Blackhawk Racing pre-Daytona teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Jimmy, you're probably tired of this question already, but do you have a time frame as to when we will start knowing what's happening to PKV next year? JIMMY VASSER: Well, we're starting that right now. I hate...

Continued from part 1

Q: Jimmy, you're probably tired of this question already, but do you have a time frame as to when we will start knowing what's happening to PKV next year?

JIMMY VASSER: Well, we're starting that right now. I hate to be elusive about my decision, but really, if you ask me if I want to drive, of course I want to drive. Nobody likes to think about throwing the keys to your car to somebody else.

One thing I decided --

ADAM SAAL: We're having some problems with Jimmy's connection.

JIMMY VASSER: I want to have the seat because I'm one of the best candidates for it. The most important thing is that we don't hold back the race team and make sure we can get the best, fastest. We want to build, as well. I'm probably not a guy you build around, to be honest. I feel like I can still do the job. If we have a three-year plan to build for the future, I'm probably not the guy.

Then again, we're looking at all angles.  Some of them are
commercially-based.  You have to build around new drivers, need to retain
sponsorship.  There are just a lot of different factors that we're taking
into consideration.  I think it will all come into focus pretty shortly.

Q: Alex, you've been focusing on sports cars. Would you look with this new relationship perhaps with, say, Jimmy Vasser and Champ Car overall, turn your eyes once again to open-wheel racing, returning back to open-wheel racing?

ALEX GURNEY: That's a good question. I guess never say "never." We haven't really discussed that yet or talked about it at all. Yeah, I'd be interested. I have to say, though, I'm pretty happy in Grand-Am, the chance that Bob has given me. I'm happy that I'm in a really competitive team, in a series that's strong and looks to have a really bright future. Right now I'm pretty happy.

Q: Same question to Rocky. I understand you're looking at this situation, the sports car ride, for the first time. Again, with the resurgence of Champ Car, the Atlantic program, would you look towards going that direction as well in the future?

ROCKY MORAN JR.: Yeah, honestly I would race anything. If you could get a shopping cart and put wings on it, run down the street, I'd race it (laughter). Really, I'll drive anywhere I see an opening for a career, to be honest.

Right now I'm just absolutely jazzed about this 24-hour deal, and Daytona Prototype is in the front of my mind. I pursued Champ Car for 10 years. Unfortunately, I just didn't get the right opportunity at the right time. By no means have I discarded that. I never close any doors. I'm going to keep all of my options open and take the opportunities as they come.

Q: Jimmy, could you sort of reclarify Cristiano da Matta's contract or situation with your team?

JIMMY VASSER: Right now we don't have any contract with Cristiano. He's free to do what he wants. He's a great champion. We're still considering him as a possible candidate for us. I think he's shown some desire to want to be back to the team. The team feels like it needs to explore all its options for a new driver lineup, but he's still a possibility for us. We can have anything from the same driver lineup to something completely different, any permutation in between. That's basically in a nutshell it about Cristiano.

Q: Is he down there testing?

JIMMY VASSER: No. I'm not driving. He's not driving. He's not down here. We're just running through a program with the three guys that I mentioned earlier. We're still in contact with Cristiano.

ADAM SAAL: There's kind of a good segue there. Cristiano, along with Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy, were among the top Champ Car drivers to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona last year. We expect a lot of those same drivers. Again, Jimmy is the first champion to throw his hat in the ring. We once again expect dozens of champions and hundreds of different race winners from all around the country as we come together for the 24 Hour.

Q: Rocky, people like Ryan Dalziel who have entered the series have commented that the cars aren't that dissimilar to the Toyota Atlantic cars that they're more familiar with. Is that going to help you play catch-up as you get acquainted to doing your first sports car race? Does missing the Homestead test hurt in that respect?

ROCKY MORAN JR.: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, I don't really think it will take too long to adjust. Of course, it's a heavier car, it's got more horsepower, less downforce - at least that's what I think. I think it's a flat-bottom car. Generally speaking, the power-to-weight is pretty similar to an Atlantic car. I think most of it is just getting used to the brake zones. The car has traction control, no-lift shift. The Atlantic car had a no-lift shift. There are some differences and similarities.

Most of the time I get in a car that I'm unfamiliar with, I take a good 30, 40 minutes to come up to speed with it. Before you know it, it's lunchtime and you're going fast. I think at the end of the day, it's got the motor and the wheels and the tires and it's just a race car.

Last year was a pretty crazy year. I ended up driving an Infiniti Pro Series car, a Busch car, a Winston West car, an Atlantic car. I almost got confused at one point in time I was driving so many different things.

After you strap in and do a couple sessions, it normally just comes to you, you just go by the feel and basically go from there. I think we'll adjust fairly quickly.

ADAM SAAL: Rocky, again, maybe we haven't made it clear, but this will be your first time racing in a sports car. You said it's just a different type of animal. Talk about your first sports car race ever. Were you a little kid watching your father race?

ROCKY MORAN JR.: Yeah. I was probably so young I don't even remember it, you know. The most recent memory I've got is the last race I watched. I went to some races with my dad as a kid. He drove a little bit of everything as well. He basically always told me that a race car is a race car, you just get in and drive, adapt to the situation. I think that's really the case. You obviously do everything you can to educate yourself on the car, and let the engineers bring you up to speed. I've got awesome teammates that are going to give me a wealth of information about driving the car. I feel really confident.

Q: Ideally you said you want to make this an All-American team. How cool is to it have the Gurney and Moran names paired together after so many years, now that you two get to drive the same car together?

ALEX GURNEY: I'm super excited. Rocky and I, we've always looked to cross paths here. Finally it's happening. Yeah, the fact that we are all are friends, we all know each other, the fact that Rocky Sr. won Daytona with my dad, it's all just a big bonus. We're excited and we hope we can repeat.

ROCKY MORAN JR.: My dad will be there rooting us on. It will be pretty neat. My dad always wanted to do the race with me, but I think he's gotten a little too old and put on a few too many pounds. I think the next best guy to do it with is definitely Alex. I'm really excited about it.

Q: Jimmy, to what degree did Cristiano's and Paul's experience influence you to come and do your first Daytona Prototype race, the impressions they gave you afterwards?

JIMMY VASSER: They had a great time. They enjoyed it. It's a real race car. But they didn't really influence me. My influence more came from the lineup that we have. I mean, Alex and Rocky are great friends. They're cool guys. Bob put together a great team. Kyle is a highly-respected engineer. It's as simple as the fact that it's a group of people and a team that can win the race. I'm honored to be invited. I'm going to the shop tomorrow. I'm leaving Sebring tonight, going to the shop tomorrow, see the guys, do our seats, and we're going to get started.

ADAM SAAL: Bob, we will finish this teleconference and everybody is heading to Dallas. Talk about what you're going to do in your first meeting there.

BOB STALLINGS: We just moved our team from Sacramento to Dallas. We've got a brand-new shop. Jimmy and Alex and Rocky are going to get in late tonight or early tomorrow morning. We're going to make sure that the seat fits all of us. We're going to make sure that the brake pedals and throttle works properly, and get to know each other. We might even, if there isn't too much eggnog being done, do some driver changes, and just think about strategy for the race.

Let me mention one other thing. It is my dream that we go here and win this because this is an absolutely fantastic venue. Even though I've only been racing for five years now, I realize there are two or three races you'd love to win in America. Long Beach, we're going to be there. That would be a great win. The Indy 500 would be a great win. Any of the Champ Car venues would be a great win. But the Rolex 24 At Daytona is just a great trophy to have. I'm really stoked about that.

The second thing I would say is it is my hope that I'm going to be able to talk both Rocky and Jimmy into getting back in the car again sometime this season. We'll have to see how that goes.

ROCKY MORAN JR.: It won't take much talking on my end. I'll be there (laughter).

JIMMY VASSER: As long as it doesn't conflict with that shopping cart series this year.

ROCKY MORAN JR.: That's right, as long as it doesn't conflict with any of those races. I don't want to get knocked out of the championship.

JIMMY VASSER: I'd like to add to what Bob said about the Rolex 24. I won the race, and I know they give watches. I want one of those watches. I won with the Acura NSX with Parker Johnstone and Dan Marvin in 1992. We won the Camel Lights class. I was fully expecting my Rolex. All I got was a baseball hat that said "Rolex" on it. I've got a little bit of unfinished business myself.

BOB STALLINGS: Let's get the Rolex.

ALEX GURNEY: Do they cut it in four slices?

ADAM SAAL: You each get one. Anybody who drives the winning car gets presented with a Rolex right there in Victory Lane. It's something to shoot for, Jimmy.

JIMMY VASSER: I've got a ball cap. Now I need a watch.

ADAM SAAL: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We'll have plenty more of these teleconferences over the next 45 days as we gear up for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta