Martin Plowman (@Plowey) driver of the #37 Morgan-Nissan American Le Mans Prototype 2 car in the American Le Mans Series spoke to Mojo Motors Regional Sales Manager Bryan Jennings. Listen to the entire interview or get a recap of the interview after the jump.
Bryan: Welcome everyone to the Mojo Motors Race Report. Today we have driver of the #37 @ConquestRacingMachine, Martin Plowman. Martin, welcome to the show.
Martin: Thanks for having me on.
Bryan: So in the past year you’ve made a transition from the IndyCar series to the American LeMans Series, can you talk a little about the differences between the two series and the change in the cars?
Martin: Endurance racing from a snapshot is very different from what I’ve been used to in IndyCar racing with the sprint races. The races are typically much, much longer and the main thing that I have to get used to is that I have to share the car with a co-driver. The class that I race in is the Lemans Prototype 2 Class, which means you have one amateur driver and one pro-driver. I’m the only pro-driver and my co-driver is an amateur by the name of David Heinemeier Hansson @dhh. He’s only been racing for about four years but he’s really adapted to racing. He’s really gotten up to speed. The thing is for me, if he’s the bigger driver, the seat is made for him and my body has to adjust. So I get the short end of the stick there.
Bryan: So when you switch drivers is there an insert that you put on the seat or do you just have to conform to what’s already in there?
Martin: Basically, we have a seat insert that goes by many names. Some people call it “The Baby Seat” but we call it “The Ass Adaptor.” It’s a bit of a crude term. Basically, he’ll have a very large seat and then I put in my pre-foam molded seat so it’s like a seat within a seat. It kind of takes the form of my posterior so it’s a funny little thing.
Bryan: By the way, congratulations, you and your team just pulled off your second victory of the year here at Road America. Can you talk a little bit about that because you had to pull off quite the driving task when you took over as driver?
Martin: Yeah, thanks bud. It’s really great to get a second win in our first season. It’s what we had hoped to achieve but nothing is easy in racing. At Conquest Endurance we really are the underdogs. We’re operating on a very small budget, it’s a very tight unit with very good people. And the people we are going up against, they run on an operating budget that could easily run four or five IndyCar teams. There really is a gulf in resources but I think this year we’re proving it’s wiser to invest in good people than in money.
Bryan: Right, this race here you really put on quite a show moving the car up through the field quickly to P1.
Martin: Yeah, with endurance racing it’s pretty unique because it’s multiclass racing. In IndyCar racing you’re racing against the same cars but in American Lemans you’re on the track at the same time with the GT cars and the much slower GT Amateur cars. It’s like a speed differential of 50-60 mph so it can get pretty hectic out there. You’re racing against cars that are just like you but you’re also racing with slower guys. Managing that traffic, knowing when to pass, where to pass, and how to pass is really key.
Bryan: Now with this second win this season; this puts you back in the points race for the Championship. Was that part of the plan or has it just come about because you guys have had some good success in the car?
Martin: No we’re just taking it one race at a time. Of course our goal is to win races and winning races leads you to the championship. We’re trying hard not to focus on the championship right now because the guys to beat are guys who are already winning races so for us to win the championship we’ve just got to go and win races. It sounds simple but we’ve just got to stay grounded and stay focused and just take it one race at a time.
Bryan: Now I know off the track Martin, you’re pretty active in the community and your charity. Talk a little about Snowball Express because I know that’s something you’re very passionate about.
Martin: Yes I’m involved in a charity called Snowball Express. It’s a charity for children and families of fallen military heroes and victims of 9/11. I’ve been a spokesperson for just over a year now. I was actually introduced to them by a friend who was a chairman of the charity. Once I got to meet a few of the families, it struck me just how strong they really are. You know these families have lost a loved one and 30 days after their loved one’s passing, they are ordered off the base by the military and then go back home with their young kids. They try to rebuild their lives. What Snowball Express does is contact other families and other children who are going through the same thing and the goal is to create new hope and memories for these kids. We take the kids out on a race weekend and we treat them as VIPs. We give them an experience that they can take to school and brag with their friends about.
Bryan: That’s really awesome, Martin. It’s great that you’re a part of something that gives children a bright experience in the middle of a challenging time.
Martin: Oh sure, it may not seem like much because we’re just giving of time, resources, and tickets but we’re giving them an experience that not every fan would get to have. One story that I’ll share with you is of a little kid named Jason who I hosted at an IndyCar race in Sonoma. Jason came and was very shy, he literally wouldn’t speak to anyone all day. Apparently his mom said that he had been shut down emotionally for the last six years. His dad had died maybe eight years prior but he was still having a hard time. So we were all there just trying to engage him and get him out of his shell. At the end of the race, all of the kids were gathered around the car and taking turns getting in the car but Jason was still lingering at the back of the car hiding behind his Mom. So I just went over, picked him up, placed him in the car and starting explaining the steering wheel to him. All of a sudden he had this little smirk on his face and then Buck Kern, the Executive Director took a picture. Apparently on his way home he turned to his mom and said, “Mom, today was the best day of my life.” When I heard that, it really brought me to tears because at the time, it didn’t really feel like we were making ground with him but for Jason, it gave him a really amazing experience that allowed him to forget his troubles for awhile. You can go on the website and check out their four day event that they hold in Dallas every year. 1500 kids are flown in by American Airlines and they all stay at a Sheraton Hotel free of charge. It’s just a four day celebration of life with concerts and trips to Six Flags…a great way to get away right before Christmas time.
Bryan: That’s great. So Martin the fan favorite question is what do you drive off the track and why?
Martin: I’m going to completely disappoint you here because I drive a pretty modest Ford Fusion. Now let me explain why…two years ago I was given an Acura MDX to drive by American Honda and I accrued four out of the six total speeding points in my first year of driving it here in the States. I don’t want people to get the idea that I’m a fast or a reckless driver because I think I’m pretty safe on the road. However, when you’re driving one of those beasts you just squeeze the throttle a little bit and all of a sudden you’re going 78 in a 60mph zone. It got pretty expensive real quick. So I got something that you could drive quite hard and not get going anywhere really quick. You know, this thing is cheap, the gas is affordable, and it keeps my license.
Bryan: Understandable with that. One question though, why did you pick the Ford Fusion?
Martin: Oh, I don’t know, I went to a local dealership and it was on sale. It looked like the kind of car that would blend in with everybody else. One thing I don’t want to do is draw attention to myself and it looked like a car that would blend in with its environment. I get my kicks on the track. I have a 500 horsepower car that I drive on the weekends but I’ll stick to my 100 horsepower car for the road.
Bryan: Martin, thank you for your time today. Best of luck coming up in Baltimore and we look forward to having you on the show again soon.
Martin: Thank you.