Continued from part 1 Q: You've had phenomenal growth from five or six DPs in '03 to 25 cars almost everywhere on the grid, Daytona Prototypes, this year. Have you plateaued or have you got some more teams coming into the ...
Continued from part 1
Q: You've had phenomenal growth from five or six DPs in '03 to 25 cars almost everywhere on the grid, Daytona Prototypes, this year. Have you plateaued or have you got some more teams coming into the Prototype series?
ROGER EDMONDSON: I don't mean to be crude about it, but this is a business. I think we look at the teams and wonder what their shelf life is going to be, like any retailer would. It's a natural part of the sport that some people come in, they achieve their goals, and particularly in sports car racing where a higher percentage of the teams are fielded by sportsmen, when they achieve their goals, they check those off and maybe they discover sailing or something else. They move along. At the same time there are always new people who have just cashed out of a big business deal who are coming aboard.
I expect from that standpoint on the sportsman side, I expect us to maintain. I think where our continued growth is going to come from is the true professional teams that look at Grand-Am as the next big thing, which we do, too. I think you're going to see more and more sponsors being put on cars and more and more people coming aboard who look at this as a real professional program and a place where they want to have their career.
We've got an interesting mixture of young up-and-coming drivers, and drivers who have reached the pinnacle of the sport. I don't think they consider us to have plateaued at all, and we don't either.
Q: Scott, you have a championship and two runner-up finishes. What do you do for an encore? Pretty darn good record. You mentioned at the banquet these have been some of the best years of your life. Are you as enthused again approaching this season as you have been the last couple?
SCOTT PRUETT: Absolutely. If nothing else, probably even more enthused. We've already started doing some preliminary work as far as getting ready for next year with the team. It's going to be a little different 'cause I am going to have a different co-driver next year that's going to add its new twists. I'm very excited to win the team championship and especially the manufacturer's championship for Lexus, which was huge for that manufacturer, especially considering there were only three full-time cars in the series.
For me, it's all about the racing. That's what I'm all about. It's not that exciting going out and racing with two or three or four or five other cars. When you're out there with 25, 26, 27 other cars, you're beating and banging, going for it every lap, and you got to really dig deep and pull all those things that you've learned over the years as a driver, as a team, strategies on the track, strategies off the track, how to prep the cars in different ways, racing from daylight to dark, the temperature of the track changes, you got to be ready for that. There are so many different aspects to it that all come back to it's all about the racing.
Again, I'm having the best years of my life. It's nice balancing the full season of Grand-Am with a couple of the NASCAR Cup races. So, yeah, I'm having a great time.
I've got to go, guys. I'd love to stick around, but I have some other things. Thanks for having me on. I'm looking forward to all the new tracks, all the new excitement.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Scott.
Q: Scott was saying to me at the banquet how exciting it was for the team championship, manufacturer championship and driver championship coming down to the last race of the year. With that kind much racing, are you seeing even more enthusiasm from your manufacturers and teams?
ROGER EDMONDSON: Yeah, there's no doubt about it. I can tell because they're all jockeying for position on the rules. It's interesting when people don't care, you don't hear from them. Our phone lines have been ringing.
At the end of the day, they're all pretty convinced of the one thing that I think is really the basis of our growth, and that's the fact they're getting a fair shake here.
If you come here and you do everything right, you can win one of our races. If you do everything right several times, you can win our championship. You cannot come here with a built-in advantage on equipment. I think that's what separates us from the rank-and-file of motorsports. People know when they come here, it's up to them, not up to what they can buy and put on the track.
Q: At the Infineon race this next year, I think you're going to have just the Daytona Prototypes, is that correct?
ROGER EDMONDSON: That is correct.
Q: With the smaller-sized group that you're bringing, will there be any chance you will be closer to where the fans are down in the paddock instead of way up on the hill?
ROGER EDMONDSON: Yes, there is. We're going to be working with our partners at Infineon to make sure we present the best possible display and the best possible race. We're grateful for the opportunity to join the IRL at Infineon this year. They weren't quite sure how the fans were going to respond to the sports cars because it had not proven to be that big of a deal for them in the past. They got a good response. We got a good response. Now we're going to work a little harder with the promoter to make sure we're seen as part of the main event.
Q: There's a shelf life, some teams come and go. Have you had inquiries from new teams for this next season?
ROGER EDMONDSON: Yes, there are several things in the works. You know me. You've known me a long time. My reputation is saying what I mean and meaning what I say. I tend not to deal in rumors, not to deal in speculation. I think that's probably an approach that served me well for 20 some years. I'm going to stick with it today, too.
You'll see some new teams. You'll see a couple of missing faces. All in all, when we started this thing in 1999, we said part of our mission was to provide stability in sports car racing. I think you're going to see we're true to our word.
Q: Do you know when the TV package will be announced?
ROGER EDMONDSON: The TV package is still in the works as far as the details go. I can tell you this much right now. We are in the midst of a renewal with SPEED that will put us on SPEED for the next eight years. They have been our partners since day one. They're going to continue to be our partner. The details of what they're going to be broadcasting, how many hours, are still in the works. It's going to be a very pleasing schedule.
Q: Will Hoosier continue to be in the program?
ROGER EDMONDSON: The arrangement we have with Hoosier as our sole tire supplier is by contract good through the 2007 season. We put our request in for a proposal a few weeks ago. As we speak, we're in the process of the evaluating the proposals that came from several fine companies. We will make the announcement as to who will have the '08, '09 and 2010 contract in the future.
MODERATOR: People are looking to put drivers with cars, see what new teams are coming. There is no better way to tell that than to see who shows up for the first test. We will have our first test for the 2007 season actually a little over a month from now at Daytona International Speedway. It's November 6 and 7, on track at Daytona for a two-day Rolex Sports Car Series test. We'll be generating some news from that.
Q: With several of the races being split, events like the Rolex 24 and Sahlen's 6 Hours will still be combined. With so many races being split, will there be GT SPEED coverage?
ROGER EDMONDSON: It's our intention and SPEED's intention that Rolex Sports Car Series will be broadcast in its entirety. That includes both of our fine programs.
Q: With the Pacesetter Program, are there any new marketing or plans for the fans to be looking towards this next year?
MODERATOR: One of the priorities for next year is to take a foundation we set with promotion and basically enhance it even more. This year we did an advance program that brought PR people into the market sometimes as far out as three weeks out from the race. We want to take that same effect in the media relations which increased our media coverage and shift it over to the promotion side to have more direct outreach with the fans. We'll be calling a lot of our teams to help us with that. Rest assured we'll be picking up the phone and calling on some of our best high-profile teams.
ROGER EDMONDSON: Some of those Corvette teams?
That is a main objective for next year. Roger and I have discussed it already. You're going to see an increased push on the in-market promotion, not just the media relations to make sure we get the broadcast and print coverage, but direct contact with the consumers. We want people to know there's a show in town when we arrive. Luckily we have a lot of good progressive promoters, our new partner in Montreal. I think you can tell Rusty is enthusiastic for what they do from earlier. Just because I am not mentioning them all, I'm not excluding anybody. We're getting a new spirit of cooperation with our promoters. We will combine that with some resources from Grand American, and some increased promotion is definitely going to be in order.
Q: Grand-Am had a couple split races for GT and DP last year. Now you're announcing obviously a few more for next year. Is this something that Grand-Am is working toward? Are they working more towards of a split series?
ROGER EDMONDSON: I think it's not necessarily something we're working towards as much as something that's a natural part of the evolution. It's interesting, when I first came to Daytona back in 1999 to create Grand-Am with Jim France and be ready for the 2000 season, I stated early on that I thought single-class racing would be the best way to expand the appeal of road racing to the general public, but I quickly became a fan of the multi-class racing because it was so exciting to watch.
Any time you have the multiple classes, you do end up with some situations that are unfair. For example, when the lead Prototype gets between the first and second place GT cars, then you have a pace car situation, it creates an unfair advantage to the lead car. Those are things that we always wrestle with in multi-class racing.
Now that we've grown like we have, we simply can't put all the cars on the track at the same time everywhere we go, I don't know that it's part of the plan as much as part of the reality.
Once again, at the 24 Hour, the 6 Hour and the Sunchaser 1000k, we will continue to run the multi-class racing. At the 250 here at Daytona, we have a 3.56 mile track, and we will continue to run multi-class racing. Some of the smaller facilities, it simply makes better sense for us to split them.
We did run a combined Grand-Am Cup race at VIR last year with 94 cars. We had 13 laps of green flag racing. That's not good for the spectator, not good for the TV audience, and certainly not good for the participants who in many cases enjoy their weekend driving the race car.
Again, that's the reality of life. We think it's going to be positive in the end.
Q: Do you have any constructor meetings about the DPs, any new rule changes?
ROGER EDMONDSON: We're having a constructor's meeting with the Daytona Prototype constructors late next week. There will be some announcements that come out of that that I think are going to create a bit of a stir.
We promised stability. We promised stability when we introduced the Daytona Prototypes. We're just now entering the fifth season. We're not going to do anything that will upset the apple cart. It's going to be an evolutionary program. It's going to continue that way. I think you may see some new interest develop in the Daytona Prototype category, but I can't tell you before I tell them. Stay tuned.
As far as GT goes, we've already season a tremendous increase in GT based on the announcement that we were going to start running some separate GT races. We have several new teams that are coming. Again, we'll let those announcements be made as they happen. There are no major rule changes coming in either category that are going to upset the apple cart.
Q: Can you talk about the final event coming up this weekend? There's a lot of buzz. I heard Entertainment Tonight is going to be there for Patrick Dempsey.
MODERATOR: Roger deferred to me because it has taken off from a PR perspective. Patrick Dempsey is going to be there and run in the Grand-Am Cup finale. We have twin six hours this weekend in addition to the GT live being there in a partner show. Patrick Dempsey is coming in to race. The media has grasped onto it. We got a call yesterday that Entertainment Tonight is going to be there to cover the finale. His sponsor, New York and Company, they're having a year-end sweepstakes, and prize winners who will attend the race from a retail program that was held throughout the country. The lucky winners, I'm not sure where they're from, but they will be there.
It's good. We need to end the Grand-Am Cup Series on a high note and bring some exposure to it. We welcome it. It's a good series for us. I know Roger has some pride in it as well. I think to speak to Grand-Am Cup in total, the finale, I'll give it back to Roger.
ROGER EDMONDSON: I'm really excited about this coming event. It's the coming together of several theories. We're going to see how our theories work in practice. In fact, we've been talking all day right now about the Rolex Series because that's what this conference is all about. Later this week we'll be announcing the Grand-Am Cup schedule.
Grand-Am Cup is also going to see some split races next year. It's our intention to help Grand-Am Cup develop a life of its own with its own schedule, its own promoters and its own weekends. This event at Virginia International Raceway is a great way to kick that off. It's going to be joined by GT Live, which is a huge turner activity. I think if you're a motorsports fan and you're within 500 miles of Virginia International Raceway, this is a great place to be this weekend. I'm getting on my motorcycle and leaving here in the morning. I expect to be up there in the evening, and can't wait for the activities to start.
MODERATOR: As Roger alluded to, we will announce the complete Grand-Am Cup schedule for 2007 in a press conference at this weekend's finale at VIR. The testing events I mentioned for the Rolex Sports Car Series, I mentioned the one at Daytona, November 6th and 7th, which is a little over a month from now. Of course, the second test at Daytona will be our annual Daytona Test Days. That's developed into practically a race in its own right with all the media attention and the star power that comes there. Jeff Gordon is already confirmed to run in the Rolex 24 At Daytona next year, and there are a lot of rumors about Juan Montoya being part of the mix. The traditional test days will be January 4th through 6th. Finally we go to Homestead-Miami Speedway on December 5th and 6th, and that will be our third straight year of going down there and doing a test. All these will generate media opportunities. We will give you a call to share all the news when that happens.
Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Thank you for the support of the Rolex Sports Car Series.