CHAMPCAR/CART: Carl Haas, Paul Newman press conference, part II

An interview with Newman/Haas Racing co-owners Carl Haas and Paul Newman. Part 2 of 2 Q: I realize each championship is unique, but you won the previous three with big-name drivers. Is this one more rewarding because you kind of brought ...

An interview with Newman/Haas Racing co-owners Carl Haas and Paul Newman.

Part 2 of 2

Q: I realize each championship is unique, but you won the previous three with big-name drivers. Is this one more rewarding because you kind of brought Cristiano along through CART? Do you understand what I'm getting at?

Carl Haas: From my point of view, I don't know if Paul feels the same way, I don't know if it's more rewarding. What was rewarding to me was what I've said earlier, how much the team has come together. You know, it was 60, 65 stars. Every time you win a race, it's terrific. I'm on a high. It doesn't last too long - probably till Monday afternoon maybe (laughter). In the previous championships, they were wonderful with Mario. Michael won a championship with us, too, I believe. Mansell brought a whole new experience. Mansell was incredibly talented, very quick, very much accepted by the press. He was somewhat different, somewhat different. Not the same. But it was fun to win that one. The year later that he stayed was not too great.

But the da Matta one, you know, it was almost too easy, almost too easy, because it started off with the first race in Monterrey, Mexico, and it really continued. Then he had that streak of four races in a row, three that were kind of bad luck or thrown away. Those three races, he could have won any one of those. He made one mistake there. Any of those three races he could have had a victory in. Right afterwards it picked up again, went forwards. I'd say the whole season, usually it's very high pressure. I must say it wasn't like that. I won't call it easy, but it all worked together.

Paul Newman: And the measure of that is how much of his cigar he eats during a race. He ate and chewed less cigars during this season than almost any season I can remember.

Carl Haas: That's absolutely true.

Q: Paul is probably the most modest star I've ever run into in my life. Can you tell us what he brings to the team?

Carl Haas: Well, first of all, you know, if you would have asked me when this started, would we stay together for 20 years? I wouldn't have bet on it. I think he brings a lot to the team. We said it earlier. Paul is a great partner. He's involved. He goes to almost all of the races. He's on the telephone with our engineers, drivers, he talks to Cristiano, speaks to Christian. He knows what's going on. All of us are proud to be associated with him.

Paul Newman: I actually bring sponsors, too.

Carl Haas: Absolutely, which helps.

Q: Cristiano and Christian had a good chemistry. I think it probably spread through the team. They knew each other before they even raced against each other. This was a good thing for the team. Christian is not going to be there next year. It remains to be seen about Cristiano. Can you talk about what it is, apart from driving talent, that you look for in the character of a driver, putting together a cohesive team?

Carl Haas: Do you want to take that, Paul?

Paul Newman: Listen, they both have very, very positive personalities. I think that brings the whole team up. Even when things are difficult or not going well, they still seem to maintain a positive attitude. The fact that they were friends beforehand might have made it a little easier to communicate, but I don't think that in the long run made any specific difference that I could finger. That kind of positiveness spreads like wildfire through the team. It's critical. It's great fun to watch.

Merrill Cain: Carl, did you want to comment?

Carl Haas: I'd have to think that out. I don't have the answer for it. I think the only thing I can say is that it's fun when you win races, the rest of it is hard work. The history of Paul and my team has been that we are motivated to try and win races. That's what we're going to do next year.

Q: I want to go back to when this partnership was formed. I know in forming partnerships, every individual has their own personal goals that they want to see out of it. Could you talk about what you thought might happen in the future and how close are you to reaching those goals, or did different goals pop up as you went along?

Paul Newman: Carl was focusing on making money, and I was focusing on staying alive. This is the longest partnership I've had aside from the salad dressing. This is a tough house, guys. I don't hear any laughter out there (laughter).

Q: I'm laughing, Paul.

Paul Newman: Okay.

Q: Why do you think that is?

Paul Newman: Well, I think above and beyond all of our personal differences, and they have been many, and we have had some scraps, but in the final analysis we were both smart enough to know that the team was simply the most critical thing. It was us working together, putting those differences that we had aside for whatever the best interest of the team was. We may be dumb in some areas, but in that area I think we're extremely smart.

Q: Carl?

Carl Haas: Rephrase your question again. I was listening to Paul. I forgot what you asked.

Paul Newman: That's the nicest thing you ever said to me, Carl (laughter).

Q: Your personal goals when this partnership was formed, have you reached those goals or have the goals changed at all?

Carl Haas: The only thing I can say, you know, the goals, we certainly reached our goals for this year. Every year is like that. You have goals for that year. You have engineering plans for a long time, okay? They take lead time, and programs develop. But my goals I guess start at the end of the season for the next season. It's very easy to know if the goals are accomplished or not accomplished by whatever performance you come up with. The idea of racing is for us to be competitive and try to win races. I guess that's about it. The goal is to get your share of wins.

Q: Paul, you mentioned the salad dressing. Yesterday you were with Kyle Petty and the groundbreaking of Victory Junction. Can you talk about that?

Paul Newman: If you have 45 minutes, I might get a start at it. Listen, we have a family of camps now. Kyle's, that is the latest one in that family. They are going at this with hammers and tongs. It is going to be a wondrous place. Richard (Petty) is excited about it, is deeply involved. They're putting a camp up where it's really needed. I'm very excited by that. Boy, it happened like a rocket ship. They've done all their homework. They have great medical backups there, they're hacking up the land, going at it in a first-class manner. They will be open next summer.

Q: The remaining races, you have three races yet to go. Although you said it was not a pressure-filled season for you, the pressure has to be relaxed a little bit. Do you expect more fun results or a letdown or the same?

Paul Newman: I think this is the largest single number of races ever won in a CART season. If he's going to be loose and easy, he just is going to do that.

Carl Haas: You're right, the season is not over. Our people are still working on it. We're getting ready for the Australian race, which they have to leave I think next week. We're getting ready for that. I agree. I think Cristiano and Christian for that matter are going to have a goal. Christian, by the way, is still fairly far up in the championship. I think he's got a chance, mathematical chance, for second, which would be difficult. He will give it a good try.

Paul Newman: He's driving very, very, very well now.

Carl Haas: But I think Cristiano is going to try and win some races here. I never predict how many races we're going to win or not. You can't predict it. I'm too superstitious to predict it. I didn't talk about the championship until it was over. You keep hearing about the championship, that you got it made and everything. Well, you didn't have it made until the end of the race at Miami. We did have a good lead and all that, but you never know until you have it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we're going to try hard, but I don't predict how we do.

Merrill Cain: You mentioned that Cristiano has a chance to tie the CART record with eight wins in a season or best it with nine wins. We had him doing a few interviews on Monday, he said that's important to him. Now that the pressure is off, he has to look for his next goal. Do you think that would punctuate the great year he's had if he were able to tie or surpass that record? Is it such a special season he has had that you hope he gets that mark?

Carl Haas: Absolutely.

Paul Newman: A record is a record no matter what you call it.

Q: Paul, when it comes to racing, at least with this team, you seem to have taken the backseat to Carl. Carl is out front with the media and so forth. We haven't heard a lot from you in the years past about your involvement with racing. Do you derive more pleasure out of racing than acting? Do you view acting as a job and racing as a hobby?

Paul Newman: I can't tell you right now. But Joanne (Woodward) had the smartest observation. She said, In the late '70s, I watched you run out of steam and kind of just enter into new films, go into new films with kind of a dull enthusiasm. But the second you started racing, your enthusiasm for racing led back to your profession. It was interesting to watch that come alive.

Q: You both have been in the sport a long time now. CART has had some hard times recently. How do you feel about the future? Are you bullish on the future of CART?

Carl Haas: I don't want to get into that too deep. From my point of view, I've been with CART, as Paul has, for 20 years. Before that I had some involvement in some ways. I'm very pro CART. We are going through difficult times, but I'm very high on the job that Chris Pook and his team are doing. It's fair to say next year will be a pivotal year. I think it has an excellent chance of getting better.

Paul Newman: It's hard to lose enthusiasm for the best racing in the country.

Q: When was the first moment that each of you knew that auto racing was going to be a part of your life?

Paul Newman: 1970.

Q: What triggered that?

Paul Newman: The film "Winning."

Merrill Cain: Was it a love affair when you were making the film; you realized this was something you needed to be involved in?

Paul Newman: There were cars and Joanne, so I had two things I could fall in love with.

Q: And Carl?

Carl Haas: As a kid, I really wasn't into automobile racing. A friend of mine dragged me up to Elkhart Lake for a race, a road race. At that time Elkhart Lake, this was in the '50s, they raced around the lake, the middle of the town. I was mesmerized by it. That's what grabbed my interest. I went from there. I did quite a bit of driving myself. But that's how it started.

Merrill Cain: We'd like to thank both Paul Newman and Carl has for joining us on the teleconference today. Congratulations on a great season thus far, it's not over yet, and the fourth CART title for Newman/Haas Racing. Thanks for joining us today.

-cart- Newman/Haas press conference, part II

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kyle Petty , Paul Newman , Carl Haas , Chris Pook