CHAMPCAR/CART: Pre-San Jose teleconference, part 1

CHAMP CAR PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH PAUL TRACY, BOB SINGLETON AND KATHERINE LEGGE ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much for joining us on today's Champ Car media teleconference. We have a full roster of people for you to talk to and get a ...

CHAMP CAR PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH PAUL TRACY, BOB SINGLETON AND KATHERINE LEGGE

ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much for joining us on today's Champ Car media teleconference. We have a full roster of people for you to talk to and get a chance to meet today. These people are definitely people you have met before along the way. We wanted to get a chance for you to talk to them before we head into the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose, our second inaugural event here this year in the Champ Car World Series as we have reached the halfway point for both the Toyota Atlantic Championship and the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

We are joined today by the general manager of the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose, Mr. Bob Singleton, the man that most of you know from his many years in creating very successful Champ Car events in Canada. Mr. Singleton, thank you for joining us today.

BOB SINGLETON: Thank you for having me, Eric.

ERIC MAUK: We are joined by two-time Toyota Atlantic race winner here in 2005, driver for the Polestar Racing Group, Katherine Legge. Katherine, thank you for joining us.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Thank you

ERIC MAUK: We are also joined by the winningest active driver in all of American open-wheel racing, the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. Paul, thank you for joining us.

We'll start with Katherine. Katherine is taking some time off from a very busy day of testing out at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma to join us today. Coming off a big win in Edmonton, a win that you've been chasing very hard ever since getting that season-opening win in Long Beach. A tough race. You put on one of the great passes that we've seen in recent Toyota Atlantic competition in order to take the win away from Charles Zwolsman. Now that you've had a couple days to think about it, look back at that race, tell us how you feel about it.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah, I really haven't had too much time to think about it because I'm actually here in Infineon. I'm doing some work for Yokohama. I wish I was testing, but I'm actually working, earning some money so I can continue to live over here. Basically it was a fantastic weekend. You know, we had a really good car from the start, so it was just a matter of tweaking little bits here and there. You know, I really like the track. It's been a change of attitude for me, for sure, because after Long Beach and especially after Monterrey, Mexico, I kind of just got a bit down and a bit frustrated and didn't realize, you know, why I wasn't at the top of every time sheet.

I know that sounds arrogant or it might sound arrogant, but it's really not. It's just my lack of experience. I just didn't know what I was doing wrong. And it really is just all in my head. I know I have the talent. It's just trying to find strategies, you know, to get everything going in the right direction again. And it really started in Toronto. We were doing really well in Toronto until I got black-flagged for blocking. So hopefully, fingers crossed, I'm touching wood here as I speak, we've got it sorted and we should have a good finish to the season.

ERIC MAUK: After eight rounds, Katherine is fifth in the Atlantic Series title chase with 176 points, 40 behind series leader Charles Zwolsman, who she beat last weekend in Edmonton. Tell us a little bit about how you approach the final four races of the season.

KATHERINE LEGGE: I mean really, I'm not looking at the championship any more because we've had a couple of DNFs, unfortunately. Really it's been kind an up-and-down season for me. I'm just trying to gain experience. All I'm trying to do is take each race as it comes, learn the circuits because I'm going to be racing on them next year, and just really try and focus on consistency rather than outright wins or anything like that. I mean, obviously that's the goal. But really I just have to become more consistent. You know, work on the setup of the car, work on gaining the experience that I need to become a better driver, because at the moment it's just really up and down.

ERIC MAUK: I'm sure success will continue to come your way as we round out the 2005 season and beyond. Thank you for joining us today.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Paul Tracy, you finished on the podium in each race that you finished this year. Unfortunately, a couple of DNFs have you second place in the points, but just 21 points back. We still have seven races to go. Tell us a little about how you feel about how your season's gone and about the second half of the season.

PAUL TRACY: Well, I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. Obviously, you know, we get back to some traditional street tracks. Montreal is another track that is a permanent facility that isn't used. So it's more like a road course.

You know, the season's gone well. My qualifying average I think is the best in my career. I've only started one race in fifth, and the rest have been in the top three. So that's been exciting. And the team is doing a good job. We just had a couple of bad luck breaks come our way, and that's really hurt us in the points.

We're sitting second now, I think 20 or 21 out. We've just got to continue to keep trying to finish on the podium.

ERIC MAUK: Just 21 points out. Like you said, you're qualifying average 2.57, far and away leads the Champ Car World Series and is actually better than Sebastien Bourdais who led the series last year in qualifying average with the mark that was over 3. Qualifying has definitely helped your fortunes this year.

Coming off an incredibly successful event in Edmonton, you talked about it while we were up there, 200,000 people, people kept coming out no matter what was happening. We're heading to another event in San Jose which we expect to have an equally big strong event. Tell us a little bit about just what you see in the momentum and what Champ Car has been able to do here in the 2005 season.

PAUL TRACY: Well, obviously the series is building momentum. They've taken on new venues. With the Edmonton course, I mean, it took the guy a couple years to convince Champ Car to give him a shot. I mean, obviously they've done a great job there, a perfect job. It was just an incredible event for me because the amount of fan support that I had and the crowds around my truck and my pit, you know, looking through the grandstand, you could see there was a sea of blue shirts, Indeck, Forsythe shirts and hats. That was pretty cool.

I'm excited about San Jose. Obviously I've worked very closely with Bob over the years in Toronto. He's made that a marquee event in Toronto. I have some friends who live in the Bay Area, and they said the promotion is all over the place, they're hearing it on the news, hearing about it on the radio. Looks like it's going to be a big success for San Jose.

ERIC MAUK: Edmonton was one of those rare places that almost sounded like a NASCAR crowd when you made the pass of AJ on lap 19 and the crowd lit up when you took the lead. It's one of those things we don't get to hear often, but they definitely gave it up for you when you took the lead and followed you in pretty much everything you did that day. Best of luck. We will see you in San Jose.

I'd like to talk to Mr. Singleton. Bob, as we said before, you put together a number of great events in the past. Now you're taking on a new challenge starting from scratch there in San Jose. This race didn't even become official until January. Take us through a little bit of how you build an event to get to this point.

BOB SINGLETON: Well, you know, Eric, you'd always like to have 12 months to build a race, and we've had nine here, which is fine. I mean, you make that happen. We've had fun doing it. We're coming down the homestretch. Quite frankly, the staff's been great. We're excited. The city's been great. We're looking forward to welcoming you guys to this city.

ERIC MAUK: You guys have really stepped up the construction process here in a couple weeks. Tell us about progress on the track.

BOB SINGLETON: Sure. I mean, it's going along swimmingly now. Our grandstands are over 50% up. The guys are working ready. The suites are going up. We have about 50% to 60% of the track block down, the fence coming in behind it tomorrow. So everything is on track to be finished middle of next week so we can dot the I's and cross the T's and go racing.

ERIC MAUK: I want to tap into your previous life for a little expertise here. We were talking about the Edmonton event. You obviously know what it means to put on successful events in Canada. Looking at the Edmonton event, were you surprised how well that went?

BOB SINGLETON: No, I'm not surprised. I mean, Canada certainly gets and likes Champ Car, has been exposed to Champ Car for 20 years with Toronto. Edmonton is a debt-free province so obviously there are a lot of people out there that follow their events. Look at the Calgary Stampede. They support it. So I wasn't surprised at all.

You bring Champ Car to town, and the Edmonton people support it. I think it's fantastic. It's good for Champ Car. Congratulations to the guys in Edmonton.

ERIC MAUK: We're looking forward to another successful event in San Jose. We'll be out in San Jose July 29th through the 31st with race day on Sunday. We'll go ahead and take questions from the media now.

Q: Paul, with seven races left, is second place a good spot to be in?

PAUL TRACY: Well, obviously first would be better. You know, we've just got to work towards that and have some good luck. But, I mean, you know, we're at the halfway point. So much has happened in the first half that it should be an exciting second half.

Q: Going into San Jose, an inaugural event, what sort of challenges does that present a driver, not knowing what you're in for?

PAUL TRACY: I guess really the same kind of challenges leading into Edmonton. Obviously, you have a new venue that nobody's seen. You don't know what the surface is. You don't know what the texture of the surface is. You look at it on a map and it's really hard to get a read of what it actually is. I think a lot of people came to Edmonton and were a little bit caught off guard. We expected the track to be fast and challenging, but it was ultrafast and challenging.

Just got to expect -- you know, you never know what to expect. With the limited practice time that we have, hopefully we make the right decisions on setup and come off the truck with a good car.

Q: Paul, Eric mentioned there was a NASCAR-like crowd in Edmonton. What do you think it's going to take to take that crowd, which was huge, and turn them, the United States and Canada, into Champ Car fans where they tune in week in and week out to watch your races?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, I don't really know what -- how you mean it was a NASCAR crowd. I mean, looking at the crowd, it was definitely a blue-collar crowd. I mean, the guys were rugged guys, oil-field guys, you know, hard-working people. You could see that in the people there. Obviously, the weather is terrible there during the winter. So it's a little bit of a rough life there compared to living in the south, in the States, where you have nice weather.

When they have the opportunity to come out to see a Champ Car event, I mean, they're going to fully support it because there's just really not that much there to do. They don't have a lot of sports there. They have the hockey, with the Oilers, and the CFL team with the Eskimos. Really hockey hasn't been playing. We had tremendous fan support, which was great.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series Atlantic , IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Katherine Legge , Charles Zwolsman