Driver Spotlight: Matt Bell
Driver, No. 9 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R (CTSC)
How big of an adjustment has it been driving the new Z/28.R compared to last year’s car?
“The new Z/28.R is a fundamentally different car than the GS.R. Anybody that has even taken a glimpse into the cockpit would be able to see that the car Pratt and Miller built means business. The big 7.0L means we have a lot more torque, while the rules set keeps us at a similar horsepower to the old 6.2L. The new powerplant certainly makes corner exit a bit trickier, but when you get it right, acceleration (and the sound) is amazing. The new body offers a lot more aerodynamic benefits as well, but these didn’t require any change of driving style to get “used to”– it’s really just a free lunch. In all, there are enough differences between the old and new car that the driving style does change a fair amount, but it isn’t a steep learning curve. ”
Do you see CTSC gaining more recognition this year because of the merger?
“I would love to say that the merger will offer more recognition for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, but we will have to see. I do see that CTSC is the most unchanged series in the merger, so that has offered a great place for teams to still get their racing fix without gambling on too many expensive changes to compete in the higher classes. Due to this, our car counts are awesome which keeps the races action packed. I am a big believer that with the right spotlight, this series could be at least as popular as the TUDOR Championship. It races cars that are familiar to the average American and pits them against similar cars, smashing a few steel fenders on the way. Who doesn’t love that?”
What are some of the challenges that Lime Rock presents as a track?
“Lime Rock is a blast to drive, but can also be very discouraging. The short lap means you get to see the same set of corners very often in a given session, but it also means that the entire field can be split by only about a second. It is sometimes hard to digest being 0.10 seconds off the leader from 10th place! There aren’t many places to pass at Lime Rock. This can be very frustrating, and often means for some large packs of angry drivers. The track also offers some challenges to engineers. Most of the corners are right handers. This means teams will have to make a decision on installing an asymmetrical setup on the car, gambling on the benefit of sacrificing the one right turn for the other six lefts.”
What’s it like racing against your brother, Tim, and do you have any interesting stories from that?
“Racing against a brother, at least from my perspective, is not too difficult. Once on track, I don’t really care who anyone is, all I care about it looking for a way past. I know as many of Tim’s tricks as he knows mine, so there’s no major advantage there. We have yet to really have that moment where we’re both battling for the lead, or something to that end. I’m a little excited for that since I think it will be fun, and certainly make for some good TV time. I’ve tried my best to keep out of his business when it comes to driving and team ownership. I don’t want to worry for him about the bumper cover I’m punching holes in!”
We know you drive a Camaro on the track. What is your daily driver off-track and what type of music are you cranking when you’re in your daily driver?
“I am a little boring on the street. I drive an old Audi Allroad station wagon with “Coffee Mode”, also known as an automatic transmission. At least it has a V8, though it is a bit asthmatic compared to the big 7.0L I get used to in the Chevy on the track! Unfortunately, my daily driver has little to do with my career at the moment, though I did recently install some of Continental’s latest low rolling resistance all season tires on the “Baggin’ Wagon”. Those have been amazing! I would love to see what an FBI personality analyst would come up with when shown my music choices! I’m all over the map. As long as it isn’t country, I’ll probably play it in the car. It’s all about my mood. When I’m heading to the track I usually have some time to get my blood flowing. When I’m on a long drive home, the music reflects my need to unwind a bit.”