By Greg Calnan / OntarioOval.com – Heading into his third full season of Late Model competition at Sunset Speedway, Sean Grosman has probably logged more miles getting to the track then actually going around it. The native of Toronto, Ontario has lived in Miami, Florida for the past 16 years and has spent the last three commuting back and forth on weekends to race in Innisfil. In 2012, the ‘Frequent Flyer’ will be behind the wheel of his own SMG Motorsports car for the first time after competing under the Stompin’ Tom Motorsports banner for his first two seasons. We took some time to speak with Sean about his travel schedule, his racing relationship with Stompin’ Tom Walters, his family life and more in this edition of ‘Question Session’.
Hometown: Grew up in Toronto, Live in Miami for the last 16 years
Birthdate: May 5, 1970
Career: Real Estate Investor/Developer
Years in racing: 21
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SMG-Motorsports/208295745862704
Having grown up in Toronto, what took you to Florida and what made you decide to race in Canada during the summer months?
Well about 16 years ago I decided to open an office in Florida due to the economy there, and the opportunities available. As far as the racing in Canada my wife and I own a summer home about 10 minutes from Sunset Speedway so after talking to a couple friends about maybe getting back into racing it seemed a perfect fit as far a convenience for me being that close to our vacation house. The racing also becomes great family time for all of us, being together somewhere other than home. The kids knew I raced for years before, and they all had interest in it so it seemed like a win win situation all around.
You’ve earned the nickname the ‘Frequent Flyer’ for the amount of miles you accumulate getting to the track from your home in Florida. What does your weekly schedule look like during the race season?
Well the toughest time is May and late August, and September because that time we are home still because the kids have school. So the commutes are tough. Usually I fly out of Miami on a Friday very late 9pm and arrive in Toronto by Midnight, and arrive at our house by 1am. Then I usually leave Sundays to head back to Miami unless we have a Sunday show in which case I leave very early 6am Monday so I am at work for 10am. It gets to be tough, but I really enjoy this and it’s a great stress reliever. During the summers it’s a bit easier as I try to spend extended time in Canada, which eases my schedule up a bit as far as the back and forths. You know your traveling a lot when the flight crews start to know you as they see you so often.
Looking back over the 2011 season were you pleased with your performance? What did you learn that you intend to build on for 2012?
It did feel like the sophomore blues. I was pleased with how my driving progressed as we were fast. We didn’t seem to get the luck we needed to win a feature. We won three heat races, including one at the invitational, but you always strive for the feature wins and they eluded me last year. We had multiple chances to win one, but various late race situations arose to keep us from a feature win. These races are so competitive that when you get away a bit, the last thing you want to see is a late race yellow to bunch up the field which seems to be how it played out for us. Moving into 2012 I think we take the things we learned as far as strategy, and some setup items and carry them into the new program. The car is brand new so it has a lot of new things we need to consider, but the basics remain the same.
How valuable is it as a driver to work with and share information with a proven winner and champion like Stompin’ Tom Walters?
Well I always say, I learned in 2 or 3 seasons more than most people might learn in 10. At the end of the day Tom is a multiple time champion with decades of years of experience. The biggest asset to me, is when I get out of the car and talk to him, he has an amazing ability to right away pin point a direction to go in because he has seen it multiple times before. Anytime you have the ability to take guess work out of the equation it can only be good. The second nice thing, is you always know on the track you have someone who is looking out for your back. Don’t get me wrong if were fighting for the lead I am sure I may feel a push or two, but its just hard racing, and nothing more than that. Its happened a couple times already, and afterwards we have a laugh and he will show me where I may have given him too much room or been doing something wrong.
The improvements at Sunset over the past couple of years has drawn some of the top talent in the province to the track. How tough is it every week to get to the front?
Its very tough. I have raced with lots of full time professional drivers over the years, and I have to tell you the talent pool if you look at some of the top runners at Sunset is incredible. To have won a feature there before you have to consider it a great accomplishment. There are easily 8 to 10 guys who on any given night could win. The spectators get their moneys worth I will tell you that. I tell people if you expect to win at Sunset there is no room for mistakes anymore.
You recently launched a new website and are a regular user of Twitter and Facebook. In this day and age, how valuable is a strong media presence for a team and its sponsors?
I have seen especially over the last couple years everyone is so tech savvy that its almost critical. The fans love it they build a rapport with the drivers online during the week, and come race day they carry that over to seeing the driver in person. We have gotten huge feedback the instant our site went live. (www.smgmotorsports.com) As far as sponsors, if you’re looking for sponsors or looking to retain the ones you have you almost have to have a strong tech presence or you are doing them an injustice. People these days get their first hit of information on a product, driver, event, etc usually from a digital outlet so if you want to have a strong presence you need to have a strong digital profile.
Looking ahead to 2012, what goals have you set for yourself and your team?
Number one is to have fun. At the end of the day these guys have full time jobs and do this in their off time mostly, so the fun factor has to be there. We also have a lot of money invested so I look at goals for our team as constant progression forward. I would like to see some feature wins this year, I know we can do it. I also push consistency because championships are won based on putting steady numbers up.
As a father of three children, have any of them shown an interest in racing or being involved in the sport?
My older son shows interest right now, he did some Kart racing before and likes it, and due to various other commitments we didn’t follow up on it. I think I will have to knuckle under shortly and put him in a car. My middle boy is a great baseball player, and athlete all around so he focuses on that mostly, but has a wild streak in him so I am sure the prodding will start soon. My little one we will have to wait right now. He just likes hanging out with his Mom and Dad, uncle and Aunt and cousins at the track.
Photos by Eric Uprichard / www.SpeedwayPhoto.ca
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