CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Ford - Keith Wiggins interview

This Week in Ford Racing October 7, 2003 CART Champ Car World Series One of the longest standing teams in the Champ Car paddock dons the red, white and green colors of Herdez Competition. While the Herdez name might be new to Champ Car, the...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 7, 2003

CART Champ Car World Series

One of the longest standing teams in the Champ Car paddock dons the red, white and green colors of Herdez Competition. While the Herdez name might be new to Champ Car, the team has been in existence since 1986 in its previous form as Bettenhausen Racing. The team has undergone many changes over the past few years and one of the people who has aided in the growth and rebuilding of the team has been Keith Wiggins. Wiggins joined the team in 2000 after serving as President of Lola International, Inc. Wiggins weighed in on the impressive one, two finish by Herdez Competition drivers Mario Dominguez and Roberto Moreno in Miami, on the difficulty of taking over an existing team and on the decision to have Roberto Gonzalez drive for Herdez in Mexico City.

KEITH WIGGINS - Managing Director and Minority Owner, Herdez Competition

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST TASK FOR YOU SINCE JOINING THIS TEAM?

"I think when you come in to take over an existing team it's harder than starting a new one because there are a lot of existing ideas and people already in place. Plus, for me, I had to get used to the U.S. way of doing things, which is different than the European side to some extent. I would say the biggest thing that we've done is put some stability in through the involvement of Grupo Herdez, and also the gradual progression in people. The team is all about the people in it and in the beginning is was difficult to get good people because they tended to want to stay away from the team a little bit. You have to look at the drivers and the package that we have. I would say the single biggest thing is just gradually building a team of good people and changing the team into a different atmosphere and entity than what is was before."

WAS ADDING A SECOND CAR THIS SEASON A BIG ADJUSTMENT FOR THE TEAM?

"Not really. I've always run two cars in my past and apart from the equipment, some logistics and some late nights before the first race, it was a pretty smooth transition. The biggest thing again is just expanding the personnel."

DID BRINGING IN AN EXPERIENCED DRIVER IN ROBERTO MORENO HELP WITH THAT SMOOTH TRANSITION?

"Yeah definitely, the whole purpose of having a second car was to build a team with experience and we wouldn't have taken anybody that wasn't qualified. Either in terms of speed, if they'd come out of European 3000, or experience like in Roberto's place. He's another ingredient that has helped the whole thing progress along with a lot more engineering structure."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ'S WIN IN MIAMI WAS YOUR SECOND AS A TEAM. WAS THIS ONE MORE ENJOYABLE THAN LAST SEASON'S AUSTRALIA WIN?

"I felt Australia was a good win for the team because everybody was smart and whoever won would have been happy to take the credit. We genuinely took a gamble on what we thought the pit window would be considering how many laps we thought CART wanted to achieve with the night coming in and everything else going on with the weather. Really, within that five lap window we'd have gone zero or hero and so I still believe that the team made a good call in that race. If it had gone the way everyone else predicted then they would have been happy to take that call. On the other hand, it wasn't a pleasurable win because everybody wants to win by performance. There was a little bit of happiness to take the win but we didn't feel good in a lot of ways. Miami was nice to put the record straight a year later and then do, what I believe, the team as a structure has been capable of for a long time."

HOW BIG WAS YOUR ONE, TWO SWEEP FOR THIS TEAM IN MIAMI?

"We have had both cars finish in the top ten four or five times this season, Mario is third in laps completed this season and we certainly had the quickest pit stop in Miami, I guess I'm banging the drum a little bit there because people tend not to expect that from this team. This year 99 percent of our pit stops have been first class and the reliability of the cars has been 100 percent. We've only had one issue which was a fuel metering issue in Mid-Ohio, but apart from crashes we haven't had a single failure, and that's a credit to the team that's been built."

MEXICO CITY IS ALREADY A HUGE RACE FOR THIS TEAM, HOW WILL YOUR MIAMI RESULTS IMPACT THIS RACE?

"There's no doubt that Mexico City is a big one for all of our sponsors and drivers. I have to say going there with one in the bag is obviously a nicer feeling for the team. Mario ran very well last year, I think he was seventh until we had a failure so certainly you can't get any better going in. I always try to treat this race the same as any other race, but for Mexico of course it's huge. We come in on the back of some great PR and Mario goes in with a good feeling and it's good press to come in and win the week before so that gives everybody confidence and makes everybody feel good. But you still obviously have to do a good job in Mexico."

ROBERTO GONZALEZ WILL DRIVE IN ROBERTO MORENO'S PLACE THIS WEEKEND. WHEN DID YOU START THINKING ABOUT ADDING ANOTHER MEXICAN DRIVER FOR THE MEXICO CITY RACE?

"It had been discussed a few times off and on, could we run a third car in Mexico and I said no we don't want to do that you cant just put a third car out there, it takes awhile to perfect the team. Also, you don't want to do that for a really important race. It was a good relationship, a good sponsor package and media is very big down there so it helped the team to add a second Mexican driver. It is a pure one off deal and Roberto Moreno is fully on board as part of the team so he'll be back in the car for Australia. We are in a commercial business and we'll have some large benefits in this case and that's the name of the game."

DID MORENO'S SECOND PLACE FINSIH IN MIAMI MAKE IT A LITTLE TOUGHER TO TAKE HIM OUT OF THE SEAT IN MEXICO?

"It was, and sometimes it's ironic that these things happen, but sometimes perhaps fate plays a big part. In reflection, obviously it would be nice to have Roberto Moreno in the car, but we are also very excited to see how Roberto Gonzalez does. He did a very good job in the test, and yeah it's a reflection, but we can't look back. It was the decision that was made and we'll continue with it."

DID GONZALEZ'S TEST AT PUTNAM PARK RAISE THE CONFIDENCE OF THIS TEAM?

"Sure. One of the things that we hope is that whatever his talent or whatever he can do under the pressure in his first one-off race like this, we just want him to do a good job, a better job than he's done before, and make him and us look good. I don't think we can pressure him into expecting too much but he didn't put a foot wrong in the test and he's an intelligent kid and did some good laps. Everybody is optimistic and interested to see what the outcome is."

-ford racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Roberto Moreno , Mario Dominguez , Roberto Gonzalez