Continued from part 1
Q: Is he still involved in it?
PAUL NEWMAN: No. I think in spirit. I think he visits every once in a while.
SARAH GURTIS: He still comes out in the summers. There's a particular cancer session that he's very close to a lot of those kids. He tries to target that one each summer, and comes to at least one or two major fund-raisers for us a year and provides countless auction items. I think we're still very close to his heart.
Q: Sebastien, you're very experienced at Le Mans, kind of a student of that race. You've done a lot of long-distance racing. In looking at Daytona and the different challenge and the different issues that you're facing at Daytona, what do you look at for this race? What is going to be kind of the key issues, how to attack that race?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, you know, I don't exactly know what I'm going to see, but I've heard a lot about it. I was supposed to do it a couple of years ago. I know the main concern is always to try and keep your nose clean and to run freely in traffic, to have a really good car that goes wherever you want to go, especially around traffic.
You know, it's pretty much only very slow corners, but then the banking is giving you a completely different feeling. I'm very much looking forward to it. I think it's a very particular setup requested for that race, and that's what we're going to try and achieve.
Q: Mr. Newman, a lot of people in Australia think it's absolutely fascinating that you're still competing at this kind of level. How do you prepare mentally and physically for a race of this nature?
PAUL NEWMAN: I try to mentally move myself backward in time. Yesterday I spent a lot of time sucking my thumb trying to get back to my childhood. I'm starting to lie about my age, as you can see. The car says 79 on it. Next year it will be 78, then it will be 77, so...
I don't know. I may joke about it. I guess we all try to push the envelope as much as we can. Sometimes you make a mistake and we'll see whether this is a mistake or not.
Q: Calling from Surfers Paradise, a lot of our readers are Champ Car fans. Can you tell us a little about the split with the IRL in the mid '90s and how much damage that has caused to open-wheel racing in the States? Is it a case of you guys have potentially lost a generation of great drivers there?
PAUL NEWMAN: Obviously, it's has a terrible effect, this schism. But the fact is it exists, and the thing that I think we are in a better position to survive because we have something that the IRL doesn't have. We have the loyalty of the fans and we have a following, and I hope that will sustain us.
Q: Cristiano, can you tell us a bit about your time in F1 and how it all ended, and how do you rate the quality of people in F1 compared to Champ Car?
CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, for me it's hard to make a fair comparison because, obviously, my results in both series were very different. I would always tend to think that everything that happened in CART was much nicer and all the people I've met there were much nicer, too. So I'm a little bit suspicious to talk about those things.
I had obviously a hard time. Especially my first year was more or less what I expected from the team, from the car and from myself, finishing the championship where I finished, qualifying where I qualified, and the race results I had were pretty much what I expected.
What never happened was the step forward that I expected the team to make between the 2003 season to the 2004 season. We never made this step forward. We actually went backwards a little bit. So the second season was very difficult. Obviously, I only raced half of the second season. It was a difficult season from the word "go." Since the first time we put the car on the racetrack, the car was slow and we could never make it faster.
There were a lot of things going on inside the team. It looks like we were focusing on the wrong things because we never made the car any quicker the whole season long. If you look at the results from the beginning to the end, they are all the same type of results. There was no improvement.
I guess I didn't miss much at the last end of season two. But it was a positive experience in some areas, and in some other areas was a very difficult experience. But as a race car driver, I feel like I improved myself in the two years I was there. I got through to learn a different series. At the end of the day for my career, I think it was good. Doesn't mean that it was fun, but it was good.
Q: Mr. Newman, getting back to Daytona, did you find out the cause of the fire in testing?
PAUL NEWMAN: Well, it was a split in the membrane for the fuel --
MICHAEL BROCKMAN: Fuel pressure regulator.
PAUL NEWMAN: -- that was throwing some fuel into the engine, but a lot more onto the header. The thing caught fire. We decided it was time to quit smoking.
Q: Mr. Newman, I'm particularly interested in passion. Anybody who is good at anything cannot be good at that thing unless they have a passion for it. You have a passion for acting, a passion for racing, and a passion for creating these camps for kids battling serious illnesses. I'm interested in how different those passions are. In other words, what different parts of your being do those passions touch?
PAUL NEWMAN: Well, that is a fairly complicated question, but needless to say each passion feeds on the other one. The more passionate you become about racing, somehow the more passion you have available to do other things. At least that's the way it's worked for me.
Q: So they're all connected to one another in some unusual way?
PAUL NEWMAN: They feed on each other, yeah.
Q: Cristiano, can you review with us what your plans are for 2005?
CRISTIANO da MATTA: I'm planning to race in Champ Cars again. Obviously my main target is to try to race with Newman/Haas Racing, trying to put a deal together. We depend a little bit on some sponsorship deals that are still to be finalized. I'm anxiously waiting on these things to happen. I'm looking forward to be on the racetrack again with Champ Cars.
Q: Sebastien, did you have a chance to get a look at Autosport's "Top 50 drivers of 2004?"
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I didn't.
Q: Mr. Newman, did you see the Top 50 drivers of 2004?
PAUL NEWMAN: I have not, no. Did you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The thing I know is that we won the fan's vote, but we didn't make it with the journalists apparently.
Q: It seems you were the top-rated North American series driver at 13. It seems that perhaps they were not counting or giving a lot of credit to the American drivers or the American series drivers, I should say.
CRISTIANO da MATTA: What a surprise coming from the Europeans.
PAUL NEWMAN: Very well-stated, Cristiano.
Q: What are your comments to that way of thinking, seeing as you participated on both sides of the pond?
PAUL NEWMAN: Cristiano, that was a tidy remark.
Q: Anything you'd like to add? No mention of Paul Tracy. There's a whole number of dynamic drivers left off the list. That's just typical, you're saying that's to be expected?
PAUL NEWMAN: Well, it's a reciprocal trade agreement.
Q: Mr. Newman, can you share with us some of the strategy that goes on in a 24-hour event? Are there preferred shifts? If so, as team owner, do you get to pull rank and choose those preferred shifts?
PAUL NEWMAN: I get to log a sleeping shift. The rest of it will be up to the drivers.
Q: Typically when is a sleeping shift for you?
PAUL NEWMAN: Well, I try to get about 23, 23 and a half hours of sleep.
Q: Hopefully while you're not driving?
PAUL NEWMAN: No, I don't know. When we won back in '95, I think I drove four or five shifts. I don't know what I'll drive.
Q: Mike, are you maybe one of the lead people that decides these shifts and how they're apportioned or divided out?
MICHAEL BROCKMAN: Heck, no. It has a lot to do with weather, if we're going to double or triple stint. Every year we do this, it just really depends on the situation. You play it by ear. The other thing -- the most important thing is making it through the night and making sure when the sun comes up the wheels are all pointed in the same direction and you have all four fenders, then you think about racing and really going for it from that point forward.
You've just got to be careful and get through the night. When the sun comes up, you reassess your situation and go from there.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: What Mike is saying is if it depends on the weather. As I'm the frog, if it rains, it's for me.
MICHAEL BROCKMAN: There you go (laughter).
ADAM SAAL: No rain this year. We got it all out of our system last year where we had rain for about 18 hours of the Rolex 24. It was still a very exciting race.
Q: Mr. Newman, when it comes to charities like Camp Boggy Creek, the motorsport community really seems to rally around causes like this when you think of Kyle and Patty Petty and their Victory Junction Gang. Give us a couple words about how the motorsport community seems to rally around charities like this?
PAUL NEWMAN: Well, I don't know. I think you'd have to ask each group why they got connected and what the allure was. I just know that they've been very faithful and very generous and very active, and I'm happy about that.
Q: Cristiano, can you put a percentile figure on what you think your chances are to be back in Champ Car? A lot of fans especially in Canada would love to see you come back on. Is it 50/50? 60/40? I know some sponsorship has to be aligned for it to work to come back with Newman/Haas Racing.
CRISTIANO da MATTA: I think my chance to be back with Champ Cars is pretty high. What I'm not sure is where I'm going to be driving at. That's a slightly more difficult question. All these sponsorship deals, they depend on big companies, and sometimes the decision takes longer than we think it's going to take. Sometimes it's shorter than we think it's going to take. But the process is always complicated, so is difficult to judge.
But I'm pretty sure I'm going to be on the grid for next year. I'm for sure hoping -- I'm looking forward to be racing in Canada again.
Continued in part 3