Sportscar365 caught up with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series Manager, Geoff Carter, to discuss a wide range of topics reflecting on his first season with IMSA and early new plans for 2016. Below is the Q&A:
What are your big takeaways from your first full season in IMSA?
“It’s been a lot of work. It’s taken me a few months to try to get integrated into this paddock. Just been a high volume of work. Coming to the end of the season, it felt like a pretty successful season, but it’s been a lot of work.”
What challenges have arisen? Has integrating the GT3-spec cars in for GTD in 2016 posed a major challenge?
“I think the biggest challenge to GT3 cars has been the stratification between GTLM and GT3/GTD cars, because there’s such a slot for them to fit into in the performance window and raceability, as it relates to the ecosystem. It’s been very challenging to define the BoP for each of them.”
One of IMSA’s stated goals for 2015 was achieving a “happy paddock.” Would you say that’s “mission accomplished?”
“Simply put, yes. One of the major focuses for me and for us internally was to integrate into the paddock, to listen to the paddock, to talk to the stakeholders… to understand where they were, what they needed, and to help sort of facilitate all the needs and integration of the rules.
“The basic goals were to calm down the officiating, with Beaux (Barfield, Race Director) coming on board, which I think we’ve done reasonably well.
“This year, we also finished out the transition of the merger, and are working to keep everyone calm with the integration of the new machinery for ’16 and ’17.”
If GT3 into GTD is one transition, how do you now go about planning for the next transition for Prototypes in 2017?
“I’d have to say I think it’s a constant transition. To get to the end goal, it just keeps moving year-after-year.
“To be in a series and company that has so much planning and forethought for 2-3-4-5 years down the road… I hadn’t really seen that in the past from where I came from, which was sometimes a “ready, shoot, aim!” mentality.
“Here, there is such a well-thought out strategy of implementation, that it’s refreshing and rewarding to plan the work, then work the plan.”
Has the marketing spend topic been contentious in working with the manufacturers?
“I don’t think it’s been contentious. I’m coming at it from the competition standpoint, and it’s working. Marketing does a good job. From my standpoint, we’re just checking boxes technically and getting going.”
BoP – and now we can call it that officially rather than AoP – is always a big talking point. Do you feel that was better managed to where it wasn’t as controversial as in the past?
“Finally (laughter)! But for me, my perspective only starts at the beginning of 2015, as far as being an ‘insider.’ We all have opinions from the outside, and you try to be careful about that if you don’t really know how it works.
“But coming in, one of the goals of me coming in, was to help understand the BoP process and to further that process, and to put more elements in place to bolster the technical department. We’ve done that successfully with the addition of Matt Kurdock, and are really starting to understand the vehicle dynamics data as well as the timing & scoring data.
“The goal the whole time for me was to help put more processes in place that were common sense approach and transparent, that were supported by the data, and to able to relay those messages in an articulate way to the manufacturers, stakeholders and even the fans.”
Do you expect any key staff changes over the winter?
“We’re continually working on bolstering our technical department. In terms of improving our technical department, we have Matt Kurdock now on board, and he’s the manager of our technical system.
“He does all the data collection, data analysis from vehicle dynamics, vehicle data. We’re working to put some standard data reporting to match up with our timing & scoring reporting.
“I think that will be a big aspect we hadn’t put those two together in the past, so that should be a good added feature for us.”
Do you feel happy with what has been achieved this year, or is there no time to rest and instead keep focused on the future?
“It’s just a continuing progression, and without sounding ungrateful or not really aware, the enemy of good is better, and we always strive to be better in our goals, our careers and our series.
“Simon (Hodgson, Managing Director, Racing Operations) and I, and the rest of the team, are working to push it further.
“For myself, I don’t think we really sit back too much and say, ‘We did this well.’ The reflection we have is only for the purpose of process improvement.”