How Multimatic’s Larry Holt is disrupting sportscar racing

Hardcore sports car racing fans know the name Multimatic. And any who don’t know the name, still know the Canadian company’s work. They create and/or compete with some of the most successful racecars in endurance racing and supply others with state-of-the-art dampers, engineering and consultation. The company is behind the Ford GT road and GTE/GTLM racecars, the Mazda RT24-P that had success in the DPi era in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, along with the Mercedes AMG One hyper road car and many others.

A chunk of the field in the next WeatherTech Championship race, the Motul Course de Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, are Multimatic creations. Multimatic builds the backbone of the Porsche 936 LMDh car, representing four of 10 GTP entries. The company is also the designer and builder of the new Ford Mustang GT3, which will have two GTD PRO entries from Ford Multimatic Motorsports and one GTD entry from Proton Competition, which also runs the cars in the World Endurance Championship. Then there are the Mustang GT4s in Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The mad scientist behind much of this is Larry Holt. One of the more recognizable and affable people in the IMSA paddock, he is Multimatic’s executive vice president of Special Vehicle Operations – you know, the cool toys department. While Holt’s colorful language isn’t rated G, he spins a good yarn and has a lot of stories to tell. RACER caught up with him in January on the eve of the Mustang GT3’s competition debut to talk about that and the other things Multimatic is involved in. We talked racing, but if you’d like to hear more about the man, the Dinner with Racers episode with Holt is not to be missed.


With all that Multimatic has accomplished for its clients in recent years, it would be easy to gloat a bit and pat oneself on the back. Holt says, though, that that’s not him. He’s not a self-congratulatory kind of personality. But…

“Is it satisfying to do? Yes,” he says. “Am I reflecting on it yet? No. I’m not going to reflect on anything. We’ve just got to keep the level of intensity up. I’ve done it enough now, it’s like a sports team – to get great things, you’ve got to be slightly uncomfortable. I’m a huge fan of Enzo Ferrari. I’m not a precise technician; I have some good ideas sometimes, but I never fully execute them because of ADD. Ferrari said that he wasn’t an engineer, he was a disrupter of men. So I keep disrupting, and keep keeping things going. We’ve got a lot of programs – the [Mustang] GTD car from the GT3 car, that’s what I’m doing now. So I’m not reflecting, I’m just continuing to disrupt our engineering team. I let ’em sleep, but I don’t let ’em rest. I don’t really bring much more than that to it.”

The Mustang GT3 has had a rough start, as most new racecars do. And while Multimatic has a lot of experience building racecars, there’s been a big difference in developing the Ford GT into a car capable of winning IMSA championships and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and building a GT3 car out of the Mustang. For one, Multimatic had a hand in the GT from the beginning, and designed a road car with a racecar in mind. In addition, the aims of GTE and GT3 were rather different ideas.

“Totally different,” Holt says. “Not like a little bit, but completely different. And, I think, in a good way and the outcome proves it. The GT3 car is robust, easy to drive for the non-professional. It’s just a great product and it’s ended up being exactly what the sanctioning bodies want it to be. The GTE car was #&@$!%& hard to drive. They were on edge.”

“I’m not reflecting, I’m just continuing to disrupt our engineering team. I let ’em sleep, but I don’t let ’em rest,” says Holt (center) of Multimatic’s long list of accomplishments. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

But while Multimatic designed the GT with small frontal area and cool stuff like pushrod and torsion bar suspension, ultimately sanctioning bodies were going to try to equalize the Ford’s performance with a BMW M8. “So I built a racecar off of something as big as my house, because that makes it easier to drive and easier to deal with,” he says of the next project, the GT3 car.

The Mustang GT3, of course, had different goals. So Multimatic over-achieved on aerodynamics then pulled it back to make it less sensitive to pitch. They added front and rear subframes instead of the stock frame rails to make crash damage easier for teams to repair. The primary goal for a GT3 car is to make everything easier for both the amateur driver and non-factory teams. A GTE car is faster, but it takes a pro driver to extract that lap time.

“The difference in a Pro and an Am in a GTE car would be three seconds. And in the Mustang, it’s like eight tenths,” he says. “So, Harry Tincknell and a competent Bronze, it’s going to be less than a second, where in the old days, that’d be three or four seconds. That’s what they want. And so the approach is completely different. You’re trying to make an easy-to-drive, benign car, because you have the headroom. You know what our performance is going to be, so you overachieve in aspects, and you dumb it down by making it easier to drive.”

Like Chevrolet did by engaging car builder Pratt Miller to run the Corvette ZO6 GT3.R in GTD PRO, Ford Multimatic Motorsports is the entity running the Mustang GT3 in IMSA GTD PRO competition. Holt makes no bones about the fact that he believes that having the same people that build the car, then race it, is an advantage. But he also knows that Proton Competition has to win in IMSA and WEC or the program isn’t successful. Sure, he wants Multimatic to win races; but more importantly he wants the Mustang GT3 to win races.

“The definition of success for me would be to see these customers win,” he says. “Having Chris Ried and his Proton team win. Us winning some races here, but customers actually achieving what I put all that effort into, which is to build a successful customer car. So success would be have all these customers winning all over the world.”

The focus changes when he’s on the pit stand calling strategy. Holt is a racer at heart, and that’s where he loves to be. He spent the days in Daytona for the Roar and Rolex staying in his converted 1973 GMC bus at the track. And if forced to choose engineering, building cars, or racing, he confesses that it would probably be the latter.

“That answer would be different through different phases of my life. At this point, I think I’d just go race,” he says. “I go race and I’m a racer. I’m a technical guy. I’m an engineer. Right now I’ve got my fingers in all the pies. I started working on a jack program, did door hinges, and for a long time I gave up racing to get in the business. But if you’re asking me to pick, out of all the things I do, I go race. I run a race team. I love it.”

Fortunately at this point he doesn’t have to make that choice, and automotive and racing worlds will be better because of it.

Story originally appeared on Racer