SCi Five Questions: Scott Sharp

I’m not sure Scott Sharp looked up the definition of the word “extreme” when he named his new American Le Mans Series race team. Talk about being careful what you wish for. In the last five months Scott’s life has become, in a word, EXTREME. Teaming up with the American Le Mans Series’ new presenting sponsor, Tequila Patrón, Scott formed Extreme Speed Motorsports, a two Ferrari effort that will compete in the Series’ highly competitive GT division. To say Scott’s been going flat out ever since would be an understatement.

Lucky for us, we caught up with Scott and put him on the hot seat for SCi’s Five Questions.

JT: Scott, thanks for taking time out of what must be a totally slammed schedule. With all the interest in your new team, I know readers are anxious to hear what’s been going on. Let’s start out with the obvious… has the undertaking of starting a brand new two-car team been anything like what you imagined it would be? How are you personally enjoying your new role as team owner?

SS: Growing up around my Father’s race team prepared me fairly well.  I think I’ve had the correct expectations.  But, there are always so many more details than you originally imagine.  Especially when we decided to be a full time two car Team. Budgets, equipment, spares…..just so many items to deal with when you start a team from scratch.  But, I’ve been fortunate to hire some great people who are very experienced so that has definitely helped.  

I’m enjoying it.  It’s a challenge!  I like challenges.  Certainly more on my plate now, but I just work harder to balance it all!  It’s a tremendous opportunity that Patron has given me and I’m really excited about the opportunity with them and Ferrari.  I still plan to drive for quite a while longer so when I get to the track I’m really working to keep that hat on!!

Talk about the Ferraris if you will; are you finding the setups you like? Where they a good out-of-the-box race car or just a solid starting point?

The Ferrari has been fantastic!  From the first lap out of the pits at Fiorano, I was seriously impressed with the car.  Terrific handling!  Very well balanced.  Steve and Leigh, our engineers, have gotten their hands around the car quickly and we’re starting to make the changes we want.  The car comes with a great baseline setup which always helps!!!

Let’s face it, the American Le Mans GT division has suddenly become one of the most competitive forms of racing in the world. When you look at the depth and quality of competition… any number of teams are capable of having a good day, to-say-the-least. What have you set as realistic goals for 2010?

To be contenders in every race - that’s our goal.  I think, as a first year team, if we’re knocking on the door for Podiums consistently, eventually the wins will come and if we stay out of trouble and score points along that path, we’ll be contenders for the Championship.

With Patrón stepping up and becoming the Presenting sponsor for the American Le Mans Series, does that put more pressure on Extreme Speed to perform? And do you have any concerns with sponsorship/hospitality commitments taking time away from the team’s track preparation time?

I’m ecstatic that the experience Patrón has had in the ALMS over the last two years has prompted them to take a further role as the Presenting sponsor of the series. That says a lot about the direction that the ALMS is headed right now.  Patrón is a tremendous activator and Hospitality & entertainment plays a big role in that.  Between Patrón, themselves, and their fulfillment company, who do such a tremendous job with all of the Patrón guests, I don’t expect any of that to adversely effect the Team….quite the opposite - only make us stronger!!!

In order to find the optimum performance for the team and the cars, is the goal to get both cars set up identical or will each be sorted by individual driver input?

We will use the two-car approach to it’s fullest and try to learn as much as we can at every event.  Fortunately, all four of the drivers seem to like the car pretty close.  I’m sure there will always be subtle differences for small driving styes.

How do you see being a team owner effecting your race-day demeanor? Do you think you’ll be able to keep the “business” end of things outside of your helmet?

I’ve always been super competitive.  So, for me when I get to the track, it’s all about performance.  Spending time with the engineers and other drivers, going through data, that’s what I’ve done in the past and what I plan to do at the events.  The business side of the Team, that’s what we worry about during the week.

Thanks again, for taking time out of your schedule, Scott. These are exciting times for the ALMS and your efforts along with Tequila Patrón are a big part it. Hope we see you on the podium soon.

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