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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Matt Keegan

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass with Team Panoz Racing driver Matt Keegan…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO America

Matt Keegan returned to Pirelli GT4 America competition for the final three rounds of the 2020 season reunited with Team Panoz Racing for which he won the 2019 SprintX Am drivers championship.

This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Keegan reflects on the chance to rejoin the team when they returned to action at Road America, the significance of the team’s parter Galaxy Magnesium, what being on the sidelines for the start of the season was like, and more.

How exciting was it to reunited with Ian James and the rest of the Panoz team for the final few races of the season?

“It was great to be back with the team. Last year after Vegas, that was our swan song in a way, and I was thinking: well, this is it. There was a little bit of hope that we were going to be able to get the band back together.

“Honestly going into this year I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. When the opportunity came back with Panoz, it was exciting. I love working with Ian James and that team.

“I’ve been been with some great teams, but those Panoz guys from the mechanics to the crew chiefs, everybody makes our job easy because they’re so good at what they do.

“It was nice to be able to come back and have no stress about anything. We were just out there to have fun and do the best we could.

“I think we had a good showing considering we came with no testing, no driving. We just showed up and we were still competitive, which was cool.

What was it like watching the start to the season and not being involved?

“Coming off of a championship last year, that was a neat accomplishment. Going into this year, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. There was no program that got me super excited.

“I did talk to some people, but I was in this place where after going, going, going for a number of years, maybe now it was time for a little break.

“I was looking at doing some one-off races, but the timing was interesting because all of a sudden COVID happened.

“There was another team that I thought we might have something going to start at Long Beach, but then COVID ruined some plans. But I realized that I was enjoying being at home and not on the road.

“Whether it’s traveling for work or for racing, for the last decade I’ve been gone a ton. It was nice to be home.

“It was nice to get a little taste this year, but at the same time not have a racing schedule that had me on the road one weekend every month.”

What have you been doing with your time when you haven’t been racing?

“I was joking with Ian [James] that starting this race season was going to ruin my fitness program, because I’ve become obsessed with cycling. Every day I’m either on my mountain bike or my road bike pedaling away.

“The weekends were screwing up my fitness program, but it was great to be back. It was interesting though, watching some of those races early in the season and not being there.

“I’ve also been doing a lot of karting with my kids, and what’s funny is I’ve had more fun going to the kart track with them and not even necessarily driving.

“Watching them run around the track is pretty cool. It’s also big time fun to be on the track with them goofing around. We’ve had some pretty good times doing that.”

Galaxy Magnesium came on board a sponsor this year. What was their feedback on being a partner of the team?

“I think that they are really eager to find a partner that can help them with their project. They see a lot of benefit in what they’re doing as it relates to motor racing.

“There’s obviously history in using magnesium in wheels for race cars. They see it as a delivery point to connect with people and get the supply chain moving in the right direction for their company.

“They were very supportive. They would come to the races and asked a lot of good questions. My assessment of it is: they were very engaging and very interested in the relationship. We were very grateful for what they did for us.”

What do you have in the works for next year?

“I don’t know what next year is going to look like again. I’m in this space of the right thing will come along and we’ll figure it out.

“I’m enjoying that it’s October and I have no travel plans for the rest of the year. That’s been quite nice. Let’s just roll with it and see what happens.”

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