Mid-season teleconference transcript (part 3)

Continued from part 2 Q: Max Papis, I was asking Scott Pruett earlier about being rejuvenated. What is this season doing for you personally, career-wise, everything else? Clearly your deal in CART, we all remember what happened with Team...

Continued from part 2

Q: Max Papis, I was asking Scott Pruett earlier about being rejuvenated. What is this season doing for you personally, career-wise, everything else? Clearly your deal in CART, we all remember what happened with Team Rahal and everything like that, just what has this done for you? It seems to have proven that the talent you've got, from my vantage point, but what has it done for you personally?

MAX PAPIS: As you said, nothing is as good as winning. My career has always been quite a lot of ups and downs. It has been always very complicated in terms of finding the right opportunity and finding the good people around. I found really great people when I was at Rahal. At CART, I had a great team. Unfortunately, as you know well that situation, when Miller Lite pulled out of the championship, basically there was no more car for me to drive. That was a shame for everyone. But Bobby (Rahal) couldn't do anything for that.

Again, I kept fighting. I kept fighting. I had definitely a great disappointment when I joined Sigma Autosport. That basically closed down after five or six races. That has been a very, very tough time for my career.

But again, you know, I kept fighting. This year with the success I'm having with everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing, working again with Toyota under the brand of Lexus, it's something that I'm really pleased about. As you said, as you know well, I had my first ever race in America in open-wheel at Mid-Ohio with the Toyota-powered car. For me, going back in a couple of weeks and being able to contend for success with the Lexus power is going to mean a lot.

Again, as you said, this year for me has been really special. Between the deal I have with Chip Ganassi Racing and the deal I have with General Motors and Corvette Racing, I can't complain. I mean, I've been very successful in every race I've been running. It has been a little bit -- it takes a bit of time to get used to dealing with different cars and work with different people. But, again, it's all about who you put yourself around. At Lexus and at Chip Ganassi Racing, we have only one goal: that is winning. We have all the tools in place to achieve that.

I think that is what makes all the difference. It's all about what you have inside. If you have the power to succeed, if you have the will to succeed, you're going to go through difficult situations and make positive out of difficulties. If you are a loser, you just accept it and go home.

Q: In that regard, though, you know what you've got inside of you. When maybe it's not getting -- when maybe others aren't taking advantage of it, how tough is that to go through that where maybe you're not getting recognized or you're not getting that ride like maybe you think you should? For a driver, how tough is that? Obviously, same thing with Scott, y'all are proving something this year as a team. You know what I'm saying. I'm not trying to get on a soapbox here for you, but how tough is it to go through as a driver when you know what you've got inside but you can't show it?

MAX PAPIS: It makes you very upset. It makes you very infuriated. You go home, you know, you're there looking, you go to see a race, you see guys that you think you can beat them on any given day, and there you are watching and they're riding.

But as I say, again, all those things gave me motivation to come back. This year I'm fighting like hell to prove that I'm there, I have a lot of will to succeed. Too bad for the people that didn't take advantage of it because there are people like Chip Ganassi that is taking full advantage of it and is taking advantage of all the hunger I had inside, and I still have.

At the end of the game, for me it's motor racing, it's a sport. There are other more important things in life, as well. But at the same time, it's a matter of pride. When people step on your pride, you got to come back and kick them.

Q: Do you feel, you and Scott, the Ganassi team, do you feel like you guys are sort of a super team? As far as you can be a super team in the Grand-Am series with the rules, do you feel like you have landed with the super team of the series?

MAX PAPIS: I have a lot of respect for everybody who is racing there in Grand-Am because whoever -- take for example, Terry Borcheller, very underrated guy, very fast. Nobody knew who he was up to two years ago. Maybe Grand-Am is helping him to shine his abilities. Therefore I think that it's all about situation. I know that when Chip Ganassi told me who could have been my teammate, I told him, "Yes, of course, I'm going to be on board." I think it makes both of our lives easier knowing that you can count on each other, like Wayne and Max Angelelli. They are strong contenders, they know they can count on each other, the same with me and Scott.

I think in the end what it makes an easy job for everybody, within the team, in sports car usually you have a weak driver and a strong driver. You have a gentleman driver who pays the bill and the guy who stands on the throttle. With Chip Ganassi Racing, and with most of the new sports car teams that have been involved, it's all about speed. It makes a lot of easier job for everybody at CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing and Lexus, as well, because they can basically use Scott or use me independently.

But at the same time, you know, we still have a lot of competition between me and Scott, but healthy competition in a way that we share data, we try to push each other, we go at the limit. I think it's all a positive competition within the team. Again, you know, for the other teams, you know, it's definitely some of the teams, they see the lineup with the results there and the lineup that some other guys have, and I think it's kind of setting a little bit of a tone, if you want to say like that.

Q: Wayne, that is kind of a little bit of a change in the sports car prototype series there. There are a lot more serious teams with basically two drivers who are serious about it. Do you feel that, too, that that has enhanced the competition?

WAYNE TAYLOR: Yeah, it certainly has. I think the main ingredient that has caused that to happen is that the series -- I wouldn't say there's a price cap on running a race team, because you can never put a price cap on it, but you can spend X amount of money on these cars and effectively be competitive.

If you have one weak link, it's not like any other -- it's not like in the older days when you have the wealthy entrepreneurial businessman who hires a hot shoe, due to cautions and stuff you can still manage to win races. Today it's a little bit different. I think it's really in the fact that the series' stringent regulations have caused that. Clearly, if you don't have two good teammates like obviously on our team and on the Ganassi team, you are going to be at a disadvantage.

I think you could look down the field and just look at the driver pairings and tell pretty early. I think the driver pairing is really going to affect the series, which is really good for all of us, I think.

Q: Max Papis, you've got an extensive open-wheel background. I was curious to see what you think and how different things are with driving a car with fenders?

MAX PAPIS: As you said, you know, through my career I had opportunity of being involved in sports car. You know, the sports car I drove previously, I didn't really have a roof over my head. This one, it definitely is different. I'm used to feeling the breeze when I open the visor. Now when I open the visor, I feel hot (laughter). That definitely makes a difference.

In term of driving, again, you know, it's all about who you're racing with and the quality of the Grand-Am series is showing, again, there is no way that someone can go to the racetrack and say, "I'm going to dominate this weekend." How the series has been structured, how everything has been created up to now actually allows people to go racing and not knowing who actually is going to be the winner on Saturday or on Sunday.

It's all about teamwork, it's all about tire management. Again, you know, I really enjoy driving when there is great competition. Of course, it's nice to win by half a lap or by couple of laps in an endurance race, but is not -- I can promise you it's not as exciting as being able to fight up to the last five laps and really earn the win.

Up to this year, we had great battles with Wayne and Max. It reminded me a little bit of what we had in 1996 when I came over here to United States. For some of you guys that don't know, me and Max Angelelli, we've been teammates in Formula 3 in Italy for one year. We know each other really well. It's kind of going back again. Things come around and go around. It makes it really special.

Q: You're one of the few guys that have been able to race in the two sports car series going on here in America. Can you compare the two? Are they similar, are they different? I know they have two different business type of philosophies. As a driver, is it really very different from when you guys do?

MAX PAPIS: At the end of the game, it's all about racing. The two series have different philosophies. They go about racing in two different ways. Again, you know, what is the most important things is what comes out on Sunday, the kind of show that comes out on Sunday, and the people you work with.

You know, I'm working with two of the best organization in the world: Chip Ganassi Racing and Grand-Am, and General Motors and Corvette Racing on the other side. I'm dealing with Lexus and Toyota on one side. I can't complain. I mean, there is nothing better than that.

The two series, you know, they have their own philosophy, but at the end of the game you got to have to look at what's out there. The series is producing a great show on Sunday, and the races are very competitive, so that's what counts.

Q: Is your fan club going to be out here next week when you come to Mid-Ohio? I know you've always been a big favorite up here. Are you anticipating having a good time up here?

MAX PAPIS: Absolutely. You said it very much right. For me the Mid-Ohio race has always been my home track. As you guys know, I lived in Columbus for awhile, and a spent a lot a lot of time over there, meeting my friend Bobby Rahal and all the guys at (Team) Rahal.

For me, going back to Mid-Ohio has a lot of special memories - not it was just the first race of my open-wheel career in 1996, but I had a great time over there, I achieved very good results in Champ Car. Yeah, I had a few issues in last year I drive with Rahal.

At the end of the game, I'm really looking forward to be back where people really know about racing and I'm expecting a good crowd.

Q: Wayne, how far has the Daytona prototype come in the last year? I know last year they had some issues just because it was coming out of the box. How far has this machine come?

WAYNE TAYLOR: I think it's come a long way. I think Scott might have talked about that early on. But last year, truthfully in 2003 when I stopped and I looked at the lineup for the Daytona 24-hour, I thought, "God, this is one of the best races in the world. And now it looks really like it's losing its credibility." I was one of the people that really didn't think there was a future for those specific cars.

But it's amazing what can happen in a year. I think what has changed it is the interest that has come to big team owners like Ganassi and Riley and those types of people. Then, of course, the manufacturers who have now sort of climbed on board with it, as well.

You know, when you look back at World Sports Cars, when it first came out in '94, they also looked terrible the first time, they weren't very fast. I was watching yesterday or the weekend James Weaver talking on SPEED Wind Tunnel saying he didn't like these cars, that they were too slow. I don't know if he's actually been to one of these races yet. These cars I think have come a long way. I think if you look at the lap times at Daytona now, you know, these are the sort of lap times we were doing towards the end of the '90s in the Ferrari 333's and stuff. They've come a long way, they're going to go a lot further.

It just doesn't come down to speed; it comes down to competitiveness. All the manufacturers and all the drivers seem to be competitive and it puts on a good show.

Q: This is the only track that ALMS and you will be racing at. Will you look at their track times they put down, compare and contrast, or do you not pay attention to that?

WAYNE TAYLOR: I don't think you can honestly compare the two. I think if you look at the rules and regulations, there's clearly more horsepower there. There's a more open set of rules which allows more design with downforce and so on. So it would be unfair to do that.

I think you can clearly look at the two races and you'll be able to see, I would say that going to one of those races right now, you could tell before the race who's going to win it. I don't think you can do that in our series.

ADAM SAAL: James Weaver remains a friend of our series. We have an open invite to him. Love to have him come back and race with us whenever he can.

WAYNE TAYLOR: We'd love to have him back.

Continued in part 4

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers James Weaver , Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Scott Pruett , Max Angelelli , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Corvette Racing