Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript March 9, 2004 Robby Gordon, Thomas Knapp and Gary Peterson Gary Peterson , team owner/driver Meanrds Infiniti Pro Series MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We'd like to welcome two new ...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
March 9, 2004 Robby Gordon, Thomas Knapp and Gary Peterson
Gary Peterson , team owner/driver Meanrds Infiniti Pro Series
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We'd like to welcome two new names in 2004 to today's IndyCar teleconference. Menards Infiniti Pro Series owner/driver Gary Peterson, who last week announced his team would make its 2004 season debut in Phoenix next week, joins us on today's call. Later Indianapolis 500 veteran Robby Gordon will talk about his plans to run the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May. Gary, let's start with you. Thank you very much for joining us today.
GARY PETERSON: Okay.
Q: We've heard you have an interest in fielding a two-car team in 2004, but at this point only one car, with you behind the wheel, will be entered in the Phoenix race next weekend. Are there plans to have a second car in 2004 at some point?
GARY PETERSON: Yeah. We ran two cars last year. G.J. Mennen was my driver and then myself. And we are actually close to having somebody in that second car for Phoenix. That's why I was a little bit late getting to the phone. I was on a conference call. We probably will have an announcement tomorrow for the second driver for the Phoenix race.
Q: You will have a second car at Phoenix?
GARY PETERSON: Yeah, looks like it's going to happen.
Q: Any chance we could get a second name out of you or not?
GARY PETERSON: No, I can't do it. I was trying to, but they have to wait until tomorrow morning.
Q: I understand. You've obviously been a successful businessman with AFS. How has that helped you become a team owner in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series?
GARY PETERSON: It's helped a lot. We have 350 employees here, with the different departments. Trying to keep everything together, keep everybody happy in the organization, it's a tough situation in running this business, and also trying to run the race team. I'd like to step out of it a little bit more and have somebody else be involved a bit more, so I've been working towards that. But all in all, they're both a business, and you have to treat them as a business. That's about all I can say about it.
Q: What are some of the challenges of being an owner/driver in such a competitive sport?
GARY PETERSON: Well, just like this. I was two minutes late for your press conference. I had another call coming through. I was trying to get off. It's just last minute trying to catch an airplane to get back to Indianapolis to get everything organized. Just things change constantly in a business. Meetings come up that are important. You have to rearrange your schedule. As far as the racing part of it, driving the race car is the easy part. I think everybody that owns a team or runs a team would say that. It's hard to keep both things going at the same time.
Q: Gary, have you ever talked to Eddie Cheever and compared notes on what it was like to be both a businessman and also a driver?
GARY PETERSON: I haven't talked to Eddie directly on that. I've talked to him. I've talked to numerous other drivers in the past in my former Atlantic career that I had for 10 years. I haven't talked to Eddie. But I know exactly what he went through. This is supposed to be my last year of driving. I am going to step out of the car after this season. Hopefully that will ease up everything that goes with it, a little more pressure, and we can do better with the two-car team next year.
Q: As an older driver, do you kind of get pleasure out of running with the young guys like Arie Luyendyk, Jr.?
GARY PETERSON: I really do. I've got such support from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the safety team. I would step out if I wasn't competitive. Other than the accidents I've been involved with, which are out of my control, we run right up at the top with them. I do enjoy it. But I think I will enjoy stepping out, getting a young driver, working with him, bringing him up through the ranks.
Q: Would you like to get one through the ranks to the Indy 500? Is that kind of your goal?
GARY PETERSON: Yes, it is. My goal, my dream, like everybody else, was to run the Indianapolis 500. But just with what it takes to do it, finances, the time, it isn't going to happen with me. So I think that's the only way I'd be able to live my dream, is to do that. A great friend of mine passed away last week, Louie Unser. Louie and I were tight. He started me in this racing career I have. You know, we talked about it. Louie wasn't able to drive it, but he lived his dream in bringing up his brother and the other people he's been involved with.
Q: Going back to kind of the balance between being an owner and driver, do you feel on race weekend it's almost a sense of relief to get to the racetrack and finally get in the race car? Is that really your get-away?
GARY PETERSON: Yes. That's exactly right. When I get to the racetrack, you go in that zone every driver talks about, and I forget about the business. Basically I focus on racing. For me, I mean, my blood pressure drops, everything gets in slow motion. It's great euphoria. It is a release for me from this business.
Q: Did you become a race car driver and then an owner? What was first?
GARY PETERSON: Well, they kind of started at the same time. I started racing in the desert; off-road racing, motorcycle racing, like most of us did in California. Rick Mears, Roger Mears, a whole bunch of us started here. I had a sponsorship, but it wasn't enough. So I actually started my own business to go racing. That is kind of how I did it. The business got larger and larger, what always happens in the business, you run out of time, have the money, but you don't have time to do what you love. Time just slipped by since I started.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Gary. We appreciate you joining us on today's call. See you next week down in Phoenix.
GARY PETERSON: Thank you.