IRL: Indy 500 Media Day press conference, Part III

Indy 500 Media Day: "What to Expect This May" Wednesday, March 26, 2003 Brian Barnhart, Bob Jenkins, Scott Goodyear, Mike King and Davey Hamilton. Part 3 of 3 King: Brian, given to the unique set of circumstances that led to the finish...

Indy 500 Media Day: "What to Expect This May"
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Brian Barnhart, Bob Jenkins, Scott Goodyear, Mike King and Davey Hamilton.

Part 3 of 3

King: Brian, given to the unique set of circumstances that led to the finish last year in the 500, as far as race control goes for this year's race, have there been any procedural changes or will it be pretty much as it operated last year?

Barnhart: Well, we always look at our rule book at the end of the year and evaluate any situations that have developed over the course of the year, whether it's technical specifications, procedural or operational rules. And after May of 2002's race, it was no different. We went back and examined that. There's really only a couple options. I guess to answer your question quickly, we have not changed anything procedurally or from an operational standpoint in regards to what happened last May. We went back and looked at it. Your options are to either race back to the flag or to go back to the start-finish line of the lap before. If you look at that situation of that scenario, you can easily come up with reasons why not to do either. If you go back to -- and obviously for safety reasons, it is not in our best interest of the IndyCar Series to race back to the flag. If you go back to the previous lap with a track that's two and a half miles long, you could easily have a different leader at the start-finish line of the lap before, have somebody pass somebody in Turn One, lead for two miles, and if a yellow comes out at Turn Four, and if that's the white flag lap, you're going to give the race back to the guy who's now been in second place for two miles. So it doesn't make a lot of sense to go back to the lap before, and it certainly doesn't make sense to race back. The procedures and rules that we have in place are the best for the IndyCar Series, and after examining them we've not made any changes operationally or procedurally.

Q: Brian, as you mentioned, all new equipment this year, new chassis and engine and everything. There's been some concern in the industry that there might be a shortage of the new equipment during the month of May. Has any consideration been given to grandfathering and allowing the older equipment to run this May to guarantee a full field?

Barnhart: As I mentioned earlier, Bruce, we don't have any concerns of meeting at least 33 cars. We anticipate, as I say, probably 38 to 40-car/driver combinations. Part of the reason we went to the new equipment is safety-mandated changes and we've been very pleased with the way those cars are performing. There's no thought or consideration given to grandfathering any old equipment.

Q: With the Pro Series Racing this year, when will they be practicing? How much time will they get to practice, and also what would be a rain date for the Pro Series?

Barnhart: Right now we're trying to finalize a schedule with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but I think preliminarily we're going to do an open test for the Infiniti Pro Series cars, I believe it's April 17th will be the first time that they're on track. They'll be on track all day long in an open-test format. I'm going to go off the top of my head here, I believe Thursday, May 15th is going to be their first activity on track when we share with the IndyCar Series. They will run in the morning, probably run in the ballpark of 9:00 to 11:30, so probably get two and a half hours that day of practice on track, and then the IndyCar Series would come back and run from noon to six. Friday, the 16th, will be the same type of scenario, they'll get a morning practice session. We'll run the IndyCar Series for an hour or two, and then we'll come back and qualify the Infiniti Pro cars in the afternoon. Run the IndyCar Series more for the rest of the afternoon, and then do Infiniti Pro cars with a full tank session probably from 5:30 to 6:00 that night, and that will be their final practice. Come in Saturday the 17th and we'll start the morning with IndyCar Series practice for a couple hours, shut down, do pre-race for the Infiniti Pro Series. And I believe the Infiniti Pro Series starts at 2:00 on the 17th. At this point in time, rain date would be Sunday, the 18th, I believe. That's not been finalized, that needs to be worked out with the Speedway people as well.

Q: (Inaudible)

Barnhart: I think we would probably do the race before Bump Day gets going. I think qualify Sunday is (noon) to 6 p.m. So we would run the pro race before that. I don't think we would take any qualifying time away from the cars on Bump Day.

King: Brian has to attend a meeting, we need to get him out of here. He will be back around ten o'clock. If you have any other questions for Brian, if you could hold those. We'll keep Bob, Scott and Davey for just a couple minutes. Brian, I know you've got to go. We appreciate it. We'll see you back here shortly after ten. Anyone else with questions for Brian, be assured he will be back in a little over an hour but he has to attend a meeting. Any other questions for our remaining panelists, Scott Goodyear, Bob Jenkins or Davey Hamilton?

Q: Davey, talk a little bit about your prolonged recovery and what it's meant to you to still be involved in racing at this point.

Hamilton: Well, it's definitely been a long recovery. Obviously the wreck happened almost two years ago this coming June. Thank God for the IRL and IMS for putting together the best medical staff in the world as far as I'm concerned, Dr. Kevin Scheid (?). It all started with Dr. Bock putting the program together. They were the ones that were able to save my feet in Texas. They wanted to amputate. So I've come a long ways from them. I'm actually doing great. I'm up, as you can tell, walking. I've been in race cars, I've tested for A.J. at Phoenix, I've tested my super modified, Silver Crown cars for George Snyder, getting laps in. But the situation that I have is I had a lot of nerve, muscle, skin damage as well as bone damage. So my feet tend to go to sleep like in race-type conditions. And they do that throughout the day really just -- I'm good walking but when I do certain things, they bother me. Not a lot of pain but just I focus too much on my feet and not enough on the driving part of it. So I'm just trying to overcome that. I am going to work very hard this year, continue testing. Hopefully try to get in some short-track racing, get back in the sprint cars and some midgets and stuff. Just take it kind of like a rookie again, so to speak. I feel I just need to get the endurance back up, make sure I can race a long race and be able to focus on the race and not my feet. The encouraging part of the whole thing was when I did get back in the race cars, yeah, I got back right up to speed. That wasn't an issue, which was nice to know that the feeling came back, the enjoyment of driving a race car came back. I definitely want to do it again. God willing, my feet will get healthy enough to where I can do that.

Q: Bob, I'm curious, you anchored the 500 the first time as the Voice of the 500 in '89; is that right?

Jenkins: '90.

King: I know what I experienced in '99 the first time I did it. What was the feeling like for you? Because you had been a part of the network for quite a while at that point.

Jenkins: I was scared. (Laughter) Yeah, I had been on Turn Four I believe from '81 to '90, so I had observed the race from that standpoint. And I guess I was aware of everything that the anchor had to do during a broadcast but it didn't sink in until we went on the air. And to coordinate everything -- you know, in television -- which of course I had been working with ESPN -- in television you're basically sitting in the booth and you're taking direction from your producer and sometimes a director and you're basically following what they tell you to do and what they want to do. But when I was given the job of anchoring the 500, I suddenly realized that I had to keep track of what I was saying, which wasn't easy, but also coordinating getting information from all of the reporters on the turns. You had to somehow work in your four or five pit reporters and have some idea of where they were and what they wanted to say. Plus you're watching the clock and trying to do your commercial breaks at about the time that you have told the affiliates that you are going to do them. And it was quite an experience. In fact, I have always said and will always say that that was the most difficult job that I have ever done in broadcasting, was anchoring the 500. Quite frankly, I was happy when I went over to the TV side and left the job to you. (Laughter)

King: Scott, Davey hasn't experienced it yet, but being out of the car on race day here is different in how many ways and still working the event?

Goodyear: Well, for me I was ready because I went from being full time in 2000 to just doing the 500 was my plan anyways for the next few years and got involved in the Infiniti program and did a lot of development work there and to get ready for May of 2001. So for me I guess I was more taking in everything that was going around us on race day last year more as a spectator and more in awe of everything. I'm not sure that I ever really missed what was going to be happening as far as if I was driving a car. I did feel that a couple of times throughout the month, I think on Fast Friday because I always loved it because it was always pure speed and it was a day that you trimmed the car out and still try to keep your foot flat all the way around. I walked down in Turn One and I was watching the cars go around and I found myself standing there more starting to think as a driver and watching the cars go around, sort of feel it through my body. Then realized that I came down here to sort of watch the cars and take some notes and get some information. I found myself not doing that. So I had to turn around and realize and say, okay, that's not what I am here for. So there's only been really a couple instances I think that for me it was that situation. But I was more focused on race day last year once we started to get going just to make sure that, you know, I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing, didn't miss anything. You're very much aware that you're going live on TV every time you do it and you want to make sure that you are prepared for it. I approach it the same way I did when I was driving, just try to be prepared.

As Bob said, you know, I find TV very busy, so I'm not sure that I will ever be able to do radio, because the TV is -- you know, when you're in a race car, you're driving and you've got the hum of the engine going and you're by yourself and you're focusing on what's going on in front of you, trying to make the turn. Obviously you're dealing with the cars in front of you, people trying to get past behind you, occasional radio information coming to you. You don't watch the dash that much these days because it's all by telemetry so if there's something going on, you get an alarm on the dash which lets you know that you should pay attention to something going on with the engine or what have you, and there again through telemetry they're watching it in the pit. So it's almost easier sitting in the car driving it, because when you're sitting in the booth you're passing notes back and forth to each other, you're paying attention to what's going on your screen, the scoring and timing monitor, you're listening to the producer in your ear. And even when you're talking, all of us, the producer is usually talking and somebody is coming and calling up from the pits and they want to report this next. So whenever you hear us talking, we're talking with somebody talking in our ear, which is not the easiest thing to do. I said this a few times, and I said it to my wife Leslie when I came home after the first event last year, I said, "Thank goodness we have three kids and they all talk at the same time." (Laughter). It's one of those deals where you're driving down the highway, okay, we're going to stop, who wants to go to Subway. "Oh, I want to go" -- they have all talked at the same time and you've heard every one of them and it's exactly what goes on, so thank goodness for three kids.

King: Scott, Bob, Davey, thanks. We have our next press conference set in about five or six minutes. These guys I'm sure, if you need to get one-on-ones, would be glad to hang around for a few minutes. It's a pleasure to be associated with you and I look forward to the month of May.

Part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Davey Hamilton , Scott Goodyear , Brian Barnhart