Bell Motorsports teleconference (part 3)

Continued from part 2 Q: Mr. Fittipaldi, rumor has it that Mr. Petty, a guy for whom you're still contractually engaged, is very seriously, I want to put it beyond contemplating, but has implemented a Daytona Prototype effort. Does that mean...

Continued from part 2

Q: Mr. Fittipaldi, rumor has it that Mr. Petty, a guy for whom you're still contractually engaged, is very seriously, I want to put it beyond contemplating, but has implemented a Daytona Prototype effort. Does that mean you may possibly drive in a Daytona prototype for Petty Enterprises next year?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: I have to be quite honest with you, I have heard that rumor floating around a little bit. But like no one from the team ever told me that. Also Kyle, we speak a lot, but we never spoke about that. I know that Kyle really loves this type of racing. He's definitely going to do like the long races against next year.

But as far as I'm concerned, I don't know anything about it. I don't think Kyle would really do the move. I think, as I said before, he's going to do the long races next year, but he still has a couple of years in what he does right now. He's enjoying that. I think he's going to basically continue there and eventually maybe one day when he stops racing and if he wants to set up a team or if he wants to do the other series, yes, that could be like a great possibility. Right now, I really don't know of that plan.

Q: If Mr. Petty were to come up to you and ask you to join a Daytona Prototype effort in a Petty Enterprises car, would you consider doing so?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: I'm going to be honest with you. I really like those guys, but the last year, year and a half or so for me have been very, very difficult. Pretty much my whole year, career, or at least 80% of my career, I've been used to driving like for some really good teams, and that's the only way that you can go about motor racing. You need to be with the best people because it's not only the drivers that win the races, it's all about the driver, the team, the sponsor. And when you manage to put a whole package together, then that's when you can go out there and really do well.

I'm going to basically weigh all the options I have for next year and I'm going to see really what's going to be the best for Christian to go out there and win races because lately, apart from the race in the beginning of the year, as I said right in the very beginning, Christian has been a little bit bored sitting at home. I need to get back in the car. I need to do well.

Q: I can remember watching your uncle break back into racing back in the United States in Sanchez' prototype in Miami. Seeing him return was of considerable beauty to me. He went on to prove he was a very capable driver. Your layoff hasn't affected you materially. Terry, you had a smile on your face at Watkins Glen, one I hadn't seen in a long time. It seemed like a long time at any rate. Gavin being there I presume was probably the genesis of that. Y'all ended up finishing fourth, I believe it was.

TERRY BORCHELLER: Yes.

Q: Would you tell me a bit about your mental state for that race at Watkins Glen, what you're going to carry into Miami with Christian sitting in the car?

TERRY BORCHELLER: I try to be as optimistic as possible every time I go to a race. I'm a lot like Forest in that when I go, I want to win. I've been with Ollie (Gavin), we won the Sebring 12 Hour together in GTS in 2001, we were on the podium at Le Mans together, my first Le Mans. We've had good results the two times we've been together. I kind of knew we were going to have a good result there at Watkins.

Fourth really wasn't the result that I wanted. I wanted to win the race. We gave it our best shot. I think, you know, it was just hard to tell in regards to towards the end of the race whether or not we should have come in for dries. With the first and third place car staying out with only 15 minutes left, the cars that came in for dries pretty much didn't have anything to lose. We were kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. I think if we had come in, we theoretically could have won the race, but at the same time there was no way we were going to make that decision with what first and third was doing. .

But it was good for the team. It's been a difficult season after the 24 Hour. We did get one podium at Mont-Tremblant. Other than that, it's been a struggle. So, yeah, it was exciting. It's always good to have Ollie back. It's going to be great to have Christian there. He's been great for all the testing we've done, for the 24 Hour. It's going to be a lot of fun.

Q: I remember seeing Christian down there in the Homestead-Miami December test last year for the DPs. As well as Andy Pilgrim, who also ran in the 24 with you, has been instrumental in a couple of tests with you. Then we got Gavin in there. He's a Corvette guy, too. Terry, Andy Pilgrim, Oliver Gavin connection, what is it? It seems like it goes back a long time.

TERRY BORCHELLER: For me, I've been a teammate of Andy's since 1998. I won my first championship with him in a street stock series. I've developed a friendship with him and been close friends with him ever since then. He was introduced to me by Jim Bell, who manages our team down there in Miami, the 54 car.

Ollie, I was introduced to through Saleen, whenever the S7 came out. Ollie and I were the factory drivers for that in the first year in 2001. You know, then just I think by coincidence they're all involved with GM now, we were able to come back together.

Q: I want to take us to September 12th in Miami, the next race on the schedule, out of four races remaining. Taking a quick look at the points chart here, I don't think you guys can seriously challenge or successfully defend I think would be a better way to defend your championship from 2003. Noting your desire to win is unabated regardless of what race it may be. I presume you guys would like to show the rest of the field a thing or two for the last four races?

TERRY BORCHELLER: Absolutely. I think Christian kind of echoed it already, you know, that he thinks we can win each of the last four races. I know that's pretty optimistic. I'm going in thinking the same thing. I think that we will have a shot at every race. Whether or not we'll win the last four, I don't know, time will tell. I'm going in thinking that we'll have a chance to. We're sure going to try.

Q: Forest, you've never been one to seek out the public eye. You've sat in that seat because you wanted to personally challenge yourself. You're going to challenge yourself now evidently in a different way. Are you going to be able to derive the same satisfaction out of that?

FOREST BARBER: Time will tell. I believe I will be able to. It was really satisfying and heartening to see the team do well at Watkins Glen. So I think it will be fine. I have to wait and see, but I think it's going to be great, this new role that I'm hoping to take on and be successful with. I think it's going to fit pretty well.

Q:  I heard about that 2.4-mile raceway you have near your home in
Texas.  Where is that at?

FOREST BARBER: I guess it's 18 miles west of Fort Worth and about 10 miles west of my home. It's very convenient. It's a place called Motorsports Ranch. I'd say there's some racing teams that are based there and then a lot of nice cars that people have fun running or testing through the week or on the weekends.

Q: If you were able to put a handle on it, how many times do you still get into a car, even if it includes Motorsports Ranch, put the pedal to the metal, that is?

FOREST BARBER: Well, it's not even weekly anymore. I have young children that I'm devoted to. They take a lot of time. They are a joy. You know, probably I don't get in a race car or racing type car more than twice a month anymore. We're going to test at VIR Friday. Christian is coming up there and we're going to run the car. That will be some fun for me. But the object of the exercise, as Jim Bell would say, is to develop the car and see what we can do at VIR. We're going there 250 work and I'll have a little fun while we do it.

Q: I have not had a chance to address this issue with you guys, Terry or Forest. Either one of you guys can answer it. Christian has been on the periphery of the team. He may know, too. I've heard that one of the problems is not -- if we can couch it in that manner, has not necessarily been the driving combination of the team but also some experimentation on the part of trying to figure out the better mousetrap, shall we say, on the Kodak car there. Is there any truth to that? Do you understand my question?

TERRY BORCHELLER: I'm going to let Forest answer that so I don't get in trouble.

FOREST BARBER: I think the truth is that the Bell Motorsports team has always worked very hard to develop the car to its optimum. I think sometimes people can pursue a path and then discover it might be a path that wasn't productive. Now, whether that is what happened to our car or not, I don't know. But we've had to work harder to find the performance that we need this year because of the different playing field I think in particular.

So I'm not sure there's any trouble with experimentation as much as it is us working really hard to keep up with some of the more highly developed cars that entered the series.

Some of the newer cars, the Doran chassis, it's a great chassis, but it was a chassis that started at the beginning of the series. The other manufacturers, at least a couple of them, have kind of had a year to sit and watch and see what the series might need, to refine and develop their design. It might be easier to do not in the heat of competition. So the competing chassis started out on a flat run and we've been working pretty hard to stay with them.

Q: I can remember when it was brought to Daytona in 2003 last season veritable pit form, and it expired shortly after the race began. You're remarking about development of other cars as well as the Kodak car is an interesting comment considering I thought these cars were kind of like spec cars.

FOREST BARBER: Oh, I don't think so. You have at least four current manufacturers. I think we started out with seven. No, they're not spec. I mean, each chassis is different. Each chassis designer has a different idea of how to approach the optimum package. No, they're not spec cars. There are some spec components. We have four or five different engine packages plus the chassis, shock combinations. They're not a spec car by any means.

Q: Obviously, Max (Papis) and Scott (Pruett) have been doing so well this year. What have you guys seen that has made that team pretty strong?

TERRY BORCHELLER: I think just with the experience of Ganassi Racing, they came in with a pretty fine-tuned effort from the beginning. It's not like they assembled a new team. Not just from the team standpoint in regards to people, but in regards to the operation. That includes, you know, the plan for testing, the plan for racing, the plan for how the year was going to progress. I mean, they were kind of well-tuned from the start, if you know what I mean.

You know, they've got some of the best in the business I think over there. It just showed up. It showed up at the first race when they qualified for Daytona. I think they were on the pole for the 24 Hour.

I also think they did their homework with regards to the chassis and the motor they picked. Again, they're no stranger to those two companies. I think that helped them get things moving in a positive direction right off the bat.

Q: You guys think they're beatable last four races?

TERRY BORCHELLER: I do, yeah. I definitely do. I mean, we came very close at Watkins Glen, I think. I think with Christian in the car and with the team as hungry as they are to win some races, I definitely think that it's going to be interesting.

The other thing is, we don't have a whole lot to lose. I mean, we're not in contention necessarily for the championship. I think that just makes you want to win even more.

Q: You can gamble a little more to go for the win.

TERRY BORCHELLER: Sure.

ADAM SAAL: I think with that final question, we'll bring this to a close. Forest, Terry, Christian, thank you for joining us today and taking the time. We appreciate it. We'll do more of these teleconferences as we continue to promote the Rolex Sports Car Series. Thank you very much everybody and have a great day.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Oliver Gavin
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing