CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Champ Car press conference, part I

Champ Car World Series Media Teleconference Transcript with: Adrian Fernandez, Jerome Fynaardt, Terry Haskel and Emerson Fittipaldi Part 1 of 3 ADAM SAAL: The historic Milwaukee Mile celebrates 100 years of racing action in 2003 with this...

Champ Car World Series Media Teleconference Transcript with:
Adrian Fernandez, Jerome Fynaardt, Terry Haskel and Emerson Fittipaldi

Part 1 of 3

ADAM SAAL: The historic Milwaukee Mile celebrates 100 years of racing action in 2003 with this Saturday's race marking the 102nd Champ Car event held on the legendary oval. The first one was way back in 1933. It is also the first time that CART will field competition at night, and we have with us today Adrian Fernandez, the 2002 Milwaukee Mile polesitter and race runner-up, as well as a couple of representatives from Musco Lighting, Jerome Fynaardt, who is the mobile sales manager and Terry Haskel, who is the event manager and they can talk about how we can supply the lighting for drivers like Adrian and the others to do their stuff in what will be an historic event for us and we look forward to it.

We'll get started with Adrian. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to join us today.

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Thank you.

ADAM SAAL: This will be a new experience for you racing with the other drivers. Talk a little about the anticipation. It's always interesting; new racers like to try new things, and I don't think you've had any testing experience or any racing experience and you're going to run under the lights. Tell me how much you are looking forward to it.

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: It's going to be very interesting. I think it's going to be great for the fans. It is absolutely magic when they race at night. I think it's very special for the anniversary especially now with the new grandstands and everything. I'm sure I have never raced under the lights at night. I finished up my career racing with the lights on the car a little bit like 24 hours at Le Mans without the lights on the racetrack. I don't see any problems, I see more of a problem, not problem but just for the driver to get used to it basically running in cold conditions. There's a little bit in the weather forecast that we may be under low 50s, and that's the only thing. So my girlfriend was giving me the bottled water on the pits; she's going to give me hot chocolate. It's going to be great to race in this new configuration.

ADAM SAAL: Adrian is the driver of the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. His best showing this year was at Long Beach. Talk about your season so far and you are obviously going back to a track on which you performed incredibly well last year. You're not in top on the points at this stage, but can the championship be in reach for you as we start the balance of the season?

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I think so. I mean, we are trying to make some changes, but we have the consistency that we need for the championship. Like you said, last year we were dominant through the whole weekend. We just had that problem at the start of the race, but we had a good car so hopefully we can bring that. Obviously the configuration is a little bit different. We have a lot more downforce and less power, so that's going to make it easier to pass. But it's going to make it a more exciting race. I hope that our base from last year is going to transfer into this year. In terms of this year, it's been a little bit up-and-down. We had good results in Monterrey and then at Long Beach. We were looking forward to good races after coming back from very strong testing sessions we had in Portland and Phoenix. Unfortunately we just made a mistake on the way we picked our configuration for both races. Basically that left me with no chance of being competitive in Germany. But I think we can get back into these next few races and the changes that we are working toward the future and being pretty strong at the end of the year.

ADAM SAAL: I need to mention at this point that it's quite possible we are going to be joined by Emerson Fittipaldi, the 1989 Champ Car titlist who made announcement for his racing team earlier today. And a couple minutes from now, I think we'll have him join us for some breaking news related to that announcement and we look forward to that.

One final question for you before we move on to our friends from Musco. Everybody is running the same power this year, yet there still seems to be quite a bit of leeway in the times that you see on the grid. Has it been a problem with everybody having the same equipment or do you still see it as competitive as ever?

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I think it's very competitive. The thing you saw in Germany was that people picked the configuration for Brands Hatch and whatever it is you think was going to be right or wrong at Germany. Even if you knew you were wrong in Germany, you could not do anything. That's why you saw the difference between some drivers and the leaders. But I don't see that's going to happen in the next races. You are going to see more competition with, obviously, top teams like Newman/Haas and Team Player's. They are strong teams that are always going to be there, with their experience and people and everything. Even though the equipment is very similar you are always going to have a little bit of an edge just because of the expertise and everything. It's just always you're going to be able to get an edge on everybody if you work hard, to make the car competitive.

So the only thing that we have to do with the rest of the team is try to close that gap. I believe the next race is going to be very competitive. We are hoping with this new elevation on Milwaukee and running at night, hopefully the temperature will be consistent. It will be good for passing. It allows the drivers to hopefully go side-by-side like in the old days on this track. This was one of the tracks in the old days that you could pass. That's what [CART Champ Car President and CEO] Chris Pook and his team have been able to try to do with these new rules which makes for good racing. And all of the fans that come to see us at night for the first time in history on this track are going to be very happy with the results.

ADAM SAAL: This is a history-making event and Adrian and his colleagues will take to the track tomorrow night. It's a Thursday/Friday/Saturday event. The race will be live on SPEED Channel Saturday under the lights.

And the people that are going to provide it are the top group in the industry for supplying Major League lighting projects such as this. Its Musco Lighting based in Iowa and we are delighted to have Jerome Fynaardt and Terry Haskel with us.

Jerome, a question for you. This project came about basically late but we're going to see your best in this action. What can the fans and the drivers expect on Saturday night?

JEROME FYNAARDT: I think both the fans and drivers are going to be real thrilled with what we have put together as far as the lighting needs for both the drivers, the fans, the television, both for a good show for them to see quality and also safety for the drivers. The guys have been up there, they started setting up last week. They are putting some of the final fine-tuning, so to speak, on the lights tonight and tomorrow night. We are just going to try to see how everything looks.

ADAM SAAL: Take us back to the beginning. Chris Pook had the idea of taking two of our most historic and well-known events, both The Milwaukee Mile race and the Cleveland Grand Prix, as he said, giving the lady a new set of clothes; trying a new promotional activity this year with the lighting. Again, it was over a couple months ago that we announced this. How long does it take from the engineering drawings to actually taking the trucks to the facility to do this process correctly?

JEROME FYNAARDT: Once there was some first mention of this, we started putting things on the drawing board already and getting the layouts of the track and of the airport for Cleveland where the other CART race is going to be held and start figuring out equipment needs and stuff like that.

And as we got closer to putting the thing together with CART and Chris and everybody that's involved with the whole project, we were fairly up to speed with what we were going to and what equipment we would need in the future.

ADAM SAAL: How does Milwaukee compare to other projects?

JEROME FYNAARDT: The equipment that we have is going to be used at Milwaukee is comparable to what we did in the past, like three Super Bowls would be a good comparison; that, and when we used to light Bristol [Motor Speedway] on a temporary basis, it's about - it's almost three Bristols.

The one good thing with Milwaukee is it's fairly close here to Iowa where we are based out of, and that helps a little. We have been able to go out and take a few short trips to look at the facility, and we have done one test up there.

ADAM SAAL: How are the lights transported? Are they brought in on individual units or are do you have to truck them out?

JEROME FYNAARDT: Most of the trucks of our own that we have got up there all come in on truck-mounted units, cranes, with their own generator. So it is a complete self-contained unit. Just about all of the equipment itself are all remote control fixtures, so once we put them up in the air, we could pan them left-to-right up and down and also spot and plug the units.

ADAM SAAL: How many people in total? How many units and how many people in total to make the operation run?

JEROME FYNAARDT: We have 14 of what we call our Musco lights, which is the 6,000-watt lamp units. We've got five of the temp light units which are helping to light pit row. And all together with the crew, there's about 20.

Part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chris Pook