Bell Motorsports teleconference (part 2)

Continued from part 1 Q: Christian, you were talking a little about how frustrating it was for you. How did you keep busy? How was the whole thing with NASCAR to the point where you kept hoping to get in and it just wasn't working ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Christian, you were talking a little about how frustrating it was for you. How did you keep busy? How was the whole thing with NASCAR to the point where you kept hoping to get in and it just wasn't working out sponsor-wise?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: Well, I'm still going to the (NEXTEL) Cup races. I go on average one weekend yes, one weekend no. Apart from that, during the week I've been sailing a lot, to be quite honest, and keeping busy. I went to Europe once for a festival there that they have every year, and then I went to South Africa about a week or two weeks ago for the Formula 1 two-seater ride that they had over there. Actually drove one of those cars, which was like awesome, very, very good. So I try to keep as busy as possible.

I'm really happy that now I'm going to be doing some real proper racing again. Hopefully things can start working back to normal again and we'll see what's going to happen in the future.

Q: What kind of sailboat do you have?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: It's a 50-foot catamaran. It's actually pretty interesting. It's not very comfortable. You have the minimum I would say creature comforts that you need in it, but it's pretty lightweight and it's all geared up to try and go like as quick as possible.

Q: Your uncle, Emerson I think, it's going to be 30 years since he won his second Formula 1 championship. Can you even think back? Have you ever seen any of the old films of him racing, what it was like back then when he was racing with less safety equipment and everything?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI:  Well, when he won the first one, I was three years
old.  So honestly, I don't remember that. Then when he won the second
one, I was probably four or five.  It was a long time ago.

I remember up to that point because of him and also my whole family, Dad, all that stuff, because of the team that we had, it was basically normal. I went to school. When my friends were talking about their dads that were working in a bank or were doing this, were doing that, they usually asked me, "What does your dad do?"

I said, "He has a team."

"Which type of team?"

"Formula 1 team."

They looked at me and said, "Oh, okay, cool." And I thought that was pretty normal like because I just grew up in it. Basically that was it. Strange.

Q: Forest, does this mean that you won't are racing in the last four races? Is this kind of like a prelude to stepping out of the car full-time?

FOREST BARBER: The simple answer is yes. I won't be racing in the last four races, and my intention is to run the long races in '05. We'll run the car next year with two professionals, and I hope it's going to be Terry and Christian. But, yes.

Q:  Is that just because the bar has been raised and you don't want to
impede the team?  I don't know how you want to phrase it.

FOREST BARBER: My desire is for the team to have a good result. The playing field has changed pretty significantly since last year. To get the best results, we need to have the best people driving the car that we can. I don't have the experience to get the results we need, so we're going to put people in the car that give us those results.

Q: Terry, how much has Forest improved from last year to this year? Are you kind of sorry to see him step out?

TERRY BORCHELLER: Yeah. I mean, last year we had -- it was a serious effort, and obviously we won the championship, but we had a lot of fun. This year has been a little more stressful, not as much fun. You know, I like it when he's having a good time because he's paying a lot of the bills. We've got Kodak, which we're happy for, but Forest still foots a lot of the bills, and he's also a good friend. I like for him to have a lot of fun.

This year's been very difficult for that because of the fact that he also is a winner. You know, he was a winner in the boat races. He was a winner in the car last year. We did the Grand-Am Cup last year and he was the winner. He wants to win; he just doesn't want to drive.

A lot of guys have a lot of different ambitions. You know, he's been a winner every time he's raced, so he's kind of used to that. It's frustrating for anybody regardless of their level of experience, if you're wanting to win, you're competitive, that's your desire, and it surely is for Forest.

But I think that we'll continue to have a lot of fun. If he's running the long races, I think it will be a lot less pressure for him, and he'll get to do some driving. I know he does a lot of driving close to his home at Motorsport Ranch. He owns the Mazda. He might even do some Grand-Am Cup races with me next year. Who knows? I'm sure he'll continue to drive in some fashion, and I'm sure he'll be having a lot of fun doing it.

Q: Forest, how difficult is this to not drive the car that you spent your lifetime wanting to race, just to have to step back because you want to succeed? How tough is that?

FOREST BARBER: Well, I think I'm going to have to wait and see. I was very gratified by our result at Watkins Glen where we had the GM factory Corvette driver, Oliver Gavin, driving with us. I want our teams to succeed. I enjoy success and I am competitive.

But it is a team effort, and I want our team to do well and get the results they deserve and for us to have the best tools to get that job done. I think it will be fine. I was very happy to see us do well, enjoyed my role there at Watkins Glen. We'll see how it goes. I think it's going to be fine.

I'll be testing the car from time to time and driving in long races. I think it's going to be just great. I want to see us do well. The Kodak company deserves good results, and we appreciate their support. But I think it will keep me happy doing what we're doing, or what we're about to embark on at least. We have some really good people there that are going to be in the car and they deserve good results as well. We're going to do our best.

Q: Would there be any chance of this team going to a two-car team next year?

FOREST BARBER: Well, there's a chance. Right now it's not a probability. But there's a chance, and that would be an ideal way to run a car, I think, because your development I think would go much quicker with two cars. That's our hope and that has been the overall plan, was to eventually run a two-car team. We'll hope for that but it's not in the cards right now.

Q: Christian, are you still under contract to Petty Enterprises. Do I have that right?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: Yeah, I am.

Q: Kind of open-ended, apparently, as far as what you can do?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: Yeah, pretty much right now, yes. Like I'm starting to think a lot about my options. Obviously, they're thinking a lot on all the options like on their side. We're talking a lot and meeting every now and then. So we're probably going to get together some more tomorrow and get together some more next week. But right now it's pretty much open.

ADAM SAAL: Forest did indeed drive the car across the finish line to take the checkered flag at the Rolex 24. You have been a winner, it's great, and we're glad you're sticking around in any capacity. We definitely want to see you get back behind the wheel if not behind a clipboard taking times with your drivers. Great effort this year. I think you're going in the right direction for sure.

FOREST BARBER: Thank you.

ADAM SAAL:  Can you elaborate on what John asked you about?  He mentioned
a facility down there where you may race in Texas.  Sounded like a ranch.

FOREST BARBER: Well, there's a track not far from my home called Motorsport Ranch. You'd characterize it as a country club for guys that like to drive fast cars, but there's a few established race teams that are there. It's a nice little 2.4 mile track about 10 minutes from my house, very convenient.

I keep some old race cars there. I have a car from the Ferrari challenge, go-karts, a BMW that is going to be there soon. It's a good place to go have fun and test.

ADAM SAAL: Christian, a final question. Your father Wilson, a lot of people are aware he also was a pretty good driver. Is he still racing in anything right now?

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: No, no, no. He's not racing. Right now he's 62 years old. He takes care of a stock car team down in Brazil. Stock car in Brazil is probably the best form of racing that there is in that country. It's very, very similar to like a touring car that they race in Europe. It's basically a Chevy V8 engine with approximately 450, 500 horsepower. It looks like a car that they race in Europe. But they're not very quick down the straights. They're pretty quick like in the turns. They're very good for the fans down there. You have a full field like every race. You have like 28, 30 cars. You have good TV down there.

For sure definitely one day like in my later stage of my career, I am going to try that out. But right now it's still a little bit too early in that.

ADAM SAAL: Good to have you back in the Rolex Sports Car Series with the No. 54 Kodak Easy Share team.

Q: I'm apologizing for having called in late. I was chasing some late-breaking rumor issues. I presume the subject has been addressed that Mr. Fittipaldi would be joining so far only for the final four races or will he be joining the team for 2005?

FOREST BARBER: Well, the plans are for Christian to run the last four races, and we plan on racing next year. My hopes are to have Terry and another pro driver, hopefully Christian, in the car. Right now we can confirm just for the last four races.

Q: I also presume, Forest, that based on some of our previous conversations, and I hate to say this because you're certainly better at it than me, but you have recognized the necessity of pairing Terry with somebody who is fleet of foot?

FOREST BARBER:  Indeed.  Given the changing playing ground I guess of the
series, that's a necessity.  Yes, indeed, we need a couple of hot shoes
in the car.  We're going to have them from this date forward.

Continued in part 3

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Oliver Gavin