An interview with Jon Fogarty Part 2 0f 2 Q: Given that the four Toyota Atlantic Champions before you have not managed to land a Champ Car ride, how optimistic are you of reversing that trend for next year? And assuming that doesn't come to...
An interview with Jon Fogarty
Part 2 0f 2
Q: Given that the four Toyota Atlantic Champions before you have not managed to land a Champ Car ride, how optimistic are you of reversing that trend for next year? And assuming that doesn't come to pass right away, are you prepared to spend another season in Atlantics to defend your championship?
Jon Fogarty: Yeah, I would be prepared to spend another season in Atlantics. The Toyota Atlantic organization is a great place to be. It's not the ideal thing after you win the championship to come back, but definitely a place that I enjoy, and the competition is good. I know that my skills would continue to improve if I was to come back to Atlantics.
However, I think that winning the championship this year, I think it's a good year to have done it. The field was so deep, there were so many talented drivers. A lot of good teams, and CART right now is pretty high on nurturing their ladder series. I think that's definitely to my advantage.
I think they want to show that the ladder series works, so hopefully I'll be able to benefit from that. Nonetheless, I'm going to put in a lot of hard work. The season is done, but not over. So there's a lot of work to be done. I have a lot of confidence. I have a good feeling about it.
Q: Have you ever tested or driven at Willow Springs at all?
Jon Fogarty: Yeah, I raced there in Formula Vee's back in '95 and in the Formula Dodge two-liter in '96 or '97.
Q: I'm curious, the track was really intrigued by the prospect of some sort of Indy car race or possibly even the Atlantics. From what you know of that track - they will have to upgrade fan accoutrements - but in terms of the track, what do you think about it as a possibility as a future stop on the circuit?
Jon Fogarty: It's an awesome racetrack. The layout would be killer. It makes for good racing. It's unbelievably fast. It would be a good layout.
But the problem you have there is every time you go off track - there's room out there, but there would have to be improvements in the runoff, as far as smoothing it out so you don't run into too many rocks and boulders and that sort of stuff. But there's room to do it, so that would be really cool.
Q: Do you think that might be a nice place for a performance test for the celebrity drivers for Long Beach, I think it would be kind of cool, in advance of the Long Beach Grand Prix, like a heads-up race, it looks like it might be a possibility?
Jon Fogarty: That would be cool.
Q: Did you have any problems setting up the car for Denver like the Champ Cars did? It seemed like you all were not flipping the steering wheel all that much out there?
Jon Fogarty: Well, you know, we got about a quarter of the horsepower. That makes for a little bit of that. But it was certainly a challenge. The whole Denver weekend I thought was awesome, very well done and the turn out was fantastic.
As far as the driver and engineer go, Bruno had mentioned it earlier, the surface changes were definitely challenging. We focused on getting the car good on the concrete, which I think was most important because most of the corners leading on to the long straightaways were concrete. So we focused on making our car handle there and kind of gave up a little bit on the slicker asphalt surface.
Not being turbo-charged, our engines are not able to create their own atmosphere like the CART cars. So we were a little bit worried about what the altitude was going to do to our pour, and at the same time, having the air density so low so we knew we could not make the downforce we wanted. It was a challenge. We definitely went the right way.
It was a great weekend, obviously not because we won the championship and won the race, but I think we learned a lot actually about what we can do with the car.
Q: You certainly gave an exciting race, the whole series, and an exciting race there on Saturday. Now after the end of the season, you said your family didn't really quite understand why you got into racing, but I know they were there this weekend. Do they have a better understanding, are they more excited about it?
Jon Fogarty: They have always been excited about it. Neither of my parents have any sort of background in racing. It's just something that kids seem to like to do.
They are definitely excited about it. They keep telling me I'm taking years off their life every time there's a race, like the one we had at Denver - I think when the flag goes green, they are about the same color as that flag. At the end of the race, you know, they are happy that I'm doing well. You know, my dad just likes to see competition, whether it's a football game or a race. He's into it, for sure.
Q: Certainly the shots I saw of your mother, she was excited through it and showed as much emotion as anybody else there. What are you going to do now, other than work on sponsorship at the end of the season, go back to work on the winery?
Jon Fogarty: Yeah, there's always stuff to do around the winery. Since I've been away, really, quite a bit the last couple of years, my position there has changed and they have found people to fill my role there. So I'll go and see what's happening and help out however I can.
It's kind of nice ending the season so early. It's going to give me the opportunity to go to a number of the CART races. I'm planning on going to Miami, Fontana, and if everything worked out, it would be a lot of fun to go to Australia. So I have to look into if that's in the cards.
Q: I thought your father, Tom, raced?
Jon Fogarty: My brother.
Merrill Cain: He competes in the Barber Dodge Pro Series; correct?
Jon Fogarty: Yes.
Q: And also you made mention about it being bittersweet memories because you might not return. Have you solidified your plans?
Jon Fogarty: I have not. My goal, of course, is CART. I'm going to do everything in my power to get that done and make that happen.
I've had offers from Dorricott to come back if I choose to come back to the series, and it's a great place to be. I love everybody on the team. I would be happy to come back there if something didn't turn up.
The future is wide open. I'm going to do everything I can though to end up in a CART car next year.
Merrill Cain: Talking about aspirations of being in CART, obviously that's where you want to be and continue to rise up the Ladder System here. You got to spend a little bit of time with a CART team earlier this year when you were involved in the CART mentor program with Newman/Haas racing at Vancouver. I know that you thought you hoped you didn't bring bad luck to the team because Cristiano did not finish that race, but did you learn very much from being with the team? Did you learn how you approached the championship? What did you take away from that weekend with Newman/Haas?
Jon Fogarty: Really, the most important thing that I took away from that weekend was just the contact I established, a relationship with a few of the guys on the team. That's always good to know people.
Newman/Haas is obviously a very, very good race team. They are a race team. They are not doing anything magical. They are just all doing their job to the top of their ability and they are doing it very well.
It's good to see that there's no huge tricks that you need to win races and win championships; you've just got to be with people doing a good job. It was good to see that and it was good to meet those guys. It was a good group of people. It actually reminds me of what we have at Dorricott racing.
Merrill Cain: Thanks again for joining us on the call today. We hope you have a great off-season, get a chance to relax and enjoy yourself a little bit and hope we see you on the track next year, whether it's a Champ Car, Atlantic car, wherever. We hope we get to see you again soon.
Jon Fogarty press conference, part I