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, three-time Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge class champion Scott Maxwell reflects on his championship seasons, his favorite Ford Mustang, and why he’s still having fun behind the wheel.
How has Continental Tire Challenge changed in your time in the series?
“I’ve been in it for awhile now. I guess it’s just the timing of my career and the stage I’m at toward the end of my career, so I’ve seen a lot of changes, mostly for the good.
“I think right now we’re riding a wave with the GT4 formula and TCR cars coming in, so I think we’ll look back on what we’re seeing right now as one of the golden years of this type of racing.
“The best part of this series has always been the actual racing and how it can encompass both professionals and amateurs alike.
“It always provides good racing whether the grids are huge or small, there’s always great racing going on.
“Racing’s never cheap and it’s hard for guys to get in, but I think at a semi-pro level this has always been a stellar series.”
Is there a particular season from your career in Continental Tire Challenge that stands out to you?
“The most recent thing would be the 2016 GS championship in the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R-C with Billy Johnson. We had a pretty good championship year then.
“But also the years with Hyper Sport, which turned into Dempsey Racing, we pulled a championship off then, and again back in 2005 with the FR500 and Dave Empringham.
“They all stand out in different ways. For me it was almost always in the Ford Mustangs.
“I did a couple of years with the Aston Martins which was fun as well, but I think historically I’ll always be tied in with the Ford Mustang and the evolution of the different cars over the last decade or so.”
What generation of Mustang do you have a special affinity for?
“To be honest with you, it’s the one we’re running right now, the GT4. I’m pretty proud of that car having been fairly hands-on in that development and having the development role with Multimatic.
“I think the proof is in the pudding. We’re getting great results with all the teams we have: KohR and Volt and PF Racing and whatnot.
“Obviously we have great teams but also great drivers with Kyle [Marcelli] and Trent [Hindman] and Jade [Buford] and Chad [McCumbee].
“The bottom line is that I’m having the worst season I’ve ever had in my life, but having said that it’s pretty satisfying to see the Mustang winning races because they all came out of the same place.
“It shows you it’s a solid product. I enjoy driving it, especially at my advanced age with all the paddle shifting and traction control, it makes it a lot easier for an old guy like me.”
When a Mustang GT4 wins, even if you aren’t the one behind the wheel, does that give you a sense of pride and accomplishment?
“It’s bittersweet depending on the circumstance, but yeah for sure. I’d rather have a Mustang win than anything else and having a small part of the contribution to the car, a small piece of that, it makes you feel good.
“Especially when you see Chad or Patrick [Gallagher] or Kyle or any of these guys winning races, it’s a good feeling for sure.”
What has Continental Tire’s involvement meant to Continental Tire Challenge in particular and sports car racing more generally?
“It’s massive. It’s not just in our class, it’s in other classes too, but sports car racing historically has struggled for support. We’ve always had manufacturers involved, but you need the suppliers to commit as well.
“They’ve invested heavily, not only in the sport but specifically sports car racing, and I think everyone in that racing community is very much appreciative of not only what Continental has brought to the party but also exposure and marketing over the years. They’ve done a phenomenal job.”