CART FedEx Championship Series KENNY BRACK TO PILOT TEAM RAHAL'S SHELL FORD IN 2000 Kenny Brack, the 1998 Indy Racing League Champion and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner, will drive Team Rahal's Shell Ford-Cosworth next season. Brack, who...
CART FedEx Championship Series
KENNY BRACK TO PILOT TEAM RAHAL'S SHELL FORD IN 2000
Kenny Brack, the 1998 Indy Racing League Champion and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner, will drive Team Rahal's Shell Ford-Cosworth next season.
Brack, who cut his teeth in European road racing prior to making the move to the oval intensive IRL in 1998, will team with Max Papis to form one of the more formidable teams in CART for the 2000 season. In 28 Indy car races, Brack posted four wins, including the 83rd Indianapolis 500, and posted 16 top-10 and 11 top-five results.
BOBBY RAHAL - Owner, Team Rahal - "This has probably been one of the worst kept secrets in racing, but nevertheless, now it's official. I always say that rumors are nothing but unsubstantiated facts and now it's all substantiated. I am just very pleased to have Kenny aboard with us. I am just very impressed with the way he has addressed everything, his attitude - he certainly talks the talk. As we discovered not too long ago down in Homestead, where we did a fairly quiet test on the road course, that things went well there and that we were very pleased with what we saw and I think Kenny was pleased as well. We just look forward to a great year in 2000 with Kenny aboard."
KENNY BRACK -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - "I am very pleased to join a race winning team and one of the best teams in the CART series. I am looking forward to a great season next year. I have had the chance to meet some of the team members, Bobby and all of the other people and I think we are going to have a great year. This is going to be a great home for me and I think we are going to achieve great results together."
QUESTION TO BOBBY RAHAL -- WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT KENNY WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEFEND HIS INDY 500 CHAMPIONSHIP? "Our view is that we certainly are going through the process, or due diligence I guess, towards participating in the month of May at Indianapolis. I wish actually doing it was as simple as that, but there are a lot of factors at hand. Our partners' consideration is key. It's not an inexpensive proposition for us to do it in CART either, between the cars, engines and everything else. In saying that, I think that open-wheel racing deserves that we do everything we can to get back, and so over the next several months I will be talking with our partners to determine if we can go forward. It would certainly be my hope that we could, not only would I love to see and manage Kenny there, but I would love to see Max there. I think Max would light the place up. So to have Kenny and Max on my team at Indianapolis, I think, having won the race as a driver, would be as equally thrilling to win it as an owner. So, as I say, as we are going through the due diligence, and that's all we are doing right now at this stage, and it would be nice, but it cannot come at the expense of our CART program. That's our primary goal right now, to win the CART championship. So, we just have to sort of approach it from that point right now. But, right now, if I had my druthers, we would be there."
QUESTION TO KENNY BRACK -- WHAT WAS BEHIND YOUR DECISION TO GO TO CART? WAS IT THAT YOU HAD ALREADY WON THE IRL CHAMPIONSHIP AND THE INDY 500, YOUR BACKGROUND WAS IN ROAD RACING? WAS IT JUST THE LURE OF GETTING BACK TO WHERE YOUR ROOTS WERE AND THAT YOU ACCOMPLISHED EVERYTHING YOU COULD IN THE IRL? "What made me switch was that I fulfilled most of my goals in the IRL. I won the championship in 1998 and finished runner-up in 1999 and I won the Indianapolis 500 in 1999. I learned a lot from A.J. (Foyt), who is a master on the ovals about how to drive them and I think that I am ready for a new challenge. When this opportunity with Bobby (Rahal) came up and it became a reality, I really didn't have to think twice about it. Going from a race-winning outfit in the IRL to a race-winning outfit in CART, it couldn't be a better situation. Bobby has a great team together. I also wanted to get back into road racing, which is my background, I spent 16 years racing on road track and that is also a factor that influenced the decision. I was looking for a new challenge."
QUESTION TO KENNY BRACK -- HOW DID THE HOMESTEAD TEST GO AND WHAT ARE YOU INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF A CHAMP CAR? "I think the test went really well, obviously it had been three years since I had been on a road course, but we got down to a pretty respectable time. Obviously, there are some skills I need to hone, but I was happy with the test. The car was very good to drive and the team gave me fantastic support during the test. It's very important that the driver feel that the team is behind you and I really must say that it is a first-class team and a first-class effort."
QUESTION TO BOBBY RAHAL - SHOULD YOU BE ABLE TO RACE AT INDIANAPOLIS, MIGHT YOU BE AT PHOENIX ON THE CART OFF WEEKEND TO RACE AT PHOENIX IN THE IRL EVENT? "At this stage it would take all of our efforts just to find the things we need to just enter Indy. Frankly, I hope that one day we can go back to Phoenix in the Champ Cars with CART. So, at this stage of the game, my primary goal is to win the CART championship with our team and do what we can to participate in the Indy 500."
QUESTIONS TO BOBBY RAHAL - BOBBY, AS A CAR OWNER, DOES THE FACT THAT IT COSTS SO MUCH LESS TO RUN AN IRL PROGRAM COMPARED TO A CART PROGRAM APPEAL TO YOU? "Well, I think there is a lot of misconception out there. I was told by a leading IRL team what they spend, and if you were to take our series and divide it by half, because CART has twice as many races, in some respects they are spending more. Certainly some people can do it very inexpensively, but much of that is based on competition. The more competition, the more money needed, it just raises the stakes of the game. The economics to win are really to the same, and maybe a little less in CART. Our desire to go to Indianapolis is several fold: I think the fans deserve it, I think open-wheel racing needs it, both the IRL and CART need to do what they can to raise open-wheel racing back to its rightful place in American motorsport, and the only way for that to happen is for everyone to be back together at Indianapolis. I think, and I don't want to speak for Tony (George), but many people in Indianapolis feel the same. The main goal is for the fans and to elevate open-wheel racing back to its rightful place."
QUESTION TO KENNY BRACK - WHAT KIND OF LEARNING CURVE TO YOU ANTICIPATE WITH SWITCHING CARS? "First of all, when you go into a new series the learning curve is going to be steep. It's a new car, some new technology, and a bunch of new people I have to get to know and know how they work. I also need to get back to road racing. I have not driven a car on a road racing-type track in about three years, so there is a lot I have to learn. But, I have set myself high goals to win races next year. I am in racing to win an I think I can do that."
QUESTION TO BOBBY RAHAL - IF YOU HAVE MANY OF THE CART TEAMS THAT ARE EXPECTED TO GO TO INDIANAPOLIS GO AND SWEEP THE TOP-SIX POSITIONS IN THE RACE, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WOULD AFFECT OPEN-WHEEL RACING? 'I don't know how it would affect open-wheel racing. If we did go back, with all due respect, it would be to elevate the event back to a level it once was. As much as it was great drivers that made Indianapolis, it was also a case of great teams, such as Penske, Team McLaren, Foyt, Team Lotus, the list goes on and on. I think the inclusion of the CART teams into the Indy 500 would raise the level of the entire event. The sponsors would spend the type of money they once spent there. Hotel rooms wouldn't be cheap anymore, there would be some bad things that would happen along with it. But I think it would help bring back the stature of Indianapolis and, as a result of that, I think there would be kind of a halo effect over open-wheel racing as a whole, no matter where it was. I don't think anyone is looking at this as an anti-IRL move or anything. I think the IRL will continue to exist, but if we can compete at Indianapolis, the two separate series can compete afterwards."
QUESTION TO BOBBY RAHAL - DO THE CHANGES IN THE SCHEDULE AND THE TESTING LIMITATION PROPOSED ON CART TEAMS FOR THE 2000 SEASON ALLOW FOR ENOUGH TIME TO EFFECTIVELY TEST WITH THE UNFAMILIAR IRL EQUIPMENT TO MOUNT A PROFESSIONAL EFFORT AT INDY? ALSO, DOES IT NOT PUT PRESSURE ON YOURSELF AS A TEAM OWNER, AND YOUR SPONSORS TO MAKE A DECISION QUICKLY? "Number one, I don't think that anyone would feel that all you have to do is show up. For us it would have to be a parallel project. It cannot let this have a negative impact on our performance in CART, that is our major reason for being. Our ability to go will be predicated on its lack of negative impact on our current effort. That being said, there are good people out there that can shortcut the learning curve, so to speak, with those cars. So, in terms of populating a new team, or a sub team to do this, I think there is expertise available to do this. Having said that, there is a big demand on the CART teams to go forward with this, both financially and with people."
QUESTION TO BOBBY-PERHAPS SINCE THE IRL SCHEDULE STARTS EARLIER THAN THE CART SCHEDULE, MIGHT IT BE WORTHWHILE TO RUN AT ORLANDO TO GET A FEEL FOR THE CARS? "That track is about as far away as you can get from Indianapolis, so I don't see any value in that at all."
QUESTION TO KENNY BRACK - WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT BOBBY PRIOR TO HIM APPROACHING YOU AND HOW DID THIS DEAL COME TOGETHER? "Bobby is a famous driver and has won championships wherever he has been. When I drove Formula 3000 there were people helping me out who knew Bobby very well and he told me about Bobby's excursions in Europe, so I knew about him for quite some while. We got to speak late in the summer this year and when he asked me to come and drive for him, it fit very well into my plans. Obviously I have had a lot of success in the IRL and have fulfilled my goals there so I was seeking another challenge out there. So to go from a race winning team in the IRL to a race winning team in CART is a great opportunity, I really didn't have to think about it very long."
QUESTIONS TO KENNY BRACK -- HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO GO BACK TO INDY AND WOULD YOU BE DISAPPOINTED IF YOU CAN'T GO? "Indianapolis is the world's biggest race and from a driver's standpoint I will never win a bigger race. My goal for next year is to win in the CART series. Obviously I would love to go back to Indy and defend the win, but I do understand if that cannot happen. But my primary goal is to win next year in the CART series."
QUESTION TO BOBBY RAHAL - HOW MUCH OF A STATEMENT DO YOU THINK YOU MADE BY SIGNING THE DEFENDING INDY CHAMPION AND WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE DOES THAT SEND TO THE IRL? "I don't know. The reason I asked Kenny to join the team is because I respect Kenny for his successes. He comes from Formula 3000 which seems to be the place to come from, I guess if you can compete there you can compete anywhere. It's great saying that you have an Indy 500 champ in your team. I don't really know what kind of statement you can make, and I don't really know if there needs to be a statement made. Kenny is here because of his talent."
QUESTION TO BOBBY RAHAL - I WONDERED WHETHER FORD WOULD HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOU RUNNING A GM AURORA ENGINE IN THE INDY 500? "We have very strong relationships with our sponsors. My relationship with Ford is absolutely paramount to me. Ford Motor Company has been very good to Team Rahal and Bobby Rahal and we have developed a very good relationship over the last couple years. I will do nothing to compromise that relationship first and foremost, and the same holds true to Miller and with Shell and everyone else on this team. Like I said, there is a lot of work to be done in the next 60 days to go forward, but make no mistake, my loyalty to Ford is 100 percent and we are not going to do anything to compromise that relationship."
RAHAL SIGNS FORMER TEAM KOOL GREEN ENGINEER HALLIDAY
In a move as significant as today's signing of Kenny Brack, Team Rahal also announced the signing of veteran race engineer and designer, Don Halliday.
Halliday, in an attempt to bolster an already solid core of race engineers, will join Team Rahal's engineering staff for the 2000 season. Last season, Halliday was the technical director at Team Kool Green and was responsible for the engineering on Dario Franchitti's car over the last two seasons.
BOBBY RAHAL - Owner, Team Rahal -- HOW DO YOU SEE DON HALLIDAY'S ROLE WITHIN THE TEAM? "As happy as I am with Kenny joining the team, I am equally so that Don has returned to the team. We have known each other for quite a while and the respect I have for him is complete. I want to make something clear - I am not satisfied with the job our engineering team did this year. They did a hell of a job, especially towards the second half of the season. But Don brings something that our engineering team doesn't have and that's gray hair. They are all young guys and I think having the wisdom, guidance and perspective that Don can bring to us is really all we need to go forward and be a championship team. With Don I think we can give Kenny and Max the best efforts on the race track, and knowing their capabilities I think when you put that all together we look pretty good going into the 2000 season."
DO YOU SEE DON AS A RACE ENGINEER OR OVERSEEING THE RACE ENGINEERS? "Don will be a race engineer as well as being in charge of the race setups and things of that nature."
HAVE YOU DETERMINED IF DON WILL WORK FOR MAX OF KENNY, OR WILL HE FLOAT BETWEEN THE TWO? "Well, since Tim Cindric's departure, we are doing a number of changes within the team. While nothing is 100-percent defined, I think that Tim Reiter and Max developed a very good relationship as the season went on and I don't see much point in upsetting that cart so to speak. So, therefore it only makes sense for Kenny and Don to work together, but having said that, just as I expect Kenny and Max to work together, I expect that Don will share his expertise with Tim and help with the development of that program as well. The lines will become a little blurred over time, but for the time being I think it will be Don's head listening to Kenny on the phones."