An interview with Patrick Carpentier Part 2 of 2 Q: Does all this contract talk take some shine off that victory for you at all, is it irritating? Patrick Carpentier: No. It doesn't matter. I think it's part of the business. I think it's part...
An interview with Patrick Carpentier
Part 2 of 2
Q: Does all this contract talk take some shine off that victory for you at all, is it irritating?
Patrick Carpentier: No. It doesn't matter. I think it's part of the business. I think it's part of anything you do. Especially because auto racing contracts are renewed every year or every two years. It doesn't matter to me actually. At the moment, I'm pretty happy of the job that Team Player's did this weekend and what we did. I enjoy working with the people that are directly involved with me on my team. We'll just finish the season and see how it goes.
For me, this victory was more of a personal victory, and I'm just really happy. I just drive for myself and drive to win, and for the team. It doesn't matter to me. I think it's part of the business.
Q: Do you think your win has sort of given you some leverage with your talks with other teams and with Player's?
Patrick Carpentier: Maybe it has, maybe it hasn't. I don't know. I just know that every race I fight pretty hard and I try very hard to win. Since I've been with Team Player's, they kind of brought me up into the world of auto racing. I had a lot of stuff to learn.
I'd say at first I was a bit, not naive, but I didn't know a lot of things and I didn't know how hard you had to work to be at the front in that series. That series is so competitive. I think 3/10ths of a second was six or seven positions this weekend, or eight positions. It's extremely tough, especially on a road course where you don't normally see that.
I've just learned so much with that team and I'm very thankful for what they did. I feel at the moment we're pretty close to being ready to challenge for the championship. So we'll see what's going to happen.
Q: In general, what do you think the future holds for you?
Patrick Carpentier: I think I'm going to be racing. I want to be racing for the next six, eight years. I think I'm going to do that. I've had a lot of success on some tracks, and I think that's what it's going to be. I just really enjoy racing. But I cannot tell you where I'm going to be or what I'm going to do exactly at the moment.
Q: Do you think you're going to sign later on in the season?
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, for sure. It might not be that late in the season, though. I think it will be pretty soon.
Q: I know over the years while you remained even keel, when you achieve a personal goal such as last week you tend to really psych yourself up. When you crossed that finish line Sunday, what was going on with Patrick Carpentier?
Patrick Carpentier: Just happiness. Last year I'd say I needed the win to get some relief. This year I wanted to win for, one, for permanent satisfaction; and, two, for the guys. Some of my best friends are the team mechanics and the guys I have on my team. They work so hard all the time. Since the beginning of the year, they've been giving me really fast pit stops. They did that again this weekend. For the first time, we can give them a car and the tools and a smooth weekend to go with the work they've been doing. So with a fast car, a good strategy, we backed up their fast pit stops and finally won a race on a road course.
Actually, that's what I was most happy about for the guys.
Q: Is personal satisfaction what motivates you when you're working with the guys?
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, for sure. For me it seems like the bigger challenge, the more I come out and perform. If there's more demand and more stress, I need to perform. I remember in Formula Atlantic, we had a race where I finished in the top three and we didn't have the money to continue racing. We ended up finishing in third place in that race and moved ahead.
Sometimes I just like to go against the odds and prove we can always do it. For me that was good satisfaction.
Q: I find it interesting in listening to the other questions, in your mind are we in the media making more out of these contract talks than what you see as a personal thing? It's almost like we're looking for a ghost and you're just trying to do your business.
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah. Sometimes I think we started talking about it in the newspaper a little bit, and I think it's our mistake a little bit. It just goes on and on and on, and then that becomes the main subject.
Like you said, that's what's happening every year. That's what's happening with more than half the field in CART or whatever series you have. The guys have to renegotiate. The teams these days seem to go more with maybe one- or two-year contracts instead of a long-term contract. Everybody has to go through the same thing. The team has to look at things. You look at Team KOOL Green, they're going through the same thing at the moment, a lot of stuff. I think it's just part of the business and normal. I think it just gets out of hand.
Sometimes it's a bit sad because things get said. Like if I would have said I don't want to see Player's, I'm mad at Player's, this and that, and it's not really what I say, it's not what I'm thinking. I'm going to have lunch with the guys. We had fun after the race. We didn't even talk about that. I know they have a lot of stuff they need to look at, and we'll just see what happens.
I also think it's a business choice. If they pick me up, it's because business-wise, and for marketability, it works for them. If they don't, then it doesn't work for them. Maybe it works for some other thing. Sometimes it's just a business deal and nothing personal.
Q: I remember three or four years ago you were talking about music. You said you really like to work out and play your drums with Elvis music. Do you still do that?
Patrick Carpentier: Actually, I do (laughter). It's funny, because that's what I told my wife, because I'm in Canada now. My house is in Las Vegas. But I said, "Oh, man, I miss the music studio. We should find a place where we can do some karaoke and stuff like that." Yeah, I really love that. I still do that.
Q: (Question and answer in French.)
Merrill Cain: Could you give us an overview for those who don't speak French.
Patrick Carpentier: He asked when did I know when I was going to win the race. I said it was not until I crossed the start/finish. He said, you gave a sign for the last pit stop to your crew, what was that all about? I said, just like thank you and saying things were looking good because they had a very fast pit stop on the last one. That's what I did. After that, it was pretty much it. We talked about the race basically.
Q: Part of your possibility in looking at your future, you mentioned the word NASCAR in there. I know some NASCAR discussions have been going on with Paul Tracy. It's discussion, it doesn't take much to pick up a phone and talk. I was trying to remember how much stock car racing experience you might have and how much Paul might have. Is that a realistic avenue for you to explore?
Patrick Carpentier: I think it might be in the future, but at the moment I don't think the discussion on that side is really extremely serious. If it would become reality, I would be very happy about it and see where it would take us.
But not at the moment. I don't have a lot of experience in closed-wheel cars. I tried a few in Canada, but that's basically it. We'll see what's going to happen. At the moment I think I'm going to stick more to open-wheel racing.
Q: [Teammate Alex] Tag [Tagliani] is still trying to ascertain and grab that first CART win. He has come unbelievably close. You went through quite a long time before you grabbed your first CART win. Has he talked to you about how you get around this period where it's got to be so difficult knowing you have the team and the equipment and talent to win, but you haven't yet? It must weigh heavy on his mind. Has he talked to you about it?
Patrick Carpentier: No. Actually, we don't talk about that. Once we're on the track we kind of do our own thing when it concerns racing. We're really good friends outside the racetrack. On the track we always try to beat one another and get victories for ourselves and for the team and everything. But no, actually we haven't talked about that.
Q: With tobacco sponsorship in Canada being against the law as of October 2003, does that have any effect on the speed or lack of speed, urgency to get your deal done with Player's? Do you think that's working on their side of what they may want to do?
Patrick Carpentier: I don't know exactly. Sometimes I hear that they might be able to keep going, sometimes they might not. I don't know what's going to happen on that side.
No, we'll see what it is. I think we're going to start talking with them most likely fairly soon. We're going to talk to different people, too. We'll see what it is.
But I don't think it changes things very much for them next year. I think they're going to keep doing what they are doing now and try to win a lot of races. I know they really want to have a championship before they run out of racing. They deserve it. Man, they put a lot of money into it to try to make this thing work. That was good for them this weekend. Hopefully they can have a championship.
Q: In years past you haven't always seemed to be relaxed at this time of the season. You seem more relaxed this time. Is the pressure less from the team and from the Canadian fans than you've had in the past or does the win really help?
Patrick Carpentier: The win helped. I think the pressure is more. The weekend in Toronto was so difficult. I think that was one of the toughest weekends for me and the team, everybody actually. Nothing seems to be going our way. I know it's really important for them because it was in Canada.
Then we came to Cleveland, and I never thought we'd come out of it by winning that race. Every practice, every session went really well. No mistakes were made. Ford-Cosworth put out a good engine. My engineer gave me good changes all the time. It was just almost a perfect weekend, and that's what we needed to pump up the guys.
This year I'm more detached from it than I was in the past. In the past I wanted it so much. Sometimes it seems like the more you want something, the further away it gets from you or from your grasp. Sometimes when you just stop wanting it, boom, it finally happens.
After Toronto, I just said, "Whatever happens is going to happen. If it does, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't." I just keep working extremely hard and try to find any way I can to make it happen.
Q: Heading off to Vancouver, do you think some of that pressure is going to return because you're back in Canada or can you maintain this relaxed but beneficial attitude?
Patrick Carpentier: It's tough. Sometimes it's tough to maintain. I think we all have a tendency to get really involved in it and just go to the same pattern again. But I'm going to work hard to maintain that for sure. I think it takes a bit of pressure away from me to have that victory before going into Vancouver.
Q: Last year you and Tag were pretty strong in Vancouver. How much of that setup and tactics can you bring into this year?
Patrick Carpentier: Oh, it's different. This year with the traction control, a lot of stuff has changed. It's very different. A lot of things we tried last year have not worked pretty much everywhere we went to. No, it's going to be different.
We just need a smooth weekend, no problems, so we can set the car up and find our way to the top like we did at Cleveland. Tag had a fantastic weekend. I think he should have won that race last year. Unfortunately, he ran into some problems.
But hopefully this year we'll get a little bit better luck. Maybe we don't have to qualify as well, but if we finish and get a bit better luck, we can win the thing.
Q: Looking about a month down the road, CART is heading for the first time into Montreal. You're one of the few drivers in the series that does have knowledge of that track. Talk about how you feel going in there. The fans there are going to go nuts when CART arrives.
Patrick Carpentier: I think they're going to love it. I'm so happy that they're going to have the opportunity to see that series and these cars. I think it's a great show. It's kind of a festival every time. Like the [Molson] Toronto Indy, we got so many activities and promotions, they [fans] changed tires, did pit stops, so many things, the whole week leading into the race. I think they're going to enjoy that. It's different.
They're going to be able to look at the cars, the transporters, be close to us, walk through the pits, things like that, which they haven't seen for the last 10 years in Formula 1. I think there's a good side to it. It's going to be great.
For us it's a bit more pressure. We want to do well because it's hometown. We'd like to win that race. If everything goes well in the weekend, I think it's going to be a fantastic weekend. And to be at the front there would be great.
Q: I was looking at the transcript of the post race press conference. You made a quip to something Paul said, saying you and Paul were going to form your own team. You could always call it Team Cool. Have you had any serious thoughts on that?
Patrick Carpentier: No. It's funny because everybody kept talking about the contract and the things. Paul is in the same situation as I am. At the end I said, "Oh, let's just start a rumor, me and Paul are starting a team together for next year." That's how it started.
Merrill Cain: We appreciate you joining us today, Pat, on today's CART media teleconference. We know you're going to take a few days off before heading to Vancouver. Enjoy your few days and thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to us.
Patrick Carpentier: Thanks, guys.
Merrill Cain: A quick reminder the next CART FedEx Championship Series event will take place the weekend of June 26th through the 28th at the Molson Indy Vancouver. The Champ Cars taking a much needed break before heading back into action that weekend in Vancouver. Thanks to all who participated in today's call and have a very pleasant afternoon.
Patrick Carpentier press conference, part I