CART FedEx Championship Series June 25, 2002 An interview with Jimmy Vasser Part 2 0f 2 Q: Give me your opinion or your feelings on all the - not all media are doing it - but certainly there's a fair amount of CART-bashing going on out there,...
CART FedEx Championship Series
June 25, 2002
An interview with Jimmy Vasser
Part 2 0f 2
Q: Give me your opinion or your feelings on all the - not all media are doing it - but certainly there's a fair amount of CART-bashing going on out there, yet the series has great representation at the track in terms of fans, also worldwide in television, et cetera, yet we hear things about the demise of CART. Frankly I am not seeing it but I am wondering how you feel about it? Do you feel resentful that that's getting out in the media and it's an untrue thing?
Jimmy Vasser: I don't like to see negativity within our sport and with our racing series because I am very proud to be a part of CART. I think the competition level is as high as any series in the world and I think the direction that CART and our new leader Chris Pook are taking the sport is in the right way. So personally I feel very positive about the future and the way things are going. I can't let it bug me too much when you hear a lot of negativity, but certainly I think that the proof will be in the pudding and it's only a matter of time before there's only going to be positive things to write about.
Q: I guess the only thing to worry about might be car count. Does that concern you and do you see that changing in the future for the positive side?
Jimmy Vasser: Yeah, it is a bit of a concern; certainly, the car count down like it is not a good thing but I think certainly it's going to rise particularly next season with the new engine package and the cost controls that are going to be in place, that's going to make it a lot more feasible for new teams to come into CART, and easier for teams that are in CART now to remain.
Q: Totally off the subject, you have been a long-time fan of living in Las Vegas, somehow you got a Canadian to move there. I forget who else lives there. What is the deal about Las Vegas what is great about it?
Jimmy Vasser: It's easy to travel in an out of. The weather is fantastic. I know it appears to be pretty hot when you look at the weather maps at times, but it's that old thing, it is a dry heat and it doesn't feel that bad, so you know, the desert is a beautiful place and there are some tax advantages to living in Nevada. I think those are probably the three biggest reasons. We got - by the way, we got three Canadians living here, both (Alex) Tagliani and (Patrick) Carpentier are living here too with (Paul) Tracy. It's a good environment to train in, you go for a run in the heat and it conditions you for the long races.
Q: How do you prepare going into Chicago? Is it a physically demanding track?
Jimmy Vasser: No. No, it's not very physically demanding. The ovals tend to be a lot less physical than the road courses, but it's every bit as mentally demanding, and when you have to have such a high level of mental concentration, you can't get mentally fatigued; particularly on the ovals you have to balance the car on a nice edge, and - but it all goes back to having a good chassis. The better the car is working, the much easier it is from behind the wheel.
Q: Traction control, you mentioned that at the beginning. For those who listen to Focus on Racing Radio who may not understand it, when traction control kicks in, can you feel that?
Jimmy Vasser: Oh, yeah. Really traction control is just a reduction in the horsepower. It senses rear-wheel spin and compared to the front and the rears are spinning faster than the front, and it chokes the engine down. And you can set it where it cuts us two cylinders or four cylinders or even six cylinders on the engine. So really you don't want to have - you don't want the traction control to come on because really what it's doing is just taking horsepower away and you can certainly feel it in the car, you can feel it impedes your forward progress a little bit when it comes on.
Q: It's interesting because that's one of the big controversies in NASCAR is everybody's claiming that the other driver has that little traction control box hidden on his car. What are your thoughts about that and because you have been in sedans before, is that something that really helps a race team that much, that someone would try to cheat to have one?
Jimmy Vasser: Well, I don't know anything about anybody cheating.
Q: I am not talking in your series.
Jimmy Vasser: No, or even in NASCAR, but it certainly could help, particularly like on a race where NASCAR was last weekend, the cars are so big, and the tires are proportionately very small for the car and the cars are very heavy, it certainly could be an advantage.
Q: How did the golf tournament go out there at Laguna?
Jimmy Vasser: Went fantastic. It was a beautiful day. We had a good turnout, and it was our 7th year and we went over the $250,000 mark that we have donated to Monterey Boys and Girls Club.
Q: Going into Chicago this is going to be the first two-day event maybe you have ever been in or certainly in recent memory. How are you preparing for this differently than the normal three-day event?
Jimmy Vasser: Well, we obviously we have to make the right decisions in the first practice session before qualification. We have to make it happen, and I have been on the phone with our engineers and we're making some changes to our basic setup from the Milwaukee weekend. We had a decent car but it wasn't fantastic, and so, you know, in that respect, we're going to be forced to unload with a really good car, hopefully, I got my fingers crossed that we don't have to do too much work in the one session because if it's not right, you are really pressed on time to get the car right.
Q: Do you think this is kind of a wave of the future or do you think a two-day event is going to become that popular?
Jimmy Vasser: I think it's quite possible it could be a wave of the future. I am excited about it. I think it puts a little more pressure on getting things right on Saturday, and it's going to be different. So I can't wait to get to the weekend to see how it is, I think it going to be a lot of fun with making it two days.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your role within Team Rahal this year and how you see it, and how you are getting along with it?
Jimmy Vasser: It's a great energy in the team. We started out the season really, really well. I think we had good off-season testing, and my teammate Michel Jourdain is doing a fantastic job and been finishing races and has been up in the Championship fight. People on the team are really excited about that.
We have been a bit disappointed I think over the last month and a half with things the way they have been going with myself - falling out of the Indy 500 and these last three races we really haven't been in contention like we should be. So we're a little bit disappointed right now about the performance of the Shell team, and myself, and we need to get on the stick and make it happen in these next three races. We need to get back into the points fight and we just got to keep our heads down and keep working. I think that we have all the tools that we need to win races in the trailer, and Bobby Rahal and the team has given us all the things we need. We just need to put it together and find our form again.
Merrill Cain: Jimmy, we made it pretty quick for you today. We appreciate you spending a few minutes with us on the teleconference. We wish you good luck in this weekend's CART Grand Prix of Chicago. We'll just see you in a couple of days.
Jimmy Vasser: Thank you very much.
Jimmy Vasser press conference part I