IMSA Spotlight: Tom Dyer
Driver: No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3
How has it been working with Michael Shank Racing and the Acura NSX GT3 program?
“It’s been absolutely great working with the MSR team. And honestly, it’s been a real collective effort to this point between MSR, HPD and Realtime as everyone involved on the program have been working flat out as one to make it the best it can be.
“I’ve been super impressed with the level of professionalism and cohesiveness (which is expected on many levels) and it’s exceeded my expectations. MSR has a family atmosphere to it which makes sense since many within the team have been together for a long time. Mike (Shank) has built his team up brick by brick for so many years and it’s a great opportunity for him to continue building upward as a unit.
“As for the program itself, it’s very cool to work with a company like Acura and a group like HPD. There’s a genuine can-do spirit striving to make the car the best it can be and everything matters down to the smallest of details.
“It’s important because for it to ultimately be a successful GT3 customer car all the little details need to be right in addition to outright performance. So with that in mind everyone involved has been operating with macro and micro perspectives as the car is being developed and tested for its final homologation specs.”
What is the Acura like to drive? Is it comparable to anything you’ve driven in the past?
“Compared to other GT3 spec and similar type cars I’ve driven I’d say currently it feels quite similar and yet more refined in many ways. Being a mid-engine car the handling and balance are good and feels like it makes good downforce so these are important boxes to tick obviously.
“With the turbo power plant it has a good sound inside the car that is not buzzy or raucous like some others I’ve been in, so there’s a bit more calm and smooth sensation inside the car when driving and operating up through the gears. That will be a nice attribute during longer stints and endurance races as the more calm things can be, the better.
“As with many of the GT3 cars, now there’s a lot of switches and knobs on the steering wheel and inside the cockpit so there is a bit of a prototype feel when seated inside. I’m biased of course, but I think it’s definitely one of the best-looking GT3 cars out there now and I like that it has a more sleek silhouette than boxy body outline.”
You have the unique schedule of doing the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races in the WeatherTech Championship and also the SprintX races in World Challenge. Do you feel having the extra seat time in the car will help both programs?
“It will help, but more to get us familiarized with the car and I think Mark (Wilkins) and I will still be behind on time spent in the seat compared to the regular season drivers.
“Our role is to come in, get up to speed quickly, and be a solid addition to take load off your teammates with minimal fuss and I know that’s what Mark and I will do. It’s always great to spend more seat time in the car that you’re going to be racing and it will be an interesting challenge to drive the same car in two different series that operate with different tires. So, we will have to see.
“The good thing is the car itself will be the same and it will come down mostly to learning the tire and what it wants on that given weekend at that given track.”
Which Patron Endurance Cup race are you looking forward to the most in 2017?
“Honestly, all of them because they each have their own specific nuances and specialness. Daytona and Sebring are two iconic endurance events with so much rich history attached that makes them very special. Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta are two of my favorite North American tracks so I definitely look forward to them as well.
“Another aspect that makes it difficult to pick one over the others is all four of them have really great fan turn-outs and bases so it reinforces the special feel and atmosphere each event generates. That’s why those four events are the TPNAEC.
“Also, there is a great buzz and vibe within the WeatherTech Championship right now with the new cars and especially within the GTD category. It’s going to be ultra-competitive with some phenomenal racing in 2017, so it’s a great opportunity to be competing with MSR and Acura in the new NSX GT3 car and I’m more excited for the challenge of them all as opposed to a specific event.”
How did you get your start in racing?
“I grew up in and around the sport. My dad Buzz raced semi-professionally in Trans-Am and some other categories mostly on the west coast. My parents actually met at the race track so I’ve been going to the track and around it for as long as I can remember! I started racing with karts and then moved into open wheel and closed wheel after.
“I’ve been fortunate to have driven and competed in many different categories all of which will be of benefit going forward with this challenge and opportunity in the NSX program.”