Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon Speed Demonstration Press Conference, June 11, 2003 Part 2 of 3 Q: I'm Roy Oliemuller with BMW North America with the communications group. Just to let you know, actually it came about in a conversation that...
Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon
Speed Demonstration Press Conference, June 11, 2003
Part 2 of 3
Q: I'm Roy Oliemuller with BMW North America with the communications group. Just to let you know, actually it came about in a conversation that our COO Tom Purvis had with Rick Hendrick approximately a year and a half to two ago, and it was just a thought to see if we could have some fun with this, make some greater awareness for the Formula One drivers in a comparison to the Winston Cup cars. And, as Jeff said, we tried desperately to pull this off last August, but we got them here.
MODERATOR: Say the name again.
Q: First name is Roy, last name is Oliemuller, O-L-I-E-M-U-L-L-E-R.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
Q: Jeff, from your experience today, would you say that a young American who has aspirations for Formula One is wasting his time in a Midget Sprint car and a Silver Crown car?
GORDON: If he wants to go to Formula One, absolutely. I think at a very young age they can start there, but in my opinion, I think that you -- even if you're American, European, it doesn't matter where you're from, you have to be over there growing up racing on those types of tracks, some type of car that's similar to that. I think a great race car driver can make it, but I think in order to be recognized and to get in that type of experience on those tracks, in those types of cars, absolutely. I think you have to be over there. Juan would know a lot more about it than I would, because he made it work through the CART series and got there. But I don't see how an American driver can be over here racing on ovals, you know, and then all of a sudden go over and be somebody that a Formula One team wants to hire for the road courses.
Q: In your experience today what's your appetite for a possible open-wheel drive in the future?
GORDON: You know, lately I've been a lot more open to getting behind the wheel of different types of cars. You know, I did the rally race over in Spain last year, had a blast with that, and I think since then it's opened my mind to just get the chance when it makes sense and I have the time to do it, and I was going to make time for this. You know, that's why I'm so glad that it happened, but anything besides this, I don't know. If the right opportunity came, you know, Danny Lasoski is asking me to get out there and drive his sprint cars somewhere when he's testing. I'd love to do that, too. It's been a while since I've driven a sprint car. Other than that I'm so busy with the Winston Cup and everything that we do, I'm pretty happy and content there.
MODERATOR: Guys, there was a second part to this lady's question.
Q: We wanted to know about your expectations coming into today. Was this just a day to have some fun or did you have realistic expectations either of you are what you could -- just comparing, if you could.
MONTOYA: For me, you know, I came and I didn't know what to expect from the car. Something that I was very clear is that I was going to go out there, you know, drive a car I've never driven and just have some fun. And I think today was go out, push a car you've never driven in your life, nothing close to it and just push it around as hard as you can. As drivers, we are always going to go out and push as hard as we can. We're not going to go out there and just cruise. We want some action. When I went out, I was going for it. And I think that was -- they told me how you be careful when you drive the car. Yeah, yeah, right. And I was like, you know, I don't know if I'm ever going to get an opportunity to drive a car like this again. It was a lot of fun to drive for me and you're not going to waste the opportunity, you know. You got to go for it.
MODERATOR: What about you, Jeff?
GORDON: My goals coming in were just to go out there, and I wanted to push the car enough to feel what it was capable of and feel good about myself that I didn't just go out there and drive around, that I actually, you know, drove the car at speed enough to really much and get a feel for it, and I'm happy with that. I didn't know what to expect. I think the car probably exceeded my expectations in its braking capabilities and accelerating and just everything that it was able to do. My neck is going to be so sore tomorrow, I've certainly got an appreciation for him holding his head up in that car. You know, running at Bristol for 500 laps, I know what that feels like, but this is a totally different experience because it's pulling in every direction, forward, back, left, right, and I certainly didn't expect some of those things. But the car just has such a tight feel to it, it's just so stuck, and he told me, he did, you're not going to notice the acceleration as much as you think. I don't know what he was talking about. I put my foot to the floor of that thing the first time and I went, 'Whoa,' you know. It got my attention in a hurry. And then once I realized about the traction control and some of those things I realized that you really can lay into it. But I try not to have too many expectations because I knew that it was just a fun experience. I didn't want to hit anything, and I wanted to say that I feel good about how hard I pushed the car.
MODERATOR: Given your credentials as a race car driver in this country -- and this might be silly to ask, but then again maybe not -- was there ever a thought in the back of your mind saying I don't want to embarrass myself in this car?
GORDON: Yeah. I didn't want to embarrass myself, one, by crashing it because I mean -
MONTOYA: That would be bad.
GORDON: That would have been bad. One is, that regardless, that's an expensive piece of machinery. He can wreck my car, you know, and it wouldn't take too much money to fix it. That thing would take a lot to fix.
MODERATOR: I hear some rumblings from your crew behind me.
GORDON: The embarrassment would have been big, but I think I would have been more embarrassed if I'd not pushed the car. I think I'd have been more disappointed in myself than anything else, and that's the thing I think I'm most proud of is that I watch Juan drive that thing down in the 50 mark and I was like 'OK, I'll be happy if I drive to the 75.' And I think I almost got to the 50 one time, you know, so I can't be disappointed with anything that happened out there.
Q: You both are in the media spotlight and public spotlight nonstop 24/7. How does it feel to just come out and have fun in a race car for both of you?
GORDON: That's what's so refreshing is to be able to do something that's more for fun. We're so caught up in competition all the time and having to be faster than every guy out there and having to push the limits, push the limits, today I knew I had no pressure on me. I didn't expect to outdo any lap times or do any particular lap times. I didn't even know what lap times the F1 cars ran and, you know, I just wanted to go out there and really enjoy myself. And I honestly can say it was one of the most enjoyable experiences and days I've ever had behind the wheel of a race car.
MONTOYA: And for me it works in the same way. Everyone, we do a lot of testing, you know, we test every week after a race, we spend three or four days testing, we drive the car and you got to be methodical. In a race we can just stay focused, what do you do, what do you do, where here you just sit down and just drive the wheels of it. That's a lot of fun. You don't have any pressure that you got to go quick, you don't have any pressure of anything. You just kind of go out there and have fun.
GORDON: You didn't want to wreck that thing either, right?
MONTOYA: No, you don't want to wreck it, I do agree. I was going through Turn 1 backward, and it's like -- and he's like, oh, no, you wouldn't want that.
Q: Could each of you tell us how you used your feet differently in the two cars?
GORDON: No difference really. Just a different feel in the pedals. The Winston Cup car is a long travel on the throttle and probably the brakes a little bit spongier. But most of it's just the cockpit is narrower and angles are different. But I know when Juan put the steering wheel on my car on the first time, he is like, 'What is this thing?' He was laughing. This big steering wheel and it was right in his face and he was like, 'I need it out there and up here.' And it's similar to me, you know. I got in there and I was like this (indicating), so it's certainly a new experience there. But no, in the Winston Cup cars now with the transmissions we have, we left-foot brake and, you know, downshift. The only thing I don't have to match any RPMs with the F1 car where you know we had to with the NASCAR Winston Cup.
Q: That was my question, just about moving the steering wheel for both of you guys because, Jeff, can you imagine road racing like that? Juan?
MONTOYA: The first time I got in, he said, 'Oh, I like the steering wheel low.' And I was like, 'Low?' The steering wheel was against my legs, I'm like, 'Right.' So they pushed it a bit away, and that was OK. I think the biggest difference I really felt on the braking was that the F1 the amount of pressure you put and bite you get is very direct. You know you press harder, you get more here. You get to the point if you press harder you smoke the tires. It's like, that's it, you know, pull a parachute or something.
Q: Juan, a lot of F1 purists tend to look down their noses at other forms of racing, particularly stock cars, but how impressed were you by what Jeff did? How well did he actually do in your opinion?
MONTOYA: I think he did really well. I'll we honest with you, I wasn't expecting any less from him. I got to say he's a very good driver. He's done really good things. If you look at his background, anything he's driven, he's won. And he's like, you know, I got in the car, and I was comfortable with it straightaway. And it's the same thing, you know. I think we're both drivers, to get to where we are, we've driven through a lot of things. And when you're a good driver you probably drive anything, from a tractor to a F1 or, you know -
GORDON: He thought he was driving a tractor there.
MONTOYA: No, I didn't. I was going to say I was very amazed with the power. That's -- it's like I revved the first time to like six, seven thousand, I was like, 'That feels OK.' Then on the backstretch I went in the first gear all the way to nine thousand, I was like, 'This is pretty good.'
Q: You know all that, but most people (inaudible).
MONTOYA: I think it's two different things I think. In a F1, it's all about technology and the leading edge on anything, yeah. You know, where like here the tires are stuck, same tires for everybody. For us each race tires are three or four-tenths quicker. You look at the lap times how they drop over the last three years, it's been crazy. The cars are a bit quicker, but most of the time it comes down to the tire, and that's the way it happens. Everything is the ultimate in F1. Where I think Winston they look at a way to have more even racing. They're not -- they probably put apart a little bit the performance. The organizers put the performance side away to try to get a closer racing performance where you can see two, three side-by-side racing for I don't know how many laps. You know, you look at the small ovals where they race, that's crazy, you know.
GORDON: We need to take him to Bristol. Then you'd have some fun.
Q: Jeff, how disorienting was it to come down the front stretch in the opposite direction?
GORDON: I can say it wasn't as disorienting as it was after I stepped on the brakes the first time and the blood rushed out of my head. The front -- you know, I did it in the stock car the very first time and it was unique driving to the right. But the road course cars are so set up to turn right, they're better to the right than they are to the left, actually, and so it wasn't that big of a deal. But, you know, every once in a while I'd come down the straightaway and I'd go, 'Hey, this is cool, I've never driven this direction on purpose down this straightaway.' So, really, my day was all about getting in that F1 car, and I really didn't pay a lot of attention to driving backward down the front straightaway as I did what was going to happen when I got to the end of the straightaway.
Q: Just a quick follow-up. You run at Watkins Glen, you run at Sears Point. What's your thoughts on the way this road course is here?
GORDON: I don't know what the opinion of the Formula One drivers is of this course. But it's a beautiful course, they did a great job, the curves are nice, and the paving is awesome. It's very, very flat for us. You know, for a stock car to not have some kind of banking, to have a little bit more grip and also bit more speed, you know, that's why we do so well at Watkins Glen and why they've made so many changes at Sears Point for us is to make the track much faster and more banking in areas that we possibly can because we need to be able to be -- to get more aggressive and feel the grip. Where this track is so flat you're hardly even on the gas, you're just kind of sliding, sliding, sliding and then there's a couple straightaways that you actually get after it and brake. But I think that we would have a little bit of trouble here as flat as it is, but -- that doesn't mean that it's not a great course. I do think it is a nice course.