Sarah Fisher Racing Press Conference Transcript 2008 Indy 500 Media Tour Tuesday, April 8, 2008 BOB JENKINS: She doesn't need much introduction. Sarah Fisher is in the middle, who is now the owner and driver of her car. We'll eat lunch...
Sarah Fisher Racing Press Conference Transcript
2008 Indy 500 Media Tour
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
BOB JENKINS: She doesn't need much introduction. Sarah Fisher is in the middle, who is now the owner and driver of her car. We'll eat lunch after the Q & A, and I'll turn it over to Sarah and she can make the introductions and tell you about her plans for this year. Sarah.
SARAH FISHER: Thank you, Bob.
Thank you, everyone, for coming. Obviously, today establishing our shop is the first step toward our 2008 racing season and toward the future of Sarah Fisher Racing. We are very excited about the opportunity that lay ahead. You know, it's very exciting for me to come back here. I remember when I was 19 years old and coming here at Indy and knowing how incredible the opportunity was to compete here as a driver. And now under the umbrella of Sarah Fisher Racing I get to come here and compete as an owner/driver. So it's very exciting for me.
You know, obviously, the responsibilities are going to change a little bit as an owner, but it will not distract, it will not take away from my commitment to being a driver for the Indianapolis 500 and beyond.
Our plans include starting at the Indianapolis 500 and ending with Kentucky and Chicago races at the end of the year. You know, it's great. I'm very excited to get back in the car and to get running again, to get testing and get back on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That's what it's all about, and we're obviously very enthusiastic about making that happen.
For sure, it wouldn't happen, it wouldn't have come to fruition if it weren't for Tony Venturoso, who is president of Gravity Motorsports and his ResQ.
Tony, if you want to talk about our plans and marketing going forward.
TONY VENTUROSO: Thank you, Sarah. I'm very privileged to be part of the Sarah Fisher Racing team. This is a great family, a great team. I feel privileged and the opportunity for us to participate in this groundbreaking opportunity is significant. And all of us at Gravity Motorsports and ResQ, we are a business partner with the energy drink ResQ, and we feel this is a tremendous, tremendous platform in which to announce our energy drink. Certainly with Sarah Fisher.
We spent some time with Sarah over the past several months, and the more and more we spend time together with this group, the decision we made to go with Sarah Fisher Racing was absolutely right on. We're so thrilled to be here.
This is not just a one-time event for us. Obviously, we're excited for the Indy 500; it's a spectacular opportunity for us. Given the unification of open-wheel, we feel that the popularity will continue to grow and spike in the next coming months and years with the Indy Racing Series, and we want to be part of this and Sarah Fisher for years to come.
As we get further down the road, more plans will be announced with Sarah Fisher and upcoming opportunities. But Sarah Fisher is our spokesperson for ResQ. There's nobody better in the field of sports and athletics than Sarah Fisher, and we're proud to be associated with the team. This is a great team; they've got 80 years of experience. Even though this is a new team starting, I think you'll find the people within this organization are very well thought of, very talented. So we know you'll see Sarah Fisher in the winner's circle with ResQ at some point, and we hope very soon.
FISHER: Thank you very much, Tony. We appreciate your partnership, and we look forward to all the exciting plans coming forward.
John O'Gara is also sitting to my right. He is a partner with me in this venture going forward. He can elaborate a little more on the technical progress for our team and as it prepares for the month of May. So, John, if you want to address that.
JOHN O'GARA: Thank you, and once again thank you for everybody coming. We've come a long way in the last couple months. It wouldn't be possible without all these guys in the white shirts behind you. It's our team. You guys are more than welcome to walk through the machine shop. We look about two months ago at some used machinery, and we made a decision to go with all-new stuff. You can see some of the projects that Dave Fisher has been working on, the rest of the guys in the shop. Feel free to walk back there, and the guys will show you around. This is our race car that we'll race here at Indy. This is just the tub sitting here; the rest is in the paint shop. But it's been through all the updates with the anti-intrusion panels, and the guys can show you what it's all about and maybe get an inside look there.
We're really very excited. We have a good group of guys. They may not have the last name Fisher or O'Gara, but they're family. If you have any questions, feel free.
JENKINS: We do need to get a mike to you if you have a question.
Q: I'm from Germany. I have three questions to you, Sarah. The first one, what's the main reason to make the decision to become a team owner? The second question is for the future. Are you planning to expand to two- or maybe more car team? And question No. 3, how difficult was it for you going from NASCAR back into open-wheel?
FISHER: Well, to answer your first question -- what was it again? (Laughter)
Q: The main reason why you --
FISHER: Oh, why I wanted to be a team owner. Well, you know, when you're racing as a driver and when you have a big group of people in your family that has input and knows what they're doing, you think about the way that you want to maybe move forward and some things that you would do differently. I married my crew chief, Andy O'Gara, and obviously our year last year with him being my chief mechanic went well because we went through with the wedding. (Laughter)
But in thinking together our plans for the future as a married couple now, we got to thinking around maybe May, June, about taking it on ourself and being able to make the decisions going forward that we wanted to make and have that reflect in our own team. So I think he's the one that originally brought it up to me. So it's all on his shoulders, right?
No, it's something we're very passionate about, and we started to talk to a bunch of people about all of our marketing partners and the people from the Speedway about the opportunities and would it be really ridiculous to do this or could we fully execute it? And it was very positive feedback, and everybody was behind it and so we went to start selling it. It wouldn't have happened without Tony and our partnership with ResQ. That's a very important partnership going forward to start up because it's very difficult your first year to get rolling.
JENKINS: Second question was about expansion.
FISHER: Expansion, I would love to be a two-car team. Man, that would be amazing, right? But right now we have to focus on our first car effort and make sure it's a solid one, that we have solid results. We have solid expectations, so we need to meet those first. If there would be an opportunity at Indy to run a second car if it makes sense to our team financially, we'll do so. We're not afraid to branch out; we weren't afraid to start here and go forward:
JENKINS: The third one was NASCAR going back to open-wheel.
FISHER: That's a no-brainer. I grew up in the open-wheel ranks. I grew up in sprint cars and midgets, go-karts. When you grow up in the open-wheel world, that's where you want to go, you want to compete in the open-wheel world. For me, I got an opportunity to go race NASCAR and go race in the West Series with Richard Childress Racing and his farm team, Bill McInally. But when the opportunity arose and Dennis Reinbold gave me another opportunity to come back, that was an obvious decision. I love IndyCars; my heart is here at the Indianapolis 500, and so much that I even started my own team to compete here, so it's very important and I'm glad I made it back.
JENKINS: Sarah, some people have probably already made the connection between that number up there and the one that you're running this year.
FISHER: For certain. We chose the No. 67 because I don't know if No. 9 is visible on the sprint car, which is my dad and mine's favorite number. We couldn't have that because I'm sure Chip (Ganassi) wouldn't give that up. But 67 is the next best number. We won a lot of races, five out of 23 races that year, so hopefully the No. 67 will carry on some significance for us.
Q: Sarah, with the bonus money out there, why couldn't you get this team started at the beginning of the year? And then just to clarify, you're going to start at Indy and run the rest of the season? I wasn't quite clear on that.
FISHER: We're going to start our season at Indy and finish up with just Kentucky and Chicago right now. That's the plan.
To answer your question starting the team with the bonus money, I think that's great the structure they've put in place, but it certainly doesn't support a team for the whole year. That doesn't equate to the sponsorship dollars that you need to run every single race. It's in addition and it helps, but it's not the whole bucket.
FISHER: I couldn't have answered them all. Are you kidding? I know there's more questions out there. Yes, please.
Q: Do you hope then to be full time next year, is it just sponsor-driven?
FISHER: That's our plan right now. And some of what we're looking at with Tony and going forward. He said there's more exciting stuff we want to release here soon. So we would love to do that, and this isn't just a start-up year that's going to end at the end of the year. We're a full-fledged team going forward. We have big plans for the future, and this is the start. This gives us the year to build on, gives us a year to sort out who's running the team, who does what. Fortunately for myself as the driver/owner commitment goes, I don't run the team on a day-to-day basis, that's Johnny O, he takes care of all those things and decisions for me. So that makes the commitment to being a driver, you know, a hundred percent as it was before.
Q: Sarah, another question concerning the latest Dallara. I just see that you made your IndyCar debut in 1999 and I saw you driving for Walker I think in 2000 at Walt Disney Speedway. Is there any big difference from that time to the current car driving-wise?
FISHER: Driving-wise, yeah. You know, there are some differences. They're a little bit harder to get total grip out of, you know. We've made a lot of gains safety-wise. They're a lot different safety structure-wise than they were in '99. So when you look past '99 and even go back into the further years before that, they keep increasing and making changes to make them better and better.
Q: You talked about sponsor money and I would have to say that you probably have more commercials on in Indianapolis than any other driver, even Danica Patrick. So is that sponsor money that is old money or are there other sponsorships out there right now for this team?
FISHER: As you can see, AAA is still on the car; our folks from AAA are here with us today to celebrate in this announcement and our unveiling. AAA has put a lot of emphasis and activation thought into the market, especially Indianapolis. We're working on growing that relationship. It's still here. They even stepped it up this year to become part of our on-track program as well as myself personally. So that will continue to grow. You'll continue to see more commercials than you can stand, and that's great for us. TAG Heuer is even going to do some billboards this year, so that's going to go back where that relationship was in 2003. So it's going to get worse. Sorry. (Laughter)
JENKINS: Anyone else?
Q: How tough is it going to be at your first race at Indy, do you do a lot of testing at Indy or pretty much rely on your experience?
FISHER: No, we don't have that slated right now. We have a lot of good plans in the works right now and have a lot of good people that are lined up to help us with Indy that, you know, it would be nice to get out at Kansas, but right now I don't think it's going to work for us. You know, I'd love to be there and love to have more time on the track, and with testing rules it's not like we can just go off to Phoenix and have a good time out there getting ready. So we plan to do the best job that we can. We are as prepared as we ever have been as the group of people that we are that have worked together in the past. We know where we've started Indy before, and we know where we're going to start Indy this year, and there's a big difference.
Q: A question for John. You've been with D & R a long time, and I know your responsibilities here are going to be somewhat similar to what they were before, but what particular challenges do you have now that you've got a stake in the program?
O'GARA: Well, you know, just starting out it was, wasn't all me, it was everybody but assembling a group of people that all work toward a common goal. I mean, I dare anybody to find a better group of guys, to assemble a better group of guys to work on the race car. These guys will do anything. We started with a bare shop and you can see what we have now, and that's happened in a very short amount of time. It's going to be very similar to D & R. I was there for eight years, so...
JENKINS: OK, we're going to wrap up the Q & A session. One-on-ones will be available with Sarah and others. And lunch is served, but we will board the buses for our next stop at 12:30, which is about 35 minutes from now. Thank you.
FISHER: Thank you, everyone. (Applause)