and sponsorship and stuff.
But Ford has been very, very good with help there.  And, you know, we've got
sponsors on board.  That's all looking good.

I guess to bring some excitement to the whole thing, I would love to do that. You know, this is harkening back - somebody said it earlier on - to what happened in the '60s and '70s. Everybody raced everything. When you had Mario (Andretti) driving Formula 1 cars, Indy Cars, stock cars and everything else. That kind of went away in the '80s and maybe '90s. But now it looks like maybe we're going to get a little bit of that back.

I think the crossover for the fan base between different types of racing is going to be very, very positive. So I'm up for that. Any time these guys are interested in coming and racing with us, I think both Scott and I would say, yeah, we're going to have them in our race car.

ADAM SAAL: To follow up on what Larry said, we will have a who's who of auto racing stars at the Rolex 24 this year. We've already had on an unofficial basis an indication that we're going to see a lot more of those guys at showcase races throughout the season as well. I think it comes down to the fact that guys like driving this race car.

Scott, is this indeed a driver's race car, the new Daytona Prototype?

SCOTT MAXWELL: Yeah, definitely, Adam. What it actually lacks, which makes it more of a driver's car, it doesn't have a lot of tire under you. It doesn't have a lot of aerodynamics compared to other prototypes. So what that does is you get a lot of feedback driving the car. I think the stronger drivers can actually get more out of the car because they're feeling what the car is doing.

It's always moving around. It never feels like it's pinned to the ground, which sort of gives you a false sensation when you have a lot of aero. So that just makes it a more difficult car to get the most out of, which in return good drivers tend to really thrive on that.

Q: What rpm limit has Grand-Am set for that motor for this next season?

LARRY HOLT: 6900. We lost, if you guys are aware, at the beginning of last year, we lost I think it was 400 rpm off of our limit. We went from 7300 to 6900.

I will now stand on my soapbox and say it really, really hurt me!  But, you
know, there we go.  We have to live with what we've got.

Q: You haven't been able to buy any of those rpms back?

LARRY HOLT: We haven't been able to buy any of the rpms back. I think we might have been able to buy some of the little ponies back, but nobody's given me the rpms back.

Q: Talk a bit about the tire situation going into the season, the test you've done on the new tire.

LARRY HOLT: I'll open by telling you what it is, then I'll hand it over to Scott to tell you what it feels like.

You know, they made a change in the tire manufacturer to Hoosier. We're going to end up having a situation where we all have just one compound per race rather than in the past when we've had two compounds per race and had to make a choice on that, which sometimes caught people out.

Hoosier is going to offer two compounds for Daytona because sometimes it snows at night so I guess they're going to bring a snow tire with them or something! We have two compounds for Daytona.

As far as I'm concerned, the testing I've done with the tires as an engineer and as a car manufacturer, they are very good, a very strong tire. I can't comment really on how they compare time-wise to Goodyear, because we never completely ran the same place at the same time.

Saying that, we were at Miami a few weeks ago and we were running very, very competitive times there, as competitive as anything we ran on the other brand.

So I have no issue with what Hoosier is bringing. It's maybe going to level the playing field just a little bit because now there's not going to be any messing around with compounds.

And then Scott has been doing the driving on it, so he can tell you what he thinks.

SCOTT MAXWELL: Yeah, I mean, I've been involved in two or three of the Hoosier tests now. I've been really impressed with Hoosier, not only their enthusiasm but the quality of the tire. We've tried a number of different combinations.

I'm not saying Hoosier has come to a final conclusion on the tire they're going to use all year, because I think they're on a pretty steep learning curve. But I really have been impressed by the consistency of the tire, especially over a long duration, which is really what a driver wants - the tire at the start of the stint is as close to that condition and that performance level as it is at the end.

And that's one thing we learned at the Watkins Glen test, they do have the ability of having a tire that can run for 45 minutes, one hour, without dropping off at all.

So far their engineers I think are learning a lot and they're taking the feedback that the various drivers have given them and are coming out with a good product.

Q: If you go to, the Ford Racing website, you'll have a hard time finding Grand American road racing listed anywhere among the racing series. How does Ford view Grand American? Is this announcement today a sign of its rising importance in their overall portfolio of racing programs?

LARRY HOLT: Yeah, I can't answer directly for Ford. But as a team that works closely with Ford, I'd say that I do know for a fact that Dan Davis, who is the director of FRT, the Ford organization, takes the whole Grand-Am thing very, very seriously.

They have sort of been very selective about the racing series they've been involved with, and there's a huge commitment obviously to NEXTEL Cup and to Rally. But I as a race team owner am counting on all that Jaguar Formula 1 money coming my way in the next short period of time!

ADAM SAAL: I really can't speak for Ford, but having known Dan Davis for a couple of years, the enthusiasm you could have gathered from him when he was at Virginia hanging out at the Multimatic transporter, looking at the car, it was evident he's engaged in this program. We do appreciate the commitment.

Q: Are we likely to see a man with a straw hat and glasses standing somewhere behind the Multimatic pit wall in Daytona?

LARRY HOLT: I don't know if he's going to show up, but I'll listen to whatever he has to tell me to do. He knows a hell of a lot more about it than I do.

Q: Scott, you haven't been on the radar screen very much in the last year. What have you been up to since 2003 especially?

SCOTT MAXWELL: Primarily doing a lot of testing and development with Ford and Multimatic, both on this car and we have a new Mustang program coming down the pike that you guys will see at Daytona, as well. So they keep me busy.

I haven't been racing as much as I'd like to, but it looks like it's going to change this year. When I'm not at the racetrack competing against other cars, I seem to be getting feedback from a lot of smart guys.

Q: I know a lot of guys are more than happy to take seat time in development because they at least get in a car and actually probably put in more laps in development than they do in a race itself. Notwithstanding the fact that a race offers the opportunity to compete against other people, and in 2003 you guys really would have won the race had it not been for the proverbial nail in the shoe. In this case it was two springs that broke, throttle springs, if I remember correctly, that needed to be replaced. That provided the margin of loss for you guys. If those hadn't of broken, you would have won overall. Are you looking forward to getting back in that car and going for that overall?

SCOTT MAXWELL: Yeah. Absolutely. Don't get me wrong. I really do enjoy the testing and working with the engineers and making the car better. That's always a challenge. And driving at any time is a lot of fun.

But racing is the ultimate, competing against other car and driver combinations. We now have a line-up in this car. It's obviously going to be a fairly high-exposure experience with Crown Royal joining us and Ford. Yeah, I can't wait for Daytona. I'm just counting the days till the Daytona test, let alone the race. I think we're going to have a heck of a good time, and hopefully we can spin that into a full year program in the Daytona Prototypes.

Q: Scott, you've been involved in endurance racing for quite a few years. Last year you had a chance to lead the race at VIR. I think there's about a string of 10 Prototypes right behind you, definitely looking a lot like a sprint race rather than a three-hour endurance race. With 30 cars on the grid this year, most of them being very fast cars, lots of pro drivers from various disciplines of racing, do you need to change your strategy and how you get ready for the race, both mentally and physically looking at 24 hours of competition. Is this going to be an all-out sprint?

SCOTT MAXWELL: I've done enough 24-hour races that I think it won't change my approach mentally or physically. I think more than anything, though, you just can't let go. You have to push the whole way through. And I guess that's my biggest challenge working with the three NEXTEL Cup drivers is I know they have the speed and the talent, that's not a problem. It's just a different mindset when you go into a race like this. You don't have to fight for every corner. So once in a while you have to sort of use your head, use some tact and know that it's a long race. You have to be aggressive, but you don't have to win every corner to come out on top. So that's going to be the biggest thing, just using your head in traffic.

That will probably be the biggest thing that the guys will have to get used to, the disparity in speed between a Prototype car and a GT car. There's probably going to be 60, 65 cars out there, you're always around somebody. You just got to be very careful on what you're doing when you're going through a clump of traffic, making sure they're aware you're there.

Q: Will we see the Crown Royal sponsorship beyond the 24?

LARRY HOLT: I can't answer that right now. We'd like to think that's going to continue. Ford and the rest of the people that helped put that together are working away on that. I think probably a little bit of that is going to be decided by how well we do. And I think we're going to do well. We'll see what happens.

Q: Who is Scott going to be paired with for the sprint car races during the rest of the season?

LARRY HOLT: As we said earlier, I think if there's opportunities, - that wasn't just an offhand comment - about the possibility of NEXTEL Cup drivers being in the car. That's a very real possibility that Ford will want to bring along one or other of these three guys for the races where they're available.

The other two guys that we basically exclusively work with - I'm not going to tell you who it is right now as far as we've made our choice, - but it will be one of the Davids, Empringham or Brabham. Those are the guys we always work with. Those are the guys that Scott drove with in 2003. They're our top choices.

ADAM SAAL: Again, we already thanked Greg Biffle and sent him on his way. We look forward to seeing him in Daytona Beach. Scott, we want to thank you as well for joining us today, as well as Larry. You are at the Multimatic offices up in Toronto. Have a great Christmas.

We will also have another announcement of a major driver line-up for the Rolex 24 at Daytona on a January 4th teleconference, which will be a Tuesday at this same time, 2:00 p.m. eastern. Keep an eye on your e-mail early in the New Year for that update.


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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Greg Biffle