An interview with Michel Jourdain Jr., Michel Jourdain Sr. and Luis Diaz. Part 1 of 2 INDIANAPOLIS (November 12, 2002) - What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART FedEx Championship...
An interview with Michel Jourdain Jr., Michel Jourdain Sr. and Luis Diaz.
Part 1 of 2
INDIANAPOLIS (November 12, 2002) - What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART FedEx Championship Series driver Michel Jourdain Jr., his father Michel Sr. and CART Toyota Atlantic pilot Luis Diaz of Dorricott Racing.
Eric Mauk: Welcome to the CART weekly teleconference presented by World Com. This is in advance of the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa to be raced at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the season finale of the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season. We are joined on the call today by Team Rahal driver Michel Jourdain, Jr. and a special guest, his father, Michel, Sr., who has more than a little experience driving Champ Cars in Mexico City as he participated in the first two CART races in Mexico City back in 1980 and 1981. Thank you for joining us.
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Thank you.
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Thank you.
Eric Mauk: Michel, Jr. as you know is having his best season in his seven-year Champ Car career. He currently has 105 points, standing ninth in the championship standings, and scored points in his first 17 races this season.
Michel, I know you've been asked this 20,000 times this year, but share with us about your thoughts on the season, what has made you more successful this year than what you have been in seasons past?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Well, I think it's a little bit of everything. I mean, obviously I have more experience every year, which is helping. Being able to step into Team Rahal, which has so much experience, being able to work with teammates, Jimmy [Vasser], for the first time in my career. The team has experience, has worked with all the best drivers in the world, and that has helped me. All the races, all the practice, it's just easier to get in a rhythm, learn how to finish all the races.
I think it's a little bit of everything. The crew gets the best pit stops. Just everything is so much better. That helps a lot.
Eric Mauk: To the elder Jourdain here, some of your thoughts. Obviously your son has been racing for seven years in the Champ Car Series, pretty much been racing his whole life. You're watching him go through what has been his best season of his career, to date.
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Well, of course, like he said, we knew that going to a team like Rahal, with all their experience, a teammate like Jimmy, that's all he needed. He was for many years with the Herdez team, great people, great team, but he never had a teammate, and the team didn't have the experience. I guess all this is making the difference.
Eric Mauk: Have you both had a chance to go out on the Mexico City track and take a look around, get the lay of the land?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: We went around just to look at it. It's beautiful. The track is just beautiful. Everybody who is going to be here for the event is going to realize all the investment. The investments were very well done.
Eric Mauk: Michel, Sr., obviously you raced on the track in 1980 and '81, it was a little shorter, 2.48 as opposed to 2.75. The famed Peraltada Curve has had a bit of a bite taken out of it. Can you compare and contrast the two layouts?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Yes. The difference now, we're using part of the Formula 1 track, not going through the Peraltada, but going into the [baseball] stadium, which is the most unique in the world. It's beautiful. So, yes, the track is longer. I mean, I would say that 80 percent of the track is the same. At that time in '80 and '81, the track was shorter, and we went through the Peraltada, which is a very fast corner. Now it's different. But it's very similar in a way.
Eric Mauk: We'll open it up for questions.
Q: Michel, Jr., how do you feel about finally being able to race on a track in your home city?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Well, it's unbelievable. You know, it's a lot of things. To race in the city I was born, that I've lived all my life, it's great. All my family lives here, all my friends, everything. To race in this track, which pretty much I was born here watching my dad race, all my uncles, then I started racing here myself. I raced in Mexico for seven years. Some years probably I raced 10, 15 times on this track. It's a very special feeling. Especially now to come and see the unbelievable job they have done on the track, it's unbelievable.
It's the best track we're going to race in the whole year by far. The people, the whole city, moves around this event. To have a city of 20 million people moving around an event, it's amazing. I'm just so proud to be a Mexican because of the track and the event. It's just great.
Q: How do you feel about your chances for this weekend? Do you know the track well enough that you think the setup you're going to get on the car is going to work straight out of the box?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Well, I'll know on Friday. This track is just so different to every other track we race on. I mean, it's just so different. It's just very different because we have an unbelievable straight [away], some very slow corners, some very, very fast corners, we change from pavement to concrete in the little stadium. There are just so many different things that make it very, very unique.
Q: Michel, Sr., you must be very proud that once again racing as returned to Mexico City.
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Oh, yes. I mean, it's beautiful. I've been on this track since the beginning. The first race was in '59. I was here. I've been on this track every year and many, many times. I've seen the rebuild in the '80s for Formula 1. They did a great job. Now you're talking something really different and very impressive. The track is just one of the best in the world. I'm very excited about this race.
Of course, for me, having my son racing in this event, it makes it very, very special.
Q: You've been involved in racing in Mexico for all of your life along with your brother. Can you give me a synopsis of what all you have done, how that really directed you up to this weekend?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Well, I've been involved in racing all my life, as a spectator, then as a driver for like 30 years. Then I moved to be a promoter for the last 20 years. Well, I was a promoter and driver at the same time. Don't think I'm 70 or 80 years old. I was a driver and a promoter at the same time.
But I've been promoting different series in Mexico for the last 25 years, 28 years, building some racetracks around the country. That's all I've done all my life, just be around racing one way or the other.
My brother Bernard, same thing. He was a driver for many, many years. He got to CART, all the way to CART. He has his own team. He was in CART for like two years. Then he had a pretty bad accident in Indianapolis. I guess that helped for him to quit.
He's coming to Mexico for the race. He wants to be here with all the family. This is a racing family, that's for sure.
Q: Michel, Jr., when you first heard confirmation that the Champ Car Series was coming to Mexico City, what was your initial reaction?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Well, we've been working on trying to get a race in Mexico City for many years. Since Adrian [Fernandez], a couple years before I came to CART, everybody was trying to get the race. My dad, we didn't see it. [Champ Car owner] Mr. Forsythe was very good to do it. It was just an unbelievable dream come true.
To race in Monterrey [Mexico] was unbelievable. I raced in Monterrey for many years also, on a different track. But coming to Mexico was already huge for me and for all the sponsors. But now to come to Mexico City, to the track, this track is for the Mexicans like Indy and Daytona put together for the Americans.
Just to be able to race here, it's the best feeling. It's been a lot of work for everybody, for all the sponsors, for everybody. The work they've done here on the track, it's unbelievable. Everybody, when they arrive today, tomorrow, Thursday, when they come and see the track, nobody will believe it.
Q: Michel, Sr., when you look at all of the history that you have with racing at this track, you see what is coming, not only those that will be in attendance, by the worldwide audience, how does that make you feel?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Well, of course, unbelievable. I raced on this track for many years. I promoted races for more than 20 years at this track. Of course, I wanted to be the promoter of this race. Well, maybe it was too big for me. I tried, I couldn't make it. But I'm very proud to be a small part of it. I'm helping on all the national series that are going to be racing in the program during the weekend. I'm very proud to be here and really the work that the people have done here is unbelievable. The track is going to be perfect for the next 20 years.
Like Michel said, this is our racing cathedral for our country. I'm very proud to be here. Like I said, this track is going to be great for the next 20 or more years.
Q: What does it mean for Mexico City to have this race?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Well, imagine, it's the largest city in the world, over 20 million people. The track is in a way the middle of the city, very close to the airport. This is a racetrack with a lot of history, where the very famous Ricardo Rodriguez died. I mean, this is something very special for the Mexicans. This track, this event, with three Mexicans racing in this series, this event, all this makes it very, very special.
Eric Mauk: You talked about promoting the support races going on. Looking at the schedule of events, a very busy slate. Can you tell us about some of the other racing we'll be seeing this weekend?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: The schedule is very, very busy. We're going to have on Friday a race for Neons. We're going to have more than 50 cars equally prepared. It's one class. We're going to have more than 50 cars for that race after qualifying.
On Saturday, we're going to have a vintage race with 50 cars, beautiful old Mustangs, Porsches, Ferraris, just beautiful cars. That's going to be before CART qualifying. Then after qualifying, we're going to have a Dodge trucks race with like 23, 24 trucks. A great event for sure, too. Then Sunday we're going to have a race for Mustangs. We're going to have 30 to 31 Mustangs. For sure the greatest series we have in Mexico. That's the NASCAR of Mexico. Then we're going to have some shifters karts, 50 shifter karts, just on part of the track, then the CART event.
It's going to be a very busy weekend and the spectators are going to have a great time.
Eric Mauk: If we can't find any of our Champ Car drivers at any time this weekend, we'll look for a vantage point because they'll be watching the racing.
Michel Jourdain Sr.: I forgot to say Sunday we're going to have a celebrity race, too. Very busy weekend.
Three amigos press conference, part II