Robert Yates Racing officially announced a partnership with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Following is a transcript of the press conference: ROBERT YATES "I'm happy to be here. It's an exciting day...
Robert Yates Racing officially announced a partnership with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Following is a transcript of the press conference:
ROBERT YATES "I'm happy to be here. It's an exciting day for me. It's wonderful. We've got a group of people that are going to complement us and grow our business to make this what we want to be and what they want to be. I think we've picked out the right partner and we're happy that they came to us. I did have a little disappointing thing happen to me just a couple minutes ago that I didn't know was on the deal, but I had worked on Paul Newman's car 40 years ago at Daytona and made his car run better. Of course, we've spent different times with the Texaco sponsorship through the years and it was always fun to be around him. I really thought he knew what my value is to this sport, but today I found out that he thought it was mostly about being a good cheater (laughter). He was all excited about me cheating and I said, 'Well, I actually went to the university of, I can't tell you where, but I learned a lot about that and I've been trying to clean my act up ever since.' I think we're gonna try to the new approach, which is engineering, design and make good race cars with that."
CARL HAAS "I think it's really exciting and I'm honored to have this happen and being together with people that are so knowledgeable, particularly in this type of racing. I don't know exactly what to tell you, but Robert being in this program, and I've known him for a long time -- not that close, but I think it's gonna be a good program that we're putting together. The people we have, I think, is really the way to go."
MIKE LANIGAN "First of all, on behalf of Carl and Paul, we're extremely excited about joining forces with Robert Yates and Doug Yates. Of course, Robert has been around for, he says 40 years now, and Paul and Carl have been racing for 25 years. I think the common denominator you'll see is that Robert Yates Racing and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing are racers from the top to the bottom. We're dedicated to winning. Our history has been winning. We certainly understand in NASCAR today how competitive it is, but we do believe by joining forces we can get to the front and give our drivers an opportunity to win. Newman/Haas/Lanigan has always been known as an engineering driven team. Carl has guided that over the last 25 years. We think we can enhance the Robert Yates organization and being that today you put four tires on it and a wing, we think we know a little bit about it. Although it's different racing, it's a lot heavier car in NASCAR, but you need to get the same result and that's to give our drivers a good car in and out of traffic, figure out how to give them good tire wear, and the journey as an ongoing journey. We believe in engineering and we believe we will be taking small steps, but our ultimate goal is to win. We're not here to finish second. We understand that we have a big challenge ahead of us and a lot of work, but together we're gonna be a lot stronger and it'll enhance our ability to be competitive in this very, very competitive series."
Q: IS IT FAIR TO SAY THIS IS BEING DONE TO GENERATE THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO WIN RACES AGAIN?
ROBERT YATES "Certainly that's very fair. Maybe Doug can explain it because he has a vision of understanding resources even more than I do."
DOUG YATES "We've looked at how do we make our program better? How do we get back to doing what we want to do, and that's win races and compete at a high level. That's why we're here. We looked at a lot of different scenarios, but the guys we're sitting next to are seven-time Champ Car Series champions. They just won their 101st race last week and they're winners and class people. That's who Robert, myself and my mom want to be known as is classy people and we want to do things right. We've found some people that are of the same make, we think, and together we think with the Newman/Haas/Lanigan engineering and marketing, and with what we've built here in NASCAR, we really believe in our hearts that we can make this work. That's why we're here today. We had a lot of options to do different things, but we feel like if we're gonna be here and be here for a long time, that we couldn't have found a better group of people to be associated with and we're gonna give it all we've got. This is a partnership. In this day, you need some lawyers and we felt like it sounds like a law firm (the team name). The sport has changed and we feel like we have to change to stay competitive in this sport."
DAN DAVIS , Director, Ford Racing Technology -- "This is a really special day. We've had a relationship in open-wheel for a number of years with Carl, Paul and now Mike, and they've been a very successful team, very technology oriented. We've helped them over the years compete. We have a long-lasting relationship with Robert Yates Racing. They're all champions. They've done an unbelievable job and we have the opportunity to put the two together. In my mind, the complementary approach that's coming out of this is pretty special. It's a very, very unique situation. I compliment all of the principals here of seeing that and getting this done. It's not easy doing this. The goals are clear. They want to win. Both organizations have high integrity and they've been with Ford for a long time. We are truly partners individually and now partners together. It's an exciting day and I think it's gonna change the sport a little bit -- the competitiveness of the sport because we do have strength coming."
Q: HOW WILL THIS PARTNERSHIP WORK PHYSICALLY?
ROBERT YATES "We're going to use the facilities where we are. We have a wonderful beginning and good location for what we do. It's very attractive and very nice, but what we have is a need for a culture change within that facility. We certainly have a campus with plenty of room to grow if the buildings need to get larger and have resources, but our first mission is to look good at the race track. Certainly we're proud of our shops, but what they bring to us complements us in the fact that they grow an arm of marketing that we do not have any of, an engineering department which we have none of, and they're gonna teach us from the ground up and we're excited about it. Their firm is engineered from the guy that runs the business. He's a great engineer and he not only understands how to engineer a car, he knows how to engineer the business and we're leaning on them very hard to build our company starting today and we're excited about it."
Q: DO YOU NEED FOUR TEAMS?
ROBERT YATES "NASCAR, I used to say there's only enough room for one car in victory lane and that's all I wanted to have. Well, NASCAR made victory lane hold four cars and I'd like to get four of them up on the tower here, but one is my goal. Do it right first, don't multiply until it's right. If you get going the right way, hopefully that will bring on the multiple numbers that we really have to have. We have to get like them a little bit, but we need to get our performance up first and we think we can do that without being four teams from the get-go."
Q: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PARTNERSHIP AND A MERGER?
ROBERT YATES "To me, a merger -- and I started looking at this over the past year -- a merger of equals is where somebody loses their job. This is not where anybody loses their job, this is a partnership so we grow it and not end up losing that. It's like if you have a full baseball team and then you bring on nine more guys, you don't have shortstops in between. In our business, we're missing some of the shortstops. This is a partnership, not a merger."
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON GOING NASCAR RACING?
PAUL NEWMAN "I started in silent films and I had hoped to continue in that tradition (laughter). This is very exciting for me. This is the marvelous part about speaking last because everybody has already said everything, but I really look forward to this partnership and I think we have departments that will complement theirs. We've always wanted to expand our activities, so this is a perfect opportunity."
Q: YOU'VE BEEN WITH MICHAEL KRANEFUSS AND TRAVIS CARTER PREVIOUSLY. WHY ARE YOU BACK?
CARL HAAS -- "We were just starting to get going pretty good on it and we had some sponsor problems that got dissolved out of Kmart when they went bankrupt. We just didn't continue at that point. We were losing just too much, but I've always felt I'd like to come back to everybody here. I think it's a great form of racing and it's growing greater than anything else I've seen around the world here -- wherever. We're looking forward to this. We may be repeating what we're saying, but we've got great people starting in. I don't think we could do what we're able to do to get into this thing if we were doing it ourselves with our owners. It would take a long time. It's just a lucky stroke and we're gonna support it all the way. I'm thrilled about it."
Q: WHAT ARE THE FINANCIAL CONDITIONS OF THIS DEAL? IS ROBERT STILL THE OWNER OR HAVE FULL CONTROL OF THE TEAM?
ROBERT YATES "I guess you'll just have to follow Carolyn around and see where she shops at if she changes her shopping style to know about that (laughing). Other than that, I'm not gonna discuss it."
Q: WILL WE SEE MOVEMENT BETWEEN THE TWO SHOPS FROM AN ENGINEERING STANDPOINT?
MIKE LANIGAN "It's agreed upon that in order to have a true partnership, we want to share everything that we have to Robert Yates and some of the technologies we've developed over the last 25 years. We believe additionally that each series we're in, whether it be NASCAR or Champ Car, which we're dedicated to also, we can learn from each series. Yes, everything will be available -- both technology and people."
Q: IN THE MOVIE 'WINNING' THERE WERE SCENES WHEN YOU DROVE A STOCK CAR. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT?
PAUL NEWMAN "I was very slow (laughter)."
MIKE LANIGAN "Paul is being very humble right now. Paul was in a race car three days ago practicing at IROC, so he may look a little seasoned but he's still quick. Absolutely still quick."
Continued in part 2