SCC: Burrows, Hopwood trade seats with PR manager Cleary

Trading Paint- Burrows and Hopwood, SCDA, and Motion Dynamics Put Sunday Group Management Behind the Wheel By Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood "Cleary's faster at writing press releases than he is in a race car..." says KONI Champ Hopwood Lee,...

Trading Paint- Burrows and Hopwood, SCDA, and Motion Dynamics Put Sunday Group Management Behind the Wheel
By Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood

"Cleary's faster at writing press releases than he is in a race car..." says KONI Champ Hopwood

Lee, NH (14 Aug 09)--No doubt that many of you are familiar with Sunday Group Management's lead motorsports scribe Matt Cleary. When not producing multiple releases every race weekend from the confines of the media center, he's often seen in the Rolex, Koni and Mustang Challenge paddocks, darting between transporters, capturing vital data points from driver, team owners and engineers alike. Additionally, Matt has been both our Media and Driver Manager since we started in the KONI Sportscar Challenge in 2007.

It's often that we find ourselves chatting with Matt about the details of what we face when we're on track . . . how the car is handling, the nuances of a particular corner or what it's like to deal with traffic. The frequency of these discussions got us thinking: "What if we take the Little PR Guy, throw a helmet on him and stick him behind the wheel for a day?"

Not only would that give him a bit more perspective on what we do every weekend, it might even give him more credibility with his current stable of clients . . . not to mention make him a bit of a legend in the media center.

As you might imagine, this concept gained immediate traction with Mr. Cleary. Putting the pieces together, we contacted our good friend Ian Prout to see if we might be able to find a spot in one of his many Sports Car Driving Association (www.scda1.com <http://www.scda1.com> ) track days. Fortunately, there was just one spot left in an upcoming event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a tight and challenging course that runs inside, and outside, of the one-mile oval that the facility is famous for.

We also contacted our friends at Motion Dynamics racing bring the #30 iRacing.com Spec Racer Ford down to the track from Matt's abus . . . er, use.

Looking slightly like an orphaned child, wearing an assortment of safety gear from the depths of the Burrows/Hopwood racing closet, Matt stood ready for action in one of the NHMS garages on an overcast but dry day in late July. After a short briefing on the controls of his new mount, we strapped him in, slapped him on the helmet and gave him the always encouraging, "Have fun! Don't hit anything." talk, before he puttered into pit pane for his first session.

"I kind of thought I was going to get a little more 'coaching' from these guys before I hit the track," said Cleary after retuning to the garage. "I guess since I always crush them when we go karting, they figured that I'd be able to sort things out on my own. I spent some time driving the track on the iRacing simulator at Trev's house last night and I'd certainly say that it helped me hit the ground running. It's really fantastic that these guys did this for me. At this point, there is no question that they are the best clients I've ever had. I mean, they brought my company it's first championship . . . and now this!"

Fortunately, the exclusive nature of the day afforded Matt abundant track time to improve his technique.

"I participated in a racing school a number of years ago but, this really allowed me to have some fun and explore the limits of the car at my own pace. I gradually went from being 'Peter point-by' to holding my own a little bit. I definitely felt like I was improving every session and the guys gave me some pointers that helped considerably, although I still don't know why though everyone just rolled their eyes every time I asked what the track record was. I think I might have just touched the wall coming out of turn two but, don't tell that to Burrows."

We certainly agreed that, buy the end of the day, Matt looked more like a seasoned professional than someone who's dropped his keyboard at the door that morning. We could hear a lot of well-executed downshifts and noted some pretty tidy lines from our speedy scribe.

The only issue that cropped up occurred as Matt took his helmet off at the end of the day and said,

"Guys, that was very cool. So . . . ah . . . when are we doin' this again?" Perhaps we should look to some of his other clients to pick up the ball and run with this one. Mr. Shank, if you will . . .

-credit: sgm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Trevor Hopwood , Adam Burrows