CART FedEx Championship Series/Barber Dodge Pro Series June 18, 2002 An Interview With: Marc Breuers Merrill Cain: We now welcome in Marc Breuers of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. We appreciate you taking some time with us this afternoon ...
CART FedEx Championship Series/Barber Dodge Pro Series
June 18, 2002
An Interview With:
Merrill Cain: We now welcome in Marc Breuers of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. We appreciate you taking some time with us this afternoon and joining us on the CART teleconference. Welcome in.
Marc Breuers: Thanks, Merrill. Glad to be here.
Merrill Cain: A little bit of background on Marc. He's a 26-year-old driver from Philadelphia who currently ranks third in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. He had a career best finish of second at Lime Rock on Memorial Day this year. It's just been announced that Marc will participate in CART's Driver Development Mentor Program, which will allow him to spend some exclusive with a Toyota Atlantic team and key team personnel during the CART weekend in Chicago coming up in a couple weeks.
Q When you're involved in the CART development ladder like you are now, you have your own style and you don't emulate anybody, copy anybody, but maybe who with the Champ Cars, the CART FedEx Championship Series, whose style do you think you may be closest to at this point?
Marc Breuers: I'll be honest, it was sort of ironic that Townsend was on the call earlier. We're very similar in age. He's sort of been a mentor, always that step ahead of me. I look at that and have taken a lot of his advice in the past. He, in fact, has given me the advice of go fast and take chances, as well.
Townsend is very, very aggressive. You know, the Barber Dodge series is very much of a developmental series. I certainly think I'm getting to be a little bit more that way. I think earlier on me my career I was a little bit more patient and calm and realizing I need to have a little more aggression level out there. So I definitely would say I'm looking towards -- a little bit more towards something like Townsend. Another fellow would be Jimmy Vasser, he's sort of always very, very consistent. He's always been there. I've always sort of looked at myself and said that's the kind of the driver that I am.
Q Now that we've got the series involved in the CART development ladder, I suppose when you went up to some of these guys, maybe you didn't know them, introduced yourself, a cold introduction was okay. Now that you are part of the system, do you find that the CART guys may have a little more time for you? Do you find as a rule they're pretty open to sit down and chat with you?
Marc Breuers: Yeah, you know. I've really gone pretty far out of my way to go and talk to a lot of the Atlantic team owners as well as some of the drivers. Of course, you know, a lot of my old racing competitors are now in the Atlantic series, so it's a little warmer introduction there now than it has been in the past. But I've also had the chance to meet some of the personalities in the Champ Car Series, and they really are all pretty warm and open, even if you are coming in with that cold introduction. You know, they recognize that -- I think they've all been in that spot once before, and I think they take the time out when they can.
Q From the descriptions that I have from some of the course observers around the track, it was a very exciting race, run very cleanly compared to what can happen. Can you tell us a little about your race there?
Marc Breuers: Sure. I started up on the front row. I took the provisional pole in first qualifying which kept me up there. Of course, all we hear about is the melee that happens in the festival corners. I think we did not escape that, but I happened to. I was very fortunate to come out of the festival corners in the lead. A few of the other competitors, I think actually Julio Campos, who was on pole, spun there, and a few other people ended up in a gravel traps, put us under a yellow flag pretty quickly. The remainder of the race was actually run fairly clean.
Q What about your competitors in this series this year? A lot of them moved on last year, but there are new ones coming up. Who are your biggest competitors this year?
Marc Breuers: A.J. Allmendinger has had a good start to the year. He's done very well in the past. There are a lot of very young drivers in the series, a lot of rookies, like you said. Many of my competitors have moved on. This is the first graduating class from the Skip Barber National Series which didn't exist when I ran in the smaller cars, in the amateur series for Skip Barber. I'm a full product of their system. I mean, I started day one in one of their racing schools and ran in their Formula Dodges, amateur series. But, you know, there are a few young guys. Their competitiveness and speed is certainly there. At that point it's the maturity level and being able to be consistent throughout the season.
Q Looks like a number of them have taken the advice of go fast and take chances.
Marc Breuers: It has. I guess maybe being a few years older than them, I realized that you need to be consistent and fast. Sometimes the wiser choice is to take one spot less and finish the race, which actually happened up at Portland. We had one car that got into a big accident trying to make up a bunch of spots. But turns out everybody was all right. Just keep going from there.
Q Are you paired with another driver or are you sharing a coach with another driver?
Marc Breuers: I am. I work with Josh Brown as my engineer. We've done a lot of winter testing. It's really helped my personal development. I do work with Julio Campos, as well.
Q In the developmental series, this is a situation to where every race becomes that much more important because it's almost like minor league baseball: when you do well, they notice, but unfortunately when you don't do well, they take a double notice.
Marc Breuers: I would agree with that. You know, I mean, I'm looking at this obviously as a career. You know, my hopes are to be in the Toyota Atlantic series next year. With the CART mentor program, I'm going to get a chance to go out and get a little bit more exposure there. But it's true, you know, I go out and I look and didn't get the result that I really wanted in Portland, and now I have to wait a few weeks before I can prove myself again. But it really does come down to proving yourself every single weekend.
Q How do you handle that?
Marc Breuers: Well, you just have to push through it. The one thing that I've learned, I mean, Townsend touched on this, as well, a race car driver's job is not just to drive a car quickly; it's to be able to make good decisions, have good judgment, be able to find sponsorship money, be able to satisfy a sponsor in terms of public appearances, things of that nature. To be a high-caliber professional driver, like Townsend who made it up to the top, you've got to be multi-dimensional. You've got to be able to really handle quite a bit of pressure. And I think that's just part of being a professional athlete.
Q Is part of that pressure also the learning curve, learning how to keep that pressure within and produce despite everything going on around you?
Marc Breuers: It's true. And, you know, I've gone through a couple of weekends particularly recently where, you know, there were a lot of external pressures, things that weren't specifically related to actually driving the race car. You know, while you can put them out of your mind the time that you're in the car, it's being able to either insulate yourself from them or not let them get to you and still stay focused on the things you have to accomplish over the weekend.
Merrill Cain: You drive the No. 94 Sunoco Dodge Reynard. You have a relationship with Sunoco as it sits right now. Townsend talked about the importance of the sponsorship, having that relationship. How has that been for you? Are you comfortable in doing that? As a driver, what is that like?
Marc Breuers: I've been very fortunate. I've had some success there. People always ask, "How did you get that? How did you get that?" Kind of joke, but it really isn't that much of a joke. I mean, I knocked on the door on the right day. You know, there was an opportunity there, and we worked it out. It didn't just happen overnight. It took some effort. We worked out a program that was beneficial for both myself as well as for Sunoco. I think I've been certainly very, very happy with them, and I think they're pleased with my performance both on and off the track. You know, we are learning together as we go along, and hopefully we can make a go of it and climb the ladder together.
Q Are you from the Philadelphia area?
Marc Breuers: That's correct.
Q I'm from the East Coast myself, based in the northeast here. It's not known to be a racing capital of the world. How did you get started in racing growing up in Philadelphia?
Marc Breuers: You're absolutely right. One of the toughest things that I face around here is almost educating people on racing and what's really involved with it because it seems to me at least that it's the least popular area in the country for racing.
But I got started literally by going to Skip Barber Racing School. I was a young kid and bought a car when I was 15, took it apart and put it back together. Some of my other friends had done that. They taught me how to heel and toe. I sort of had fun with it. "You got to go to racing school." Off I went. From then I just continued on and pursued through it go-karts and pursued it through school. About four years ago I really decided that this is what I want to do. I went and I taught, just like Townsend did, I was friends with him when he taught at Skip Barber. I taught there for a year, and it helped quite a bit, really helped solidify my knowledge of vehicle dynamics, how to drive a car, what was really going on. But much like Townsend, I also realized I wasn't actually getting the opportunity to race and actually go out and find the money to race. You know, it's been a great progression up through the Barber system, the Skip Barber system. Right now I'm at the top of their system looking to carry their name onwards.
Q The Andrettis are in nearby Nazareth. Did you ever have any discussions with them in terms of advice, things of that nature?
Marc Breuers: I haven't. The interesting thing, there's a go-kart track not too far from us, and Michael's son Marco runs at the same go-kart track I do. I have run into Michael on occasion there, sort of said hello. But it's been more on I guess a more formal basis than anything.
Q Have you had the opportunity to actually race Marco?
Marc Breuers: No. He's in a much different class. He's just starting out. He's pretty young.
Q How were you steered toward open-wheel cars?
Marc Breuers: Honestly, I think it was more by accident than anything. I was never exposed to anything else. Based literally on my peer group at home, they said, "You need to go to racing school, it's a lot of fun." Off I went to Skip Barber which at the time was running a Formula Ford. That was my entry into auto racing. That's all I've ever done, open-wheel and the go-karts. I've really never been exposed to anything else. My family is not involved in racing in any way. None of our friends are either. It's a bit of a lonely battle I fought for a while to even get this far.
Q When you are carrying the flag, as you are, you tend to capture imaginations. Hopefully your career will take off and we'll see you racing the Champ Cars soon. Philadelphia will be piling on to the bandwagon.
Marc Breuers: That's right. I look to kind of get the word out here in Philadelphia and make sure I get some local coverage. I've gotten a tremendous response from people. I keep a newsletter up for local people and we do special events when the Barber Dodge races are on television. I've really gotten a tremendous amount of support. You go out and try and do something a little bit different, a little bit special. I think it does capture people's imagination. They really do look forward and share in your excitement. It's been pretty neat.
Q In looking at racing this year, the open-wheel cars have been so much more exciting. Is there an upswing on the way where you guys in the open-wheel circuit will catch the wave? Maybe it takes a while for the word to get out. The level of racing seems to be far more exciting than stock cars.
Marc Breuers: Obviously I'm a little biased, but I think so, too. I've gone -- I naturally go to all the Champ Car races, been to a few Winston Cup races. My heart lies with the open-wheel. If we could get some people to just take a look at this, they'd be thrilled beyond belief. I hope you're right on the upswing side of open-wheel racing. Naturally that's what I'm hoping will happen. I think with a little luck, with Chris Pook being in charge of CART right now, I certainly see some changes happening. I think it's all going in the right direction. I think we're doing the right thing.
Merrill Cain: You're obviously doing the mentor program, coming up the Chicago weekend June 29th and 30th. You said here today that your aspiration is to make it to the Toyota Atlantic level next year. Have you given a thought to some of the questions you are going to ask when you get to Chicago and what you hope to gather from the mentor program?
Marc Breuers: I've certainly got your basic questions. I'll be honest, over the last few days, most people don't necessarily realize this, but the last -- I guess I came home yesterday and spent most of the time on the airplane and some further time last night doing more post race analysis, just taking notes and writing down everything, figuring it all out so that it's logged for the next time I go to Portland. It was my first time there. I'm sure I'll have some more time to think about the questions I'll ask the Atlantic guys in a few more days.
Merrill Cain: I'm sure it's going to be a great opportunity for you. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago. We appreciate you joining us on the teleconference today. Wish you good luck with the mentor program. We'll keep an eye on you in the Barber Dodge Pro Series .
Marc Breuers: Appreciate it. Very excited not only to be on the teleconference today, but really to be embraced by the CART community and to be in the CART mentor program really means a lot to me.
Merrill Cain: Good deal. See you in Chicago. We'd like to thank both Marc and Townsend Bell for being a part of the teleconference today. Next CART FedEx Championship Series event is the CART Grand Prix of Chicago on Sunday, June 30th. Race will be aired live on CBS television 3:30 p.m. eastern time. Have a very pleasant afternoon.