Catching up with Carl Mukilteo, Washington (October 17, 2007) -- 2008 will see Washington-native Carl Skerlong fight for the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, the 19-year-old confirming earlier this month that he'll return to the series for...
Catching up with Carl
Mukilteo, Washington (October 17, 2007) -- 2008 will see Washington-native Carl Skerlong fight for the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, the 19-year-old confirming earlier this month that he'll return to the series for his sophomore season with the US RaceTronics team. While the start of the 2008 season remains a long way off we took time out to catch up with Carl to find out what he's currently up to as well as his thoughts on some of the key issues facing the Champ Car World Series.
Carl on securing his US RaceTronics deal so early in the post-season:
It's definitely an advantage getting the deal done early. It's one less thing for me to worry about. I know for definite where I'm going to be racing so I can start looking ahead to testing. It affords me the time to concentrate on things like working towards being in the best shape I've ever been in and prepare myself for driving the car and not for having to spend a few more months working on finding a ride for the following season.
Carl on being a member of the Pacific Coast Motorsports Junior Team:
Well it's great that your potential's recognized, not least as it was my first season in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship this year. We've had a good relationship with Pacific Coast Motorsports and it's been great for me to get the insight and exposure into a Champ Car team while still competing in the official feeder series. Shane (Seneviratne) and Tyler (Tadevic) have known each other for a long time which helps and they've both been focused on strengthening their programs to be the best out there. This deal works two-ways and we've all reaped benefits.
Carl on the prospect of testing a Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car:
I spoke with Tyler Tadevic at Pacific Coast Motorsports recently and my Champ Car test has been planned. We're looking at a test date at the end of November for my first try-out in the Champ Car, most likely at Buttonwillow Raceway in California. I'm scheduled to run for 150 miles which is a good amount and I think I'll get a shot running both the short and long track at Buttonwillow.
Carl on life away from the race track:
Well I'm currently enjoying 'dorm-life' having enrolled at Western Washington University. I wanted to keep myself busy since I've stopped racing for the year so I'm doing some general courses in the likes of Geology, Astronomy and Math -- all the simple topics!
Carl on the Champ Car World Series:
I think it's been a good season for Champ Car considering there's been a lot of new things introduced. There's been the new car, there have been some new team owners and drivers this year and obviously they've introduced some new venues such as the European races.
Carl on Champ Car in Europe:
I definitely think it was a good thing going to Europe and they put on a great show there as well which was massively important. I went to Belgium for the first race and I was very impressed with how the fans took to the racing. The fans there definitely have a passion for this kind of motorsport but I think they were surprised at just how much passing there was in Champ Car compared to Formula One. The Champ Car guys put on a good show with lots of sideways action and the fans got to witness some actual driver control behind the wheel and not just an electronically aided driver show.
Carl on Champ Car's Driver Line-up:
A few people have stood out but overall I'm surprised at just how mixed up the field's been from race to race. It's been good to see people giving Sebastien Bourdais a run for his money this season. Obviously Graham's (Rahal) done well in his rookie season but then I guess you also have to take into account the fact that he's driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan! The guys I've spoken to in the field all say it's an achievement in itself matching their cars on pace so the fact that people have been doing it this year speaks volumes as to just how competitive this season's been.
Carl on the European influx of drivers into Atlantics and Champ Car competition:
I welcome them as it further underlines that both series are attractive to drivers looking to prove themselves. We have world-class open-wheel racing here in North America but Europe has always been regarded as the pinnacle. I had a great time over there at the end of last season and because I was competitive there it really helped boost my confidence. Anything that helps improve the quality of racing should always be welcomed!
Carl on the impact of Sebastien Bourdais' move to Formula One:
Well I'm not too sure how that's going to play out at the moment. I think it's either going to improve perceptions on the level of competition in Champ Car or potentially hurt its reputation. If Sebastien goes over to F1 and shows that the pedigree of racing in Champ Car is above people's expectations, by performing well, then that's great. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not expecting him to go over there and start winning races because it's important to remember he's racing a Torro Rosso and not a McLaren or a Ferrari.
If he can go to Formula One and be the fastest of the four Red Bull cars then it'll benefit how people view Champ Car. Of course the risk is that if he isn't then people will say that Champ Car doesn't offer the same platform of competition that some other European-based series do in terms of preparing a driver for Formula One.