CHAMPCAR/CART: Barber, Tracy teleconference transcript (part 3)

Continued from part 2 Q: Paul, you mentioned the issue of the heat inside the car. You pride yourself on your conditioning. Will your workouts change any to try to upgrade that conditioning level to reach the need to survive this...

Continued from part 2

Q: Paul, you mentioned the issue of the heat inside the car. You pride yourself on your conditioning. Will your workouts change any to try to upgrade that conditioning level to reach the need to survive this heat?

PAUL TRACY: Well, it all really depends on the weather. Again, it's something that I'm not used to. You know, talking with Terry, he's been driving closed cockpit cars his whole career. He said he's had a couple races where he doesn't know how he got out of the car. He was completely burned up, his car was so hot.

It's one of those things where even at the test, even though it wasn't that hot down there at Miami, it was probably only 70 degrees the day we tested, he had one of these hoses that plugs into the top of the helmet for fresh air. They wear a Cool Vest during the race. These are the things that I'll need to get a helmet prepared with that setup because they have all that equipment, an icebox in the car for the Cool Vest and for the air system, for the helmets. I'll need to get this equipment for the race in case the temperature is warm that particular weekend.

Q: You don't do any additional or special conditioning between now and then?

PAUL TRACY: No, huh-uh, no.

Q: I hadn't heard the expression "chrome horn" before. Mr. Tracy, I presume you're aware of the door-banging type of routine these cars have found themselves?

PAUL TRACY: Uh-huh.

Q: Do you look forward to that? When those wheels touch on open-wheel cars, they're going counter-rotational to each other. Here you don't have to worry so much about that. Terry Borcheller is one of the best door-bangers around. I'm curious to know if you're anticipating that or fearing that type of situation?

PAUL TRACY: I don't think I'm known for fearing, but I hope that our car is going to be out front and clear sailing off into the lead and we don't have to be in any situations.

Obviously, it's a 24-hour race. We want to drive a clean, smart race, stay out of trouble, be there in the 24th hour. If you get into situations with anybody, you're only just raising the possibility of having a mechanical failure or something fail on the car by having contact with maybe a slower car or a car that you're lapping.

Really the focus is to get us to the end of the race. That's what the team did last year. There was cars running faster, cars that were setting the pace. But in the 24th hour, those cars started to fall by the wayside.

We're coming back with the focus of what it's going to take to win the race.

Q: Johnny Tomlinson's name has come up so often, have you had the opportunity to be at the helm when he's at throttles?

PAUL TRACY: We were out last week in my boat, out by his shop in the bay in Miami.

Q: Did you have to tell him to slow down?

PAUL TRACY: I was ready to slow down. He had the thing held down. We had my boat going 164 (mph). I know that Forest has been probably about 20 miles an hour faster than that with Johnny. He's the best in the business.

Q: Paul, 10 or 15 years I've known you, two words I've never heard in connection with you is "low maintenance" and "fear."

PAUL TRACY: I think the thing that maybe Forest and his team were worrying about is that I was going to come into the test and try to show everybody how fast I was, try to reengineer the car. That's really -- I'd never driven one of these cars, never even sat in one before until that day. Really I'm just there to learn from them. They're the experts at that type of car. I'm the beginner. I'm the rookie in this thing. I'm there to try to learn from Terry and Jim and the rest of their crew, see what this is all about.

I guess a lot of guys come into these things and they want to come in and reengineer the wheel. That's really not how I am.

Q: Two interesting scenarios here. You're going to be teamed up not only with Terry, who is off the track a very low-key type of person, but he's very upbeat. The other is even though you never raced with him as a teammate, you've raced against Christian Fittipaldi. Now you two guys are going to be teammates.

PAUL TRACY: No, Christian and I get along well. We had a couple run-ins on the racetrack. But we were always friends on and off the track. I guess along really well with him. I get along well with his wife.

I've talked to him on the phone. We talked a little bit about some of the issues with the race car. I gave him a call after the test and we talked about how the car was handling. He said some of the things we need to improve on the car. I felt the same things that he had felt driving the car.

I think everybody's on the same page. There's some improvements that Forest has got, engineering some new parts for the geometry of the car for the rear suspension. Hopefully these things are going to make the car quicker.

Q: When I listened to the early part of this interview, you said you've watched everybody else do other things, other forms of racing during the off-season. We all reach a point in our careers where we make a decision, "Maybe if I do something different, I will change what is happening." In a sense, are you doing that? Are you saying, "I need to have my mind focus on a form of racing during the off-season as much as I have to have my body ready to race?"

PAUL TRACY: You and I have known each other a long time. You've seen me over the years come back from year to year and at certain times reinvent myself. At one point it was the weight loss I had, losing 30 pounds, coming back and winning the championship. Certain times of my career I've come from one season to the next and reinvented myself.

I think that's what it takes to be competitive year in, year out. I'm going on now a 14-year career. You don't stay competitive doing the same things year after year after year. This is something that is new for me but it's because I still love -- I'm doing this because I still love to drive cars. I don't see an immediate short-term end. My motivation is still very high.

I could sit at home for five months and do nothing if that's what I felt like doing. But I'm on a team now with Forsythe. I make a lot of money. I could sit at home and do nothing. But I'm going out to do this because I want to drive and I want to compete and want to win.

Q: When you look at what you're doing with this sports car race, the Rolex 24, how big a challenge is this for you?

PAUL TRACY: Well, it's a big challenge. It's a different car. It's new people. It's a lot to learn in a short amount of time. I feel I've sourced out the best possible people to be with. We all have kind of a common -- talking with Terry and talking with Forest, we all kind of have common friends that have kind of put us together. With Forest, we have a common friend in John Tomlinson. Talking with Terry and getting to know Terry, he was teammates with Tommy Kendall, who is a great friend of mine. They were teammates when they drove for the Saleen team in Europe. There are a lot of common friends in this thing. I think that's what's great about it.

Q: You sound right now as up as I've ever heard you during a season. Normally your pace is a little slower. In the middle of a championship fight is what I hear in your voice right now.

PAUL TRACY: Like I said earlier, I'm not happy with how the end of the season ended last year. My goal was to try to repeat as champion. We didn't do a good job this year. There's a lot of reasons why we didn't do as well as last year. I'm willing to look within myself and try to make the improvements that I need to make. My team at Forsythe is doing that now. I'm motivated to come back in 2005 and try to win another championship.

Q: Forest, can you remind us what it meant for you to win this race last year? It is a great commitment to try to repeat. It's a difficult task.

FOREST BARBER: I was a relative newcomer and certainly a latecomer to car racing. In watching, loving to watch sports cars for years, it was really an unbelievable experience to win that race on our second time out. I have friends within racing that have been to that race for 25 years and have never won a class.

It was extraordinary. We were absolutely blessed, grateful, had a tremendous effort from every person on the team that made it happen. It's quite a challenge to even imagine the possibility of winning it two times in a row. We are putting together our best efforts with many of the same elements and new great team members such as Paul who are joining us.

Q: You mentioned there will be one more driver to add, is that right?

FOREST BARBER: That's correct. We'll run a total of five on the roster. As I say, there's going to be four plus me if it works out right.

Q: Paul, you have many great wins on your resume. I want to know if you've competed here before in Daytona and what would a victory at the "World Center of Racing" mean for you and your career?

PAUL TRACY: First I think it means a lot to anybody. To answer your first question, I've never driven at Daytona before. It will be my first time at Daytona. I've won a lot of great races in a lot of great places throughout my career. I'm hopeful that we can do a good job. If everything goes right, we'll be able to win at the 24 Hour.

Q: Forest, does this announcement add to the prestige of your race team overall? This is your second year of operation. You've won a championship. You won the premiere race in your series, premiere road race in North America. Does having Paul Tracy along for the ride this year heighten your prestige as an organization?

FOREST BARBER: I would say yes. It can't do anything but. If Paul has the confidence in our team to want to race with us and believe he can do it competitively with us, it has to be a compliment.

It certainly is a compliment to the series, too, and increases the series' prestige, having someone like Paul come aboard. So, yes, it's a compliment, and we thank you very much.

NATE SIEBENS: With that, let's wrap-up today's teleconference. Thanks again to Paul Tracy and to Forest Barber for joining us here today. Gentlemen, congratulations on an exciting announcement.

I want to call your attention to a series of announcements that will be taking place tomorrow at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in Indianapolis at the PRI show in the press room at the Indiana Convention Center at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. The highlight of that will be the official announcement and unveiling of the latest engine to be approved for Rolex Series Daytona Prototype competition and the first team that will race the new motor as well as a briefing with Riley Technologies and a few other things.

Thanks again to everybody for joining us. Good afternoon.

-garra-

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Series GRANDAM , INDYCAR