Champ Car World Series An interview with The 2003 Speed Channel Broadcast Team Part 1 of 3 Eric Mauk: Welcome to the Champ Car World Series teleconference presented by WorldCom for the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series ...
Champ Car World Series
An interview with The 2003 Speed Channel Broadcast Team
Part 1 of 3
Eric Mauk: Welcome to the Champ Car World Series teleconference presented by WorldCom for the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, as we continue to look forward to this week's season opener. Today we have some media on the call to re introduce some old friends to you as we talk about the 2003 broadcast team who will be bringing you the action of the Champ Car World Series on SPEED Channel and also on CBS Sports.
Today we are joined by the president of SPEED Channel, Jim Liberatore, along with the president of Lingner Group Productions Terry Lingner, as well as race analysts Tommy Kendall, Calvin Fish and Derek Daly. Welcome to the call and thanks for joining us today.
Let's go ahead and start with Jim Liberatore and you can lead the rest of these guys into this. If you would, just tell us your thoughts about getting this thing started and starting off the season with your coverage on SPEED Channel.
Jim Liberatore: This is our second year and I think in conjunction with Lingner Group last year, I think we have set a standard of production that we are going to have to do our best to surpass this year. I think we really had a great year in terms of growth and we are really getting ready to continue what we started last year, and that is to present Champ Car in a way that the fans of this country are used to. And that again, will be live coverage and a lot of time with the drivers, as well as the race themselves. And then, you know, trying to do some different things production wise that really can put you behind the wheel, which Terry can talk about anything that we are planning on doing there.
Bob Varsha is not on and Scott Pruett is not on, I guess he's testing, but we are ready if you have any questions and want to know what's going on this year, I think we are real excited to get started again.
Mauk: Terry, like Jim said, you set the bar very high this year with a lot of innovations that people had not seen. Tell us a little bit about what you have up your sleeve this year for us.
Terry Lingner: Thank you. It was really gratifying and rewarding, and certainly Jim knows this, you can't do those things without the appropriate people at the top and the folks that will allow you to spend the money to R&D and do things right. So from that standpoint, SPEED Channel definitely needs to be commended for that.
I think from the standpoint of this year, and Jim hit it on the head, and same thing I've been telling our staff, we have got to continue to innovate, but we have got to continue now. We have a new chore; obviously, with so many new personalities and exciting personalities nonetheless, with the folks we got to meet at Spring Training. You will still see the visor-cam and the aerial platforms that we have used in the past, the robotic cameras. We have hired a new on board camera vendor, who is actually bringing back someone that had done it for years, Broadcast Sports Technology; and certainly Calvin and Derek will be able to speak to the thrill of having these guys back with us. They are certainly the recognized leader in the country of doing RF cameras and on board cameras.
So, I don't know, I think we have got some really nice plans. The openings and some of the animations with the new logos have come out really, really strong. But above all, we still want people to just flat out know that we are enthusiastic to be there, and we want to communicate the fun and the excitement. If we can't tell a viewer, or if we can't communicate the feeling that when we get off the air, these people wish that, hey, I want to go to St. Pete next year- that should be our goal. I think the chemistry that the announcers displayed last year, and hopefully the fun that we were having in the truck, that communicated to America and the world. So we are really juiced up.
Mauk: One other point, guys in bringing the fun and excitement of the Champ Car World Series is Mr. Tommy Kendall, a former Trans-Am champion; first year back with the series last year and obviously brought a new insight and a lot of fun to the program. Coming back at it for another year, are you excited to this get this thing role up?
Tommy Kendall: As my old friend Dale Earnhardt said, "let's drop the rag, I'm ready to go." Last year I had a great time. I can't say enough about the team, both the on air, which I think that was obvious to everybody how we worked together, but really it starts with Terry and trickles down with where he kind of turned me loose. And I knew that being myself was exactly what they were asking, and I knew I was going to be supported in that.
Having said that, I have to say I was eight-tenths in terms of some of my candor last year, and I wasn't really totally aware of it until I thought about it going into this year, kind of from about midseason on, I made the conscious decision to try to scale it back a notch in terms of that eight-tenths. I knew Chris Pook had a lot of fires he was trying to put out and manage. And I know that when I'm totally frank, I can start some more fires for him to deal with. There were a number of times when I wanted to say this team owner or that team owner was acting like a jack ass and didn't; and this year, rest assured, that I will.
The owners are kind of notoriously high maintenance, and so I think that- not saying they are good or bad -but sometimes they are jack asses and sometimes they are superstars, but it's up to me to when I think each and so I feel like I can kind of have got the green light, at least for myself to go for that.
As far as the drivers themselves, I mean, a lot of new faces. I think if you keep losing guys over and over and over, it's hard to grow a series, but having said that, before Dario Franchitti came here, before Tony Kanaan came here, before Alex Zanardi came here, we don't know who any of those guys were and we fell in love with them. So I'm sure that there are some in this crop who will separate themselves from the pack as far as the kind of guys we are going to look to. And I'm sure there's going to be some dead wood, too. I'm going to be there with both barrels, and if guys are not doing their job, I'm going to be pointing that out, as well. I think we'll have plenty to talk about both good and bad.
Mauk: We definitely look forward to it. Calvin, as Tommy said, a lot of new faces. What are your takes on some of the early news stories we need to look at from pit row?
Calvin Fish: I think there's going to be a lot of excitement, and the pit windows with the new XFE engine program that will allow the series to control some of the races and certainly get away from the few economy runs that we had a couple, three years ago, so they are still in control of all of that. I think that the new rules packages will try and make sure everything is a bit more exciting, working on the final downforce issues with that. We are just moving forward. As Tommy said, a lot of new faces and some of the guys we've seen for the past five, ten years came out of nowhere, and in the four days has been very spectacular, and I'm sure Newman/Haas has come out of the box even with a different engine program and been very strong. I think those two boys [Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais] are going to keep themselves on their toes.
So that's going to be exciting to look at. A potential new star in Ryan Hunter Ray, with Rob Hill and Stefan Johansson, and he has probably got the ultimate teammate, Jimmy Vasser. So he's going to be strong, and some of these other guys, Darren Manning coming over, he showed what he can do in the one race he did last year, he's back. And some other new names, such as Lemarie, so there is a lot to look forward to. I think it's going to be very exciting when you mix that group in with some of the veterans such as Jimmy and PT [Paul Tracy] and Patrick [Carpentier]and some of the guys who have been there for a couple of years, I think it's going to be a very exciting mix. A lot of the great teams are still with us. We lost a few, certainly, but with the stability with the rules package and the financial incentives that Chris [Pook] and his team have really laid out there, it's become attractive for a lot of new teams to come into the series, and we are certainly seeing that with some new teams and teams moving over from other series as well.
So, I'm really looking forward to it. A great place to start in Florida where the sun will be shining all weekend and can't wait to get going.
Mauk: Your partner in crime this year will be Derek Daly down on pit row. A lot of good positives about the series this year coming out of Spring Training and pretty good feelings throughout the paddock. Obviously, this is not your first Champ Car rodeo; do you think the positive buzz is warranted for this 2003 season?
Derek Daly: I think it is, definitely, because there's an intrigue about the unknown, and we are going into an unknown season this year, unlike anything in the last, probably, 15 or 20 years, with CART.
Going back to what Terry said earlier, one of the things that SPEED Channel allowed us to do this year was basically turn us loose. If you ask me, memories of last year, why I think some of the reasons why we had so much fun doing what we did, when we had that much fun, it got transferred into the living rooms of the fans watching.
I mean, I still get people that come up and talk to me about Long Beach. I mean, getting on the pit wall inside the hairpin leaning over virtually in the cockpit, we had never had access like that before, yet everybody got together and said let's bring people to where they have not been to before.
Our ability I think to read situations and what comes right to my mind is when Chip Ganassi got on and said that [Cristiano] da Matta should be thrown out of the series when he had the qualifying incident in [Mazda Raceway] Laguna Seca, we have the freedom to just jam a microphone in a guy's face; that they trust us enough to know that we are not ambushing them, just capturing the live television that you don't normally see.
To me, that epitomized from my point of view the different approach we took last year. And we'll do the same again this year and uncover more unusual stories and just enjoy the ride along the way. If there are no stories, we'll talk about Tommy's girlfriends, or as he calls them, his two legged show dogs.