CHAMPCAR/CART: Legge, Kalkhoven teleconference 2006-02-15, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: I was just going to ask Katherine during the season last year, you said you were pretty much convinced that you would need another year in Atlantic; did they have to convince you? KATHERINE LEGGE: No. I think...

Continued from part 1

Q: I was just going to ask Katherine during the season last year, you said you were pretty much convinced that you would need another year in Atlantic; did they have to convince you?

KATHERINE LEGGE: No. I think last year I was convinced I needed another year in Atlantics, and then I drove the car and everything changed.

I have changed my opinion completely. I think -- I thought I needed another year in Atlantics because I thought I needed more experience before I moved into the cars, but everything is a long-term thing. It's not a short-term thing. It's not about 2006. Obviously I have to do well in 2006 in order to move into 2007, but how you define well is not necessarily winning races and dominating or anything like that. It's just being consistent, learning, improving, etc., etc. So I drove the car the first time and I thought, wow, these cars are brutal, I don't know whether I'll be able to do this.

And then I drove the car again, and I thought, this is fun, this is much easier than it was last time. I drove the car for the third time and I'm like, bring it on, I can do this, no problem at all, it's the best thing for me to do. I, of courseb^0x0011- of course I want to drive the big car. I'm partly eager, partly because it's so -- I mean, it's an awesome car to drive. It's great fun, it's a driver's car. It's a massive challenge. I'm one of those people who always challenges myself. I will push myself to the limit and it's a big step.

My lack of experience will go against me in some ways, I'm not sure how yet but it will this year. I just have to make sure that I learn quickly and I make as few mistakes possible and I learning from my mistakes. As long as I'm learning from my mistakes, I'm happy. I think everybody changes your opinion, everybody was of the mindset that I would do another year in Atlantics and then I think we realized that I'm ready and maybe I'm not ready experience-wise, but I'm ready speed-wise and I will do the very best job I can and I think that will prepare us for 2007 and beyond, better. It's all about moving myself forward, it's about moving the team forward and it's about a continual process that is not a short-term thing.

Q: How much did what you did in the off-season in terms of you did a Minardi test and you drove A1GP, did that also convince you that you would be ready to make a jump?

KATHERINE LEGGE: No, that had no influence on it at all. I enjoyed driving both. It was a great honor to be given the opportunity to drive both. And it was an experience. And every experience you get in the cockpit of a race car makes you a better driver, I firmly believe that. It had no bearing on whether or not I wanted to do Champ Car. Again, it was just another experience that made me a better driver.

Q: When you saw Katherine grow last year in the Atlantic Series, how proud were you then and then the test that she had at this year that proved that she could drive a Champ Car? Again, how proud are you that you gave her the shot and it looks like it's working out?

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Well, first of all from the time that I first saw Katherine, when I told my daughter to go get rid of her because I didn't want to spend my time with her at all, to where we are, as been a fascinating journey. (Laughing). It's a story all of its own.

Pride, of course; concern, of course, and it's just another milestone, but there's a steeper hill ahead. We have to wait and see how Katherine does with that. We obviously have had some degree of confidence.

Again, this wasn't a decision that I made. This was a decision that the team made. It was the engineers. It was Jim McGee, it was Jimmy Vasser, all of whom took a collective vote on this to ensure that we had unanimity of thought.

Pride, certainly, collective agreement that the time was right for Katherine, and not just my pushing it on the team. But as we looked forward, a recognition that there's a very significant mountain of experience that we've got to climb ahead and obviously I'll be there to support Katherine. But when you're in the race car, you're on your own and I'll be sitting on the sidelines watching, but it's down to her.

Q: Before Christmas, we talked with Jimmy Vasser and you just got the inclination that he was resigned to the fact that he was going to step out of the seat. What is that situation now?

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Well, Jimmy has indicated that that's what he wants to do, and I have to say that that's not necessarily what I want him to do. I would obviously be thrilled if he stayed on another year.

But everyone, every athlete makes their decision about when is the right time, and I know that he does it with regret and with a great deal of pride and his accomplishments in the past. So as a friend and as a partner, I will respect whatever decision he makes.

Q: I have a question regarding the fitness program for Katherine. If you could go into more detail; 18,000 calories a week is a lot.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah, I don't know how Kevin knows this stuff. (Laughter) I'm working with a team called Pit Fit in Indianapolis. They are awesome. They are getting me fit and ready and I've been on this program for maybe three weeks now and it's already made a massive difference. I am in the gym twice a day, I'm doing lots of different stuff. I'm doing weight training, I'm doing cardio, I'm doing interval training, I'm taking climbing, I'm doing swimming. It's all-encompassing and it's great fun. I'm having an absolute ball doing it. I'm really, really enjoying it.

I'm seeing a difference, which is most important thing, after such a short period of time. And like Kevin said, I did the race distance and I got out of the car and it was almost, not fresh as a daisy, but it was almost like that. I know now if I was to do that again tomorrow, I'd be able to push 100% and get out of the car at the end and think, well, that was fine, that was good, and that's really all thanks to the guys at Pit Fit and Jim Leo for coming up with this program and helping me through it. They are there every step of the way to give encouragement and telling me what I need to do and how I need to do it, and I'm very grateful to them for that.

Q: I remember talking to you after you won the race in Edmonton and I asked you a question about the comparisons to Danica Patrick with IRL, and you handled it very well, by the way, just saying, 'you know what, she does what she does, I do what I do.' But now that you're in a major, major racing series in Champ Car World Series, I would imagine that the comparisons are going to crop up once again. How prepared are you to deal with the comparisons to Danica Patrick?

KATHERINE LEGGE: You know, she does what she does and I do what I do. That is it. I think she's doing a great job in the IRL. But it's a different series. It's not Champ Car. I need to worry about beating Sebastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy, these guys. Maybe one day we'll get to race against each other; I really hope that happens and we can put all this to rest. But really the only thing that we have in common is the fact that we are both female. Like I say, I'm focused on who I need to beat, not somebody from a different series.

Q: And how key is it that you go to a team like PKV, established and have the means, maybe in comparison to an Andrew Ranger who started out with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing which hasn't won in the series, is it that important to you and is that a factor in your decision that you're going to a really established team?

KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah, absolutely. I think Andrew had a good team as well. I have a lot of respect for Mi-Jack Conquest, also, but I don't know where you got that one from, but PKV are awesome. Everybody has been really, really professional, helpful and I couldn't have asked for more. I've made some great friends in a very short space of time and they are very behind me. They are 110% behind me and I'm grateful for that and I have a lot of faith in what they are doing. I've been in the shop every day and I've seen the development of the team and I obviously believe that it's one of the best, if not the best team, on the paddock now. I'm very proud to be part of that.

Q: I initially wanted to ask about, it sounded like when Kevin talked about your training regimen and so forth and the rigorous work out that they put you threw before they hired you, it sounded like maybe they were still comparing 2006 and still trying to draw a comparison between what women do and what men do. And I wondered if there was any frustration on your part but listening to you talk here, it sounds like maybe you wanted to test yourself a little bit to find out if you were prepared to make that step into the car and to race against men.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Absolutely, I think it's only fair that they find out what women are capable of because nobody has done it in the past. There have been no successful female racing drivers. There have been some that have showed potential and promise just as I show right now. There have been no Champ Car champions. There have been none racing right at the forefront, and I think that was very important. I think fitness comes into it. These cars are brutal to drive. They are incredibly difficult, and if I wasn't in the gym twice a day, would I be able to do a race distance as well as the guys? Probably not. I have to work a lot harder at it, but that's part of being female, and I get benefits in other ways.

I think they had every right to wonder whether I could do it or not, and I honestly didn't know whether I could do it or not either until you put yourself in that situation, you can't presume. Presuming doesn't get you anywhere; you need to have facts.

So I thought the team were a bit hard making me do a race distance straight off the bat, I thought, wow, that's a bit mean, but actually, it was the best thing they could have done for me and they know best, and I really do believe that. They have so much experience in these things that they know what's best for me and what's best for the team. I learned so much about myself, my weakness, my strengths, my driving, the car; it was phenomenal. Over those two days I learned more than I have learned in my life before. So it was an extremely valuable experience and I guess you have a gut feeling before you do it whether you could do it or not. I'm one of the things that think I can do it because I won't be beaten by it. I thought I could do it but it's nice, like I say to, have fact and actually do it.

Q: When you look at the starting grid in a Champ Car race and the people you'll be competing against, do you kind of pick out one or two to say, "I'm already more prepared because of this fitness regimen, I'm already more prepared than you are?"

KATHERINE LEGGE: No, I don't look at it like that. I don't know who is prepared and who is not, really. I guess we'll find out when we get to Long Beach. I have to work hard to get to their natural level of fitness. So if I was in the gym once every day, I would probably be at the same level as somebody who never went to the gym. It's a lot harder to push myself to the level of what they are doing if they are working really hard at it.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is I will do everything in my power to do what is required of me and more to be able to eliminate that from anybody's thinking. And if everybody else is doing that, then great and if they are not, then no worries, but I will make myself the fittest and the best I can be.

Q: Finally, it sounds like you your first competitor is going to be sitting in the cockpit of your car and not necessarily the other people that are on the racetrack with you.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Right. You can only do your best, right and I fully intend to do my best. I know that I have the potential to do it. I just need to make the most of that potential. I honestly believe that I can do it otherwise I would be banging my head against a brick wall and I would not be trying. I just have to keep my head down and work really hard and help myself to it.

Q: I'd like to ask the question to find out who the driver is, and I don't really know who you are yet, but sometimes when I ask the driver, what's your favorite music, what's the music in your iPod that gives me a little background on who you are.

KATHERINE LEGGE: I have everything. I really don't have any one band or anything like that, that I that I, that's my kind of music, I'm not massively rock and roll or rap or anything like that. It depends what wind of a mood I'm in. I like anything and everything, sometimes I like other things more than others, and like I said it depends on what mood I'm in. I really like U2 and things like that.

Q: Are British bands more to your liking?

KATHERINE LEGGE: Not really, no. I'm not like massively supportive of Oasis and Blur and people like that because they are British. I think of course England has very good music. But actually, the Americans are the leaders in the music world and like I said, I listen to anything.

Q: What was the music that got you ready for that big test in Sebring?

KATHERINE LEGGE: I don't remember, I think Frank Montagny and I were driving down to Sebring, and I think he was in control of driving and choosing the music on the way down there. And we kept flicking and finding songs and flick over to another radio station. Like I said, it's nothing in particular.

Q: Does music get you jazzed up for a race or do you like to just go somewhere and shut everything off and get Katherine Legge into the so-called zone?

KATHERINE LEGGE: Go somewhere and shut everything off. I'm not -- I listen to music when I'm training and when I'm at home and occasionally, but really when I'm on the racetrack, it's all about quiet time in your head and just clear everything else out so that you can get on that trance.

MERRILL CAIN: We want to take our time to thank everyone for participating in the phone call today. I know that both Kevin and Katherine have a very big day ahead of them today. Congratulations on a very successful evening last night to both Kevin and Katherine and we look forward to great things for the upcoming Champ Car season. Congratulations, again, Katherine and Kevin.

KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Thank you all for being on the call.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series Atlantic , IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Katherine Legge , Andrew Ranger , Danica Patrick
Teams Conquest Racing