Newman, Camp Boggy Creek transcript, part 3

Continued from part 2 Q: I have to ask you this question, but when you were on Raceline Radio before many times we talked about the special lucky socks that you used to wear. They were cycling socks that I think a fan in Vancouver gave you.

Continued from part 2

Q: I have to ask you this question, but when you were on Raceline Radio before many times we talked about the special lucky socks that you used to wear. They were cycling socks that I think a fan in Vancouver gave you. It seemed to bring you a lot of good luck. I don't know whether those socks are still wearable or not but would you use those in the Rolex 24?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, that's a good reminder. I'll make sure I pack them up. They're not in pretty good shape any more as they were in 2002, but I'll see what they can do.

Q: Mr. Newman, you are in a very unique position. You've raced at 24-hour in the heydays of the Porsche 962s and some less days at the 24-hour. It's been talked about as being one of the return-to-the-heyday with the rise of the Daytona Prototype cars. Can you give some idea to us as to where this stands? Is the race coming back to assume some glory that's been lost recently?

PAUL NEWMAN: Well, I'll tell you, it's certainly getting a lot of support. It's just kind of like if you have a very good movie but you're not really sure whether the people are going to go and see it.

They've certainly got an extraordinary grid of drivers this year, and I think that's going to increase the interest in the actual race. We'll just have to see how it plays itself out. I'm very encouraged by it, though.

Q: Is it the drivers, like the NASCAR drivers, the open-wheel drivers like Sebastien and Cristiano coming in, is that what is going to bring the race back or bring attention to it, or is it the racing that has to be on the track to bring fans and maybe put people in the seats?

PAUL NEWMAN: I think it's a combination of both. Certainly having a high-visibility group of drivers down there doesn't hurt. We'll just have to see how it plays itself out.

Q: Do you enjoy having some of the NASCAR guys, racing wheel-to-wheel with them? Do they show the skill to turn left and right that might be dismissed by fans in the seats?

PAUL NEWMAN: Hey, they're great racers, all of them. They do extraordinarily well on road circuits. Look at Watkins Glen and Sears Point. It's just great to have them there, that's all.

Q: Cristiano, what do you think, as you get your head around going racing, last year some of the drivers that had never driven with roofs over their heads had some anxiety. Do you have any of that kind of anxiety or are you just anxiously looking to get behind the wheel again?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, I'm definitely, first thing, excited to get back behind the wheel. I'm a little bit anxious obviously to drive the car for the first time because I still haven't had a chance to give our Crawford Ford a try. But that's going to happen I believe beginning of next week before we go to the actual first practice in Daytona. By the time I get there, I think I'm going to be finally all right with the car and I'm going to know a lot more about what's going to be going on during the race.

But right now I have many, many thoughts, lots of question marks in my head. I think those are only going to go away after I have at least one day in the car.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your experience at F1. It's getting ready to be torn apart potentially in the next year or so by divisions, not the same as CART and IRL, but still something that might split the thing apart. Is that something that is inevitable or is it something that could be avoided, to have maybe the premiere racing series in the world damaged by these backroom politics?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, I think the politics that happen over there are way too complex for me to understand. All I can hope is that they keep together because all the history as we've had of racing series splitting in two, it's quite obvious that is not good for any of the two parts. So I hope they can still, I mean, keep the whole thing together, keep Formula 1 Formula 1 because I think they're a good racing series and I think they have to keep it this way.

I think if they split, is going to lose a lot of the power they have right now.

Q: Do you look forward to coming back here with something relatively more stable now than what's going on with F1?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: No, not only because of this reason, but maybe because I raced in America many years, not only in CART, but I raced Indy Lights before. I've always had a great time driving in America. This is the place where I've raced in my career that I had more fun doing my racing. Is not only the business, is not only the -- it looks like the way they do motor racing in America, especially in the Champ Car series, it's more fun, it's more sport, it's wheel-to-wheel racing, and there is more competition. At the end of the day, that's what a driver looks forward to.

Q: You've never driven a prototype car. I'm assuming you've never driven at night. That's obviously a key part of racing the 24 Hour. How do you get your mind around that?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, that's something that is one of the question marks I was talking about, having in my mind, is actually driving at night. I know it must be quite a different experience. The only race at night I've ever done in my whole life was a 12-hour go-kart race. But that is a pretty different deal because you don't have lights in the go-kart. Obviously, the track is all lit up.

It's going to be pretty different. I believe it's difficult, because just by thinking about driving on the normal road at night, I know I'm not sure if this is the parameter I have to take, it's an extra challenge than driving during the day. And I believe driving a dark racetrack must be more or less the same situation. It's one extra factor that makes it a little bit more difficult than it is when it's clear.

Q: Paul, as a driver, which was your most memorable moment and the worst moment of your career?

PAUL NEWMAN: I think probably the worst moment in my career was probably a race that I was the slowest in, but I can't remember which one that was, there were so many (laughter). That was the first part of the question. I can't remember the second part.

Q: What was the best moment?

PAUL NEWMAN: Oh, probably when I won the SCCA championship back in 1979.

Q: Do you have an idol? Which driver do you consider overall the No. 1 in the world?

PAUL NEWMAN: Oh, I have too many of them. That's just like someone asking you: What's your favorite movie?

Q: Can you help us anticipate a little bit what your team will do to put on the third driver in Champ Car?

PAUL NEWMAN: We are working very hard on that. It's not completed yet. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays itself out.

Q: Cristiano, you said you ran in the 500-mile karting race.

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yes.

Q: That's the only night racing you've ever done?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Exactly. The only one I've ever done.

Q: How do you prepare for something like this?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: I'm not sure if there is a specific way you can prepare for driving at night. I think after what I have been doing obviously, a 24-hour race must be quite tiring. That's the only thing I can imagine. I'm very well-prepared physically and I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to have a couple -- you're asking me something like I have no idea what I need to do it, so I'm looking forward for the first night practice to have an idea what it's like to drive at night.

Q: Then I'll ask you afterwards.

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Exactly. Therefore, maybe I'll be able to say, "Maybe I have to improve this area or that area." But right now it's just a question mark in my head.

Q: Mr. Newman, you have such a strong group of drivers with you for this race. Do you think you've got an opportunity to land up on top of the podium again?

PAUL NEWMAN: Well, we're going to give it our best shot. That's all I can say. You're kind of at the mercy of the mechanics of the things. If you can keep the car out of the pits, you've got a good chance to score high. If something breaks, then that's just the nature of the beast.

Q: Sarah, you said something about an announcement on February 2. Is there an announcement forthcoming or is there something that I didn't catch because of the phone?

SARAH GURTIS: There will be an announcement. Grand-Am is going to announce a special award program for Camp Boggy Creek done specifically with the 15 PaceSetter teams this year, so it will be a separate announcement on the second.

ADAM SAAL: For some of our more open-wheel oriented media, the PaceSetter Program is similar to the old Franchise Program or even the ESP Program that was in place at Champ Car.

Q: Cristiano, obviously you're not been doing a lot of racing since your time with the Toyota Formula 1 team came to an end. I wondered, how important is it from a driver's point of view that you're going to be participating in this event?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: I think every race I get into, it's important for me. I take this race as serious as I take any other race. I've been doing a couple of go-karting races here, so my arms not completely rested right now. So I'm in good shape. I'm ready to go. It's the first time in my whole life that I spent like six months without actually racing. I've been practicing with some go-karts and stuff, but it's different than to race. So I'm looking forward to race. It's always a good feeling. I don't think I'll have any trouble.

ADAM SAAL: I'm sure it will come back to you, Cristiano. Six months must be a lifetime.

Q: Mr. Newman, are you happy with how the Champ Car series is progressing this season with all the changes in management? There still seems to be a lot of unknowns that are coming up for the 2005 season.

PAUL NEWMAN: Well, I'm very encouraged by the professionalism of the management, the choices that they've made both in the venues, and purchase of Cosworth by Kalkhoven I thought was an exciting element. I'm just looking forward to a lot of good racing and a lot of good crowds, and that's about it.

Q: As far as you're concerned, Mr. Forsythe, Mr. Gentilozzi and Mr. Kalkhoven are doing a No. 1 job, the best they can do?

PAUL NEWMAN: They are indeed.

ADAM SAAL: We'd like to thank you everyone for taking time out of their busy schedules today, Paul Newman, Sarah Gurtis, Mike Brockman, Sebastien Bourdais and Cristiano da Matta. A lot of preparation to do before the Rolex 24 at Daytona February 5th through 6th. It is live, more than 14 and a half hours of coverage on SPEED Channel, including the first seven hours. We start at noon on February 5th, and we end at noon, Sunday, February 6th. Thank you for joining us.

-garra-

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