CHAMPCAR/CART: Coyne and Camathias press conference, part II

An interview with Dale Coyne and Joel Camathias Part 2 of 2 Q: Dale, you've been working on a deal for the past couple years, getting back into the CART series. How did your paths meet? Dale Coyne: Joel came with his manager and his...

An interview with Dale Coyne and Joel Camathias

Part 2 of 2

Q:  Dale, you've been working on a deal for the past couple years,
getting back into the CART series.  How did your paths meet?

Dale Coyne: Joel came with his manager and his father to the Rockingham race. I think globally what's happened in CART is that it's become something that's attainable to do. I think engine manufacturers being here was a great thing for us. For the customer teams, it drove the cost of racing too high to survive. I think that's certainly what happened to us in the past two years. I think the move that CART has done to lower the cost and to have the new program with the engine support program, financial support program, makes the part that the team has to fund a much more realistic number. Together with some sponsors that we have, together with some sponsors that have supported Joel through the years, we're able to hit the goal and be able to run a car.

All these new rules that CART has done has been very good. It's a bit of correction factor, but it needed to happen. You're seeing it in CART. You're about to see it in Formula 1. The price gets so high, it becomes very hard to compete. I think this is a new direction. I think this is a new beginning for CART. It's going to be good for the series and all of those teams and drivers which participate.

Eric Mauk: Joel, Dale said you came to Rockingham to see the event, feel your way around. What were your first impressions when you saw the Champ Cars on the ovals at Rockingham?

Joel Camathias: To be honest, very, very good. Very fantastic race weekend because I see on the 3000 International Championship, was crazy, at the same level Formula 1 and CART. In CART, you can see two or three inch, touch the car. In Formula 1, that's impossible. Mr. Chris Pook, John Lopes, are really good people. Also I hoped I could work with this organization next year. Is much, much better. The cars are fantastic. The driver, I see sign the autographs every hour. I haven't seen this in Formula 1. This is a big difference.

Eric Mauk: We talked earlier about in the European series sometimes some of these feeder series, while they're well run, it's tough to get the miles you need to build your skills, especially for someone like yourself. Was that part of the allure, the idea of being able to get more miles?

Joel Camathias: Yes, for sure, because there is three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Normally in Euro 3000, there is only Saturday and Sunday, or in 3000 there is two sessions. The race is not a lot for the driver. I can run next year 19 races, a lot of tests. My choice is for that also.

Eric Mauk: Dale, you're no stranger to fielding cars for rookies, guys that are making their first runs, limited Champ Car experience. Obviously you have a lot of Champ Car experience yourself. What do you do, what do you pass along to these drivers their first time out that gets them comfortable?

Dale Coyne: I think the biggest thing is not to try too hard. People get in these cars, you go out, you try too hard, you try to make something happen. They're all talented drivers. You usually know, especially in a test environment, it's calm, there's no pressure, and you usually know right away what you have. You know how good the guy is on car control and feel. The biggest thing on a race weekend is to stay focused on that, not get caught up in the pressure, thinking, "I have to go half a second faster." If you try to go half a second faster, you usually don't. If you smooth out, do what you do naturally, the half a second comes automatically. I think that's the biggest thing, just keeping them calm, keeping what their natural talents allow them to do.

Q:  I was wondering more about your testing program between now and
spring training.  Do you have anything planned?

Dale Coyne: Yes. We'd like to get out. The first test we did was an evaluation. Now while there's some testing rules and limitations on how many days we can run, we want to go out and get the rookie test part of it done. We haven't had observation from CART yet. The goal right now is to go out in December and do an oval day and a road course day to get the rookie part done, and then when testing opens up in January, to try to get out to tracks like Laguna Seca and Fontana, some warm weather tracks, continue to do more testing. We want to get as many days in as we can before the first race in.

Q: John Lopes has said the rookies will be allowed more days this season.

Dale Coyne: They were this year. You could run I believe it was five days this year and three of those days you could take in season. I think next year we're looking at some kind of formula, by tire distribution or something. There traditionally has been more days for rookies. We absolutely plan on running the maximum allowable days for testing.

Eric Mauk: Joel, obviously you've done a ton the road course time, but I don't image you've had much time on an oval track. What are your thoughts on running the oval tracks?

Joel Camathias: Yeah, I'm very curious because I never drove on oval. I think because I like normally fast circuits, fast corners, I think an oval is a fast track. I'll look to Dale because he was a driver to explain.

Q: Dale, could you make a quick comment on your team's role in the Cosworth durability testing coming up I believe starting this weekend.

Dale Coyne: I'm actually in Phoenix today in the hotel room making this call because we start running tomorrow morning with Roberto Moreno to do some mapping for the engine. We plan to be here for a series of dates, not certain how many yet. They want to run 1200 miles on this first engine and have it looked at before everyone gets their engines distributed to them in the middle of December. We're out here now. We've sent one truck up from Mexico, a number of the other teams come down from Chicago. We have both of our trucks here, are ready to start running tomorrow morning with it.

Eric Mauk: A little background on the Cosworth engine testing. They're going to run 400 miles at Sebring, starting out with Roberto Moreno getting it set up where it needs to be, then Toyota Atlantic Series driver John Fogarty from Dorricott Racing, and Barber Dodge Pro Series driver AJ Allmendinger will be driving the car the next couple days. What they will do is take that engine out of the car, or take the car and engine, and run it at an oval track for another 400 miles, then back to another road course for another 400, simulating the 1200 miles we're trying to get out of these new engines without rebuilds.

Eric Mauk: Mr. Dale Coyne and Joel, thank you very much. We hope to hear a lot from you in the near future.

Dale Coyne: Good to be back.

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Coyne/Camathias press conference, part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Joel Camathias , Roberto Moreno , Chris Pook , Dale Coyne