An interview with Michel Jourdain Jr., Michel Jourdain Sr. and Luis Diaz. Part 2 of 2 Eric Mauk: We have just been joined by Luis Diaz. He finished a successful Toyota Atlantic season for the Dorricott Racing squad. He finished fourth in...
An interview with Michel Jourdain Jr., Michel Jourdain Sr. and Luis Diaz.
Part 2 of 2
Eric Mauk: We have just been joined by Luis Diaz. He finished a successful Toyota Atlantic season for the Dorricott Racing squad. He finished fourth in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, turning wins at Elkhart Lake and the Portland circuit. Thanks for coming on today.
Luis Diaz: Hi, everybody.
Eric Mauk: Luis, you're standing by as a possible relief driver this weekend in case Adrian Fernandez cannot recover from the injuries suffered at Surfers Paradise. Talk about the mindset it takes for you to come into a race weekend and prepare for a race without really quite knowing if you're going to be able to race or not.
Luis Diaz: Well, that's right. Right now my situation, it's very uncertain. I need to talk with Adrian about his situation. I hope he's going to be able to drive this weekend. But if he's not able to drive, I am going to take his seat this weekend.
Eric Mauk: Not to say that that is the only thing you've got going on. You are one of eight drivers that will be participating in the Ford-Cosworth engine endurance test that will take place beginning November 21st, 22nd and 23rd at Sebring. We'll also run the engines on an oval course and another road course to be named later. The tests are designed where we'll run the same engine for three separate 400-mile tests, running 1200 miles on the same engine, to help Ford-Cosworth put together a power plant that we will use in the Champ Car Series for next season.
Talk little bit about that, what you expect to do as a driver there, and your feelings on being selected to undergo the tests.
Luis Diaz: Well, I really feel great. I think this is great for all the young drivers. This is a great motivation for all of us. I feel very grateful to the CART guys, they picked me for this. I hope to help the team, Ford, to improve the engine and to help them develop the engine for next year.
Eric Mauk: Let's go back to questions.
Q: Michel, Sr., with the impact of the race attracting I've heard projected numbers of a quarter million people for the race, do you have any idea what the economic impact to Mexico City is going to be?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: For sure the impact is going to be very impressive. I know the impact in Monterrey, they talk about maybe over $30 million in a weekend for Monterrey. So for this race in Mexico City, I'm sure we're talking over $50 million that the city is going to get from all the tourism, international and national, that is going to be coming for the event. Of course, this city has so many hotels and restaurants and everything. I'm sure almost everything is going to be full. The impact to the city is going to be great. Of course, the event is going to be on TV worldwide, which is going to help develop tourism in Mexico. The impact is going to be great.
Eric Mauk: Michel, Jr., tell us a little more about the racetrack itself. There seem to be some very tricky parts. The esses coming out of the of the baseball stadium especially grab your attention. Could you tell us about where some of the spots on the track are that you might be able to make up some time?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: This track is very tricky everywhere. You have a very, very long straight, then a very big breaking corner, then a right-left-right, then a very long straight. You have to get the first corner good to go fast in the three corners later. After that, you come into what is called in Mexico the stadium, because it's like a stadium. That's kind of like a stadium, I think similar to what they have in Hockenheim [Germany]. Probably the people there, they're going to be able to see the cars the most amount of time, 25, 30 seconds.
Then you have left-right-right-left-right, many corners in a row. It's all about rhythm. If you take the first one bad, you miss everything. Just the whole track, you got to get it right all the time. If not, you lose a lot of time for later, for a straight. You just have to have a rhythm and all that.
Then you come to the last section, Foro Sol. It's unbelievable. It's the most exciting corner in the world. But I think for these cars, just the way the whole situation was, it would have been a little bit too dangerous, they would have had to do too many modifications to make it absolutely safe. But going through the Foro Sol, it's unbelievable. You have 30,000 people in the stadium going right in the middle of it. I wish for a couple of laps in the race I could step out of my car and just stand in there and watch the race and all the people. They have baseball games there. They have a lot of concerts. I've been to concerts there. After I knew that we were going to race there, to watch all the people now, to know all those people are going to come and watch us, go in the middle of that, like in the parade, it's going to be unbelievable.
The track I think is very good for the drivers, it's very good for the teams, it's the best for spectators. It's going to be a great event.
Eric Mauk: You've had to deal with this a couple times in Monterrey, but talk about what it takes for you to stay focused at a race in your home country when obviously there's going to be 300,000 and many of them want to see you. A lot of demands on your time. How tough is it to stay focused in the race car?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: I've been trying to get the busiest things already. Last week I was up at 6:00 in the morning and going to midnight every day. I tried to do the busiest the earliest as possible. Like on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I don't have as many things to do. I can spend most of the time with my engineers and mechanics. I'll have to think I'm in Australia, Long Beach, somewhere else, not to think I am in Mexico City. That's what I tried to do when I was in Monterrey. If you try to listen to the people, what they are saying, when they come and see you, all that, it would be impossible to stay focused.
Q: Luis, talk about how difficult, or is it difficult to be in a situation where you think you might be driving, but you don't know?
Luis Diaz: Well, actually it's very difficult. I can't sleep and all. Sometimes it's better if you know something. But at this point I don't know anything. I think Adrian is going to be with the doctor tomorrow or today, I don't know. If they give Adrian the chances to be driving on Friday, he's going to try the car. But if he doesn't feel very comfortable in the car, if he's got some pain or something, I have to drive. I think I'm not going to know till Friday if I'm going to be there or not. So it's really very difficult because here in Mexico, Adrian is a very popular driver. Almost all the people want to see Adrian on the track, like Michel or Mario [Dominguez]. It's a very difficult situation for me.
I'm here to help Adrian, to help his sponsors. I'm going to try my best to be focused. If they need me, I'm going to be there.
Q: How much pressure would it be for you if you get the nod that you're going to drive to not only be driving in your home country in a CART Champ Car race, but also to replace Adrian Fernandez who lit the fire of Champ Car racing in your country?
Luis Diaz: Well, it's going to be a huge pressure for me. I know that. All the people, including Adrian, he's been supporting me a lot from the test. I think with that, with his support, I think all the people here in Mexico, they know that I don't have the experience of Adrian or his talent. I need more time, obviously.
I think it's going to be hard, but with Adrian's support and all his team's support, I'm going to be fine.
Q: Michel, Jr., in your wildest dreams, what would it be like to win this race Sunday? What would you feel?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Well, obviously it's something I think a lot about. In all these years, if I'm going to win this one, I would change all the races and many championships to win this race. The way the track is going to be, the way all the people are going to be here, it's going to be unbelievable. This is going to be probably the biggest sporting event in the history of Mexico, the amount of people we're going to have here. The biggest soccer stadium holds like 120,000 people. There's going to be a lot more people here on Sunday.
To be able to be part of that event and to have all these people coming to see mostly Adrian, Mario and myself, if I win this race, it's something that would change my life forever. It would be like an American winning the
Indianapolis 500. It would be exactly the same thing or maybe even bigger because in the States you have other racing, you have basketball, baseball, all these sports that are so, so big. If a player wins the Super Bowl, it's a team of 50 or 60, I don't know how many people. The same with basketball and all that. But here, even though it's a whole team, at the end I'm the one in the car. To win this would be the biggest thing that could ever happen to me in my life.
Q: Michel, Sr., I remember when Adrian won his first Champ Car race. We were talking the next week. He said he felt as though he brought some pride back to his country. Is this race doing much the same thing?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: I remember when Adrian won his first race. If I remember well, it was Toronto when he won. Of course, he deserved it because of course he deserves everything he has. He's a great driver. It's the same for this race. All these guys, the three Mexicans, imagine winning a race in any part of the world is very important. Like Michel says, this race is completely different. You're going to be in your hometown in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The whole country is going to be watching the race on TV. If any Mexican wins this race, he's going to be a real hero. Like Michel said, it's going to change his life completely, like winning the Indy 500.
Q: Does the race itself bring pride to the country?
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Yes, of course. Of course this is a country that is more toward soccer, football. I'm sure that after soccer in this country racing is the second biggest sport, the second biggest thing in this country. Basketball and American football and baseball, and all that is not that big in Mexico. This event is going to be very, very big because CART is very big. We had in CART for many years my brother Bernard, Hector Rebaque. For sure, it all changed when Adrian Fernandez got into CART. Then Michel and Mario Dominguez, and I'm sure we're going to see more Mexicans in the future, like Luis Diaz. A great kid, a great driver. This is important, very, very important for Mexico.
Eric Mauk: This concludes the CART media teleconference presented by World Com. Thank you very much to Michel, Jr. and Michel, Sr. as well as Luis Diaz. Best of week luck this weekend.
Michel Jourdain Sr.: Thank you.
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Thank you.
Luis Diaz: See you, my friends.
Three amigos press conference, part I