CHAMPCAR/CART: Pre-San Jose teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: I'm not calling them a NASCAR crowd disparagingly. I'm just saying the fan reaction is what Eric was referring to. Do you have any ideas on how Champ Car could convert some of these fans who are there to watch...

Continued from part 1

Q: I'm not calling them a NASCAR crowd disparagingly. I'm just saying the fan reaction is what Eric was referring to. Do you have any ideas on how Champ Car could convert some of these fans who are there to watch a great race into sticking around?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I think they are going to stick around. Obviously, the people in that area have never been exposed to Champ Cars. I would probably say a large majority of the people, it was their first event. I think once you've come and seen one of our events, it was a great race, no doubt about it. It was a great race, a fast track, you could see the whole track. Once you've been once, you're a fan. I don't think anybody left there saying, "I'll never come back again."

Q: Katherine, could you talk about what your short-term goals look like in the second half of the season, you've won a couple races, then talk about what you think the future looks like.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Well, I mean, my short-term goals for the rest of the season are, like I said before, just to be consistent and to get a few more wins and just to learn as much as I can. Everybody seems to be under the impression that I'm going to Champ Car next year, and it's really not the case. I'm not going to get there just because I'm a girl. I have to get there because I'm a really good driver. At the moment, I don't have the experience and the talent to get me there. When I get there, I don't want to be driving around at the back learning for another year. I'd rather do another year in Atlantics, really win a championship before going into that, if I do, indeed, get the opportunity. It's not written down that I definitely will.

I mean, hopefully I will because I honestly believe that it's the best form of open-wheel racing in the United States for sure, and one of the best in the world. But I really feel like I'm learning a lot right now in Atlantics. I don't want to run before I can walk.

Q: Paul, would you weigh in on that, whether you think the Atlantics, a second season in Atlantics -- I'm not asking you to map out her career, but a second season versus a new season in Champ Car?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, it really comes down to how her team feels. Obviously, Katherine's doing a good job this year. She won her first race. I watched the race that she had on Sunday. It was a very exciting race. She was trying and trying, being very aggressive. But it's really the team's decision, whether they feel she's ready. Obviously, she's saying she doesn't feel she's ready yet, so I guess to stay another year and learn all the tracks really well and understand the system and be winning consistently week in, week out, that will probably help.

Q: Katherine, I just basically wanted to follow up on what was just said. Do you have actually a definite arrangement for next year in place to return to Atlantics or is everything still a bit up in the air?

KATHERINE LEGGE: No, absolutely not. I mean, everything's still really up in the air. If I won every race from now till the end of the year, who knows what would happen. I really can't say right now. I need to find some sponsors, which I'm not having much luck at at the moment. I really don't know. I really can't answer what I'm going to be doing yet because at the moment we're so focused on getting this year out of the way, that until we get to Montreal at the end of the year and we think about what we're going to do next year.

I mean, I'm hoping if I do Atlantics again next year, I can do a lot of pre-season testing because we're not sure what's happening with the cars and different engines and things. We're not sure whether they're going to bring it in with the Champ Car changes, which are due in 2007. It seems to be an awkward time to be moving around right now.

Q: Is all of the publicity being given to another woman driver in the States right now helping or hindering you?

KATHERINE LEGGE: It's really not affecting me at all, you know, apart from the press trying to make it into something that it's really not, it's having no effect. You know, Danica is just going down a completely different route to the route I'm going down. I think she's a really good driver and I really genuinely wish her well. If we were in the same series, I could understand the deal that's being made out of it, but we're really not.

I think the most important thing is we want to be seen as drivers. We're not terribly keen on being seen as female drivers. Obviously, we wouldn't change the fact that we're female, but I think the most important thing to us is that we're seen as competitive.

Q: Paul, being that you are 21 points behind the defending champion, how do you see you can catch up and win in the next few races?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I think it really just comes down to just beating him. I mean, you know, in just about every race this year we've been ahead of him at some point of the race. With two races that we didn't finish in Mexico and Toronto, I mean, in both instances when we had our problems, we were leading the race. If we had capitalized on that day, whether it would be in Toronto or Mexico, you're looking at 50 to 60 points right there that we lost, compared to he's finished every race in the top five, and I finished every race on the podium but two.

We've been in a winning situation at every race, so I guess we've just got to have some good luck and continue to run ahead of him and not have any problems.

Q: Katherine, now that you talk about racing and wins, you are 2-0 with Danica. But let's forget about that. We would like to know your impressions of your life. You're settled in another country.

KATHERINE LEGGE: My life at the moment, I pinch myself every day because I've just been given this fantastic opportunity and it's just really good to be here. Millions of people would kill to be in the position I'm in right now.

I am just having fun with it. You know, I think I got a bit serious a while back and was probably too self-critical in a way. I've pulled myself out of that with a lot of help from the people who are surrounding me, who are really fantastic people. I mean, without them, I wouldn't be where I am right now. The team have just been phenomenal, they really have.

You know, I'm getting to see America. I've never been to the States before. Coming over here, learning the accent so people actually understand what I'm saying (laughter). I'm just getting to travel around and race a car which is, you know, my ultimate dream and goal. It's just great for me.

Q: You get the Ohio accent?

KATHERINE LEGGE: No. The thing is when you say things in English like "water," they say, "I'm sorry, ma'am, we don't sell that here."

PAUL TRACY: Lino has been in America for 20 years and nobody can understand him (laughter).

Q: Bob, is it true that the poor press in San Jose will have a lot of miles to go to the press room?

BOB SINGLETON: No, the press room is on the inside of the racetrack, right in the convention center, not unlike it was in Vancouver. And quite frankly like it is with Toronto with the automotive building. No, you won't have a long way to go at all.

Q: Another 10 for you.

BOB SINGLETON: I just wanted to make sure you were taken care of, so I moved it closer.

Q: Thank you.

BOB SINGLETON: You're very welcome.

Q: Paul, it seems like you're much calmer this year, but just as aggressive on the track. I don't see that your age at all shows any slowdown in your ability on the racetrack. I just wanted to ask you to speak toward your future, if you'd like to be in Champ Car again next year and beyond. I don't know what your arrangement is with Forsythe Racing. I think you're pretty happy there. Maybe you could talk about that.

PAUL TRACY: Well, I am pretty happy at Forsythe. I haven't made any decisions on what I'm going to be doing in the future. My focus right now is obviously to win the championship. From there I'll just see in the next little while here, Gerry and I will sit down and talk about what our future is together, kind of go from there. I haven't really made any decisions on what I want to do yet.

Q: Would you like to race another season in Champ Car or you're just undecided?

PAUL TRACY: You know, I'm just concentrating right now on this. Obviously, I would like to race another season. I want to race whatever I can. If that's Champ Car, anything else, then that's what I want to do, is continue to keep racing.

Q: Bob, how are the sales going, if you can give us a quick update?

BOB SINGLETON: Our sales are really starting to peak. We've got about five of our silver grandstands, although some are big, some are small, sold out. We still have some silver grandstands, not some gold. It's my guess being around here for 10, 12 years in the business we'll sell out all of the grandstands here in San Jose and have a huge general admission crowd. So we're excited and looking forward to a great weekend.

Q: Katherine, has competition in the United States been different from what you expected, having come from the UK and European types of racing? Is it more or less competitive than you expected it to be?

KATHERINE LEGGE: I think it's probably more competitive than I expected it to be in a way. Even though the strength and depth isn't there, there's probably six or seven really good drivers who would win or be up front in think championship they chose to do. We have Charles Zwolsman, who was on the podium a few times in European F-3. That's probably the strongest series in Europe.

I don't think you can say anything about the standard of driving over here is any worse than anywhere else. I mean, I think it's really good. Obviously, we haven't got grids of 25, 30 excellent drivers, but we're working on it, and I really expect there will be. But we have six or seven really, really talented guys out there. It's just as tough to win over here as it is back home.

Q: It's tough to win anywhere, I think.

KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah, you're right.

Q: You're obviously enjoying this. It's been frustrating for you not doing as well as you expected. How do you personally cope with that?

KATHERINE LEGGE: I mean, to be honest, I wasn't personally coping too well. It was really hard because I never have done a full season in anything before. I'm on about my 23rd car race, I think. I've never had the mentality of doing a season. I've always had one-off races here and there, bits and pieces. To be able to think in the long-term was a real struggle for me.

But I think I was thinking about it wrong. Really, if you take care of each race at a time, then the championship takes care of itself. But I wasn't really -- I just didn't know which direction to think in, if you like. It was hard. I got some really good advice. I seem to be back on track. I was driving too consciously, like I was consciously trying to drive as fast as I could and it didn't work for me. You have to chill out, realize you haven't forgotten how to drive. For a minute back there, I was like, "Wow, have I forgotten how to drive? Am I really not very good?" You just have to have self-belief to go, "I'm going to go out there and drive like I've always driven." It kind of works for me that way.

ERIC MAUK: We'll bring our teleconference to an end. Thanks to Bob Singleton, Paul Tracy and Katherine Legge for joining us today. Best of luck to all of you on your endeavors as we head into San Jose.

-ccws-

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