Auberlen, Said teleconference transcript (part 2)

Continued from part 1 Q: At the mid-season, you guys split from the same car into the competitor cars. How did you feel at the time that happened? BORIS SAID: Mad. I was mad personally, you know, because racing with Bill, it was easy for...

Continued from part 1

Q:   At the mid-season, you guys split from the same car into the
competitor cars.  How did you feel at the time that happened?

BORIS SAID: Mad. I was mad personally, you know, because racing with Bill, it was easy for me to win the championship. Racing with Bill, he's one of the best sports car racers in America. I'd rather have him than race with a rookie. So we both got paired with rookies. It was disappointing.

In the big picture, we're part of a team, and that's BMW North America, and they decide what's best for them, and what's best for them isn't always what's best for me personally, let's say.

But it's still a great team. We have great battles. The cars are a lot of fun to drive.

Q: Mr. Auberlen, you weren't exactly off of my radar screen because I've been following sports car racing for a long time, but you really landed on it last year when you got that ride, and I believe it was with Doran in Virginia, if memory serves. You really took that car around that track quite well. You're a sterling driver. You got into BMW this year, so you went from a Daytona Prototype to BMW this year. Give me some differences between the two styles of racing car.

BILL AUBERLEN: Well, very, very different. The Daytona Prototype is not a true prototype in the sense when I used to drive the BMW LMR V12, it was huge downforce, huge power. The Daytona Prototype doesn't make near the downforce or near the power. You have to really drive the car.

But BMW, they have this car worked out so well that it's a lot easier to drive. It's a lot more manageable and doesn't have quite as much power. The prototype car, to go fast, you need to grab hold of this thing and throw it around. They're extremely hot inside for some reason, I don't know why, but they will burn you to a crisp. Everybody's trying to get around that now.

But I think the prototype cars have legs. And BMW, in the series, they should enter in there the next year or two and it would be a very fun series for them to go to.

Q: I've noticed the team name that (PTG president and CEO) Tom Milner chose is Prototype (Technology) Group, BMW Prototype (Technology) Group. That would indicate to me that that's the direction that BMW is heading in. You just referenced that. When might we expect to see BMW-powered Daytona Prototype from you all and not from somebody else?

BORIS SAID: Bill, I'm curious, too, on that one.

BILL AUBERLEN: Boris has been pushing for it hard. I've been pushing for it hard. Tom Milner, the owner of the team, pushes very hard. They know that's the future.

BMW, they market through either image, which is like Formula 1, or through something you can identify with, which is like the M3s. To buy somebody else's chassis and put their motor in it, they don't quite get it yet, that that's what they should be doing, or maybe they shouldn't be doing it.

But next year I really wish they would. Tom is going to push very hard this year to get something going this year in order to sort of transition into it next year, I hope.

Q: Do you think there's a good possibility of that?

BORIS SAID: I think they're going to be forced into it because what Grand-Am has created. They created what in a very short time is going to be the premiere road race series in America. They've come out with a rules package that makes it so competitive, all the makes so equal, and the racing so exciting on TV, I mean, if you look to what their races were like three years ago to what they're like now, I mean, it's night and day. It's almost NASCAR road racing.

So I think eventually, I mean, for the consumers, the product is so good, they're going to be forced into having to compete. That's what we're hoping.

Q: I hope to see that, too. I'm going to get back into the GT class, which you guys run. I won't mention any names specifically, but I will mention a manufacturer. The Porsche guys have had very few positive words to say about how you guys have been whipping up on them. For the most part, you have to break in order for them to win. Do you have any thoughts on that aspect, why you guys did so good as compared to the Porsches?

BILL AUBERLEN: Go ahead, Boris.

BORIS SAID:  I think right now, the BMW M3 is one of the best-handling
cars out there.  PTG is the most experienced team out there.  We have two
of the best drivers out there.  So we kind of have, you hear it in
racing, we have the package.  We have the best of everything.

I think a Porsche could be competitive in the right team, the right drivers. But right now they don't have the full package like we have. PTG has been racing these cars for 10 years, so they know them inside and out. It's a very professional team.

So, Porsche, they're whining like a bunch of babies because we've kicked their butt so bad. But it feels good, to be honest with you. We've had our years where the rules are different and their cars are more competitive. This year we've kind of had it our way and it feels great.

Q: Tell me what it's like to work under Tom Milner.

BORIS SAID:  He's a great guy.  Bill has probably been there nine years;
I've been there 10 years.  He's kind of like, you know, we fight
together, we laugh together, we cry together.  It's almost like a
family.  I've known the guy so long.

But he's a great guy. He's committed to winning, and he's got great people that work under him.

ADAM SAAL: The GT category that we spent the last couple of minutes discussing will actually be subject to some new rules next year, and a lot of cars such as the Pontiac GTO that we've seen will be competitive, and it's already demonstrated some competitive racing skills next year as we combine this class with SGS. The Maseratis have also run well.

To kind of answer some of the points that Boris just mentioned, Porsche Motorsport North America just announced today they're going to offer a promotional program to teams that compete in the Rolex Sports Car Series GT class next year. So maybe they're already hearing what you were talking about, Boris. Porsche is always a welcome competitor. They've given you a run for your money this year, although the championship will almost certainly come down to BMW.

We'll move on to more questions from the media.

Q: Bill and Boris, can you describe what it's like when you race a road course within a superspeedway.

BORIS SAID:  To me it's just another track, you know.  Every track -- I
like every different track for different reasons.  Fontana for me is a
great racetrack for an oval.  Turn one and two is a very fast, very
exciting corner.  I mean, it just makes for great racing.

Q: Bill, what do you think?

BILL AUBERLEN: I'd agree. Every track has its good points and its bad points. You can make an oval track, converted into an oval, like Boris said, kind of boring. Daytona is great because of the history. Fontana is great. I mean, you go into Turn 1 (at) almost 170 miles an hour flat on it and the car will slow itself down in the oval because of the loads that go on it. It's a lot of fun.

Q: In terms of spectators, growing the sport, Bill, is it useful to have a situation where you can see the entire course in some of those upper grandstands when you're in a superspeedway configuration?

BILL AUBERLEN: I'm sure for the spectators, they love it. They can sit in one spot and see the whole thing. The problem, our series is not the NEXTEL Cup, which packs every seat in the house. But we have a lot of room to pack the seats. And I think the way the series is going, we're just going to get more and more and more spectators. And it is a great place to watch up there, no doubt.

Q: Boris, just want to get your thoughts on that.

BORIS SAID: Yeah, I mean, there's tracks like the Nurburgring in Germany, which is probably one of the most fun tracks in the world to drive, but it's 15 miles around. You see a car every 10 minutes. So there's something to be said for being able to sit in one seat and see all the action.

You know, I think the tracks now, in the old days, some of the infield road circuits, like Atlanta had; it wasn't that exciting for a driver. But now, I mean, Las Vegas and Daytona, you know, Fontana are great circuits.

Continued in part 3

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Series Grand-Am