Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week, Matt Plumb reflects on his time spent racing in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series, learning from bitter disappointment, and Continental’s legacy in North American sports car racing.
What memories stand out from your 2012 and 2013 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge seasons?
“2012 was a bitter sweet season. We had amazing success throughout the season winning half of the races and securing the championship with a dramatic win at Lime Rock.
“It was the perfect combination of great people, fast car and well executed races.
“The bitter part was the loss of driver championship because of a paperwork issue. This was definitely an extremely low point, but in hindsight became the most valuable lesson in putting things behind you, refocusing and only worrying about the things within your control.
“You have to always be moving forward, that we did by coming back and winning it all in 2013!”
What were your expectations going into that season?
“We knew from the beginning that we had something special as a team. It was a really incredible dynamic, everyone knew their role, knew what they would be held responsible for, if we won we celebrated together, when we didn’t we all pulled together to help be better.
“The key element was we had an owner who wanted to win, and trusted us completely to execute the plan toward that goal. Based on that I felt that it was only a matter of timing that we had success.”
What made Continental Tire Challenge make sense for Rum Bum Racing?
“Luis Bacardi had been a sponsor in 2008 for a prototype effort that I was lucky enough to drive for so he was able to see how things worked within the series.
“The Continental Tire Challenge was a great entry point to get the program started and to really perfect the process. It was hard to compete with its exposure, fan counts as well as budget.”
What is the significance of the Continental Tire Challenge series for your career?
“I have been extremely lucky to have been a part of Grand Am almost since its inception and see the evolution of the series to this point.
“It has been the place where most of my success has occurred, I have made incredible relationships with a lot of very talented people and I think everyone should be very appreciative of the fact that we have a venue like this to share the sport we all love.”
In your mind, what is Continental Tire’s legacy in North American sports car racing?
“Continental Tire, like its performance on track, has been such a consistent partner throughout its run with IMSA. It has really set the bar going forward for future partners.
“The product has held up despite all the changes to the cars and the punishment of its participants.
“The folks on the ground have always been so active with us to encourage feedback, and were always looking for ways to increase our exposure with the fans.
“I will always have fond memories distributing Continental trinkets in the early morning at Sebring to some very ‘spirited’ fans!”