CHAMPCAR/CART: Paul Tracy press conference, Part II

CART media teleconference presented by Worldcom June 4, 2002 An Interview with Paul Tracy. Part 2 of 2: Tracy on Laguna and The Appeal Q: What kind of challenge does Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca present this weekend? Paul Tracy: I think...

CART media teleconference presented by Worldcom
June 4, 2002

An Interview with Paul Tracy.

Part 2 of 2: Tracy on Laguna and The Appeal

Q: What kind of challenge does Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca present this weekend?

Paul Tracy: I think the biggest challenge for me is that I haven't driven the Lola on a road course yet, so that's going to be very new to me. I have had good success on the ovals so far, but haven't actually gotten out on a road course and turned the car right yet. So it's going to be a bit of an adjustment. I feel good about coming to Laguna. I have been faster throughout my career and had good results and have been able to win a couple of times, so I am looking forward to it. But we have definitely got our work cut out for us.

Q: Could you describe what is it like driving through that corkscrew?

Paul Tracy: Well, it's pretty exhilarating. You come up to the top of the hill, can't really see anything, and then you turn down. It is just like jumping into an elevator shoot, so, you come down that hill left, right, left, and you know, just a couple of seconds and you drop about a couple of hundred feet in elevation, which is pretty exciting.

Q:  You talked about fitness being part of your turnaround this season.  Did
you drop weight?  What are you talking about there?

Paul Tracy: I have done a lot of work over the winter. I have always been a bigger guy. From my weight that I was last year, I dropped about 35 pounds since last season, so I think it has been a big help so far this year. I feel good in the car and I feel invigorated, I think it's showing in my driving.

Q: Lastly, what do you think the chances are of you winning this appeal?

Paul Tracy: I think it's good. I don't know what the end result will be, but I know in my heart that we won the race and I know that's how Barry feels and I know the kind of person that Barry is. He won't stick his neck out on the line and push this as far as he's pushed it if he wasn't 100% sure that we won the race. So I'm basically leaving it up to him and his team of people that are doing this whole thing and he wants me to just continue to concentrate on my driving and working with the team and get some more good results.

Q: Do you have a quart of milk sitting in your refrigerator just in case?

Paul Tracy: No (laughs).

Q: The big question is you miss out on all of that no matter what- the post-race stuff. Barry said yesterday that if this doesn't come down the way he would like it, knowing what he knows, he would feel cheated. I am just wondering what is your feeling about that right now? Are you putting yourself in the future? Are you preparing for good news, bad news- how are you playing that game?

Paul Tracy: All I can say is I know that I won that race. The only thing that I can't say is that I wished the decision would have come down right after the race, but it hasn't. It's going to take a long time. It kind of just leaves you sitting on ice wondering what will happen. But I guess the only thing that I can do is concentrate on my job and not let that bother me too much and that's really what I have to do and if it comes down and the question gets turned around, then we know that the right outcome will come out of it. If not, then I guess we just move on and try to do it again.

Q: Real quick, just a point of fact, I am understanding you had the yellow light in your cockpit just like Helio and everyone else. Do you remember specifically seeing the light come on?

Paul Tracy: No.

Q: Do you remember noticing it on?

Paul Tracy: No. No yellow light was on in my cockpit until the track lights came on.

Q: Obviously you are fired up because you are coming off, in your mind, two straight wins here, but is there a different feel with you and your team you right now than maybe two, three years ago, even though you are switching chassis and this is going to be a tremendous adjustment over the next two months?

Paul Tracy: I don't know. But I know that the last year that I have had, I have had such bad luck and so many opportunities that things just didn't go right. We were always wondering when is the bad luck going to turn to good luck and I think it's starting now. Hopefully we can continue our momentum and continue working hard. The whole key is working hard and doing a good job. I will be the first to admit, when things get frustrating sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated and stay positive. You have to work through the bad times and get to the good times. I think that's what really everybody on the team has done. Last year for most of the year it was just a struggle after struggle with, you know, problems and everybody's still kept their motivation. I think that now I hope that we have had two great races in a row and I hope we can continue our momentum.

Q: I am just a little curious about something you said earlier. You said you were very confident in your appeal but then you also talked about the acrimony between the two series. Don't you think that you being a CART guy and the winner they announced being an IRL guy is going to automatically (inaudible) the appeal?

Paul Tracy: I hope there's going to be a panel of judges from what I understand on this that are unbiased. I hope that the right outcome will come out and it's not slanted. Regardless of what people say, there's a wedge between CART and IRL and there's politics involved in everything. I just hope it doesn't come down to that.

Q: Congratulations on the win first of all, and secondly I am listening to your comments and it's very impressive there was a time when your championship skills were undermined a bit by your emotions in the cockpit, at least it seemed from the outside. Congratulations on getting that turned around and focused on going after a championship now.

Paul Tracy: Well, thank you. Like I said before, when things aren't going right or I am having a hard time my personality is to try harder. Sometimes trying harder can compound the problem or even worse. You have almost got to step back and kind of look at it and reanalyze it and try to go about it a different way.

I think that's what everybody on the whole team has done, my engineer and my mechanics, everybody was trying so hard last year to win and no matter what we did when we were in a good position to win, we would have a bad pit stop. We would have something go wrong with the car. I would make a mistake, or you know, so it is just one of those years when everybody was just trying so hard to win because we were capable of winning, but we would almost jinx ourselves.

Q: Do you ever get tired of jerks like me in the media coming to you talking to you about this IRL-CART split and problems with CART? Does that take away from your ability to concentrate at the racetrack?

Paul Tracy: Not really because I am a guy who has been committed to CART my whole career and I still am committed to CART. The roses are not smelling so great now, but I am confident in what Chris Pook is doing. I am confident that we are heading in the right direction and we have got good tracks and good venues that we are going to and we still have great sponsors in the series and great drivers and we have a great product. So I am confident that we can still continue to forge ahead.

Q: Do you think it's the best business model for CART to forge ahead and not worry about what the IRL is doing?

Paul Tracy: I think I have always said that's the best thing for them to because I don't feel that Tony George has any ambition to merge with CART. He wants the whole thing to himself and that's the only way it's going to be. The only thing that CART can do is just go about its own business.

Q: There was a comment in a newspaper article late last week that mentions you and stock cars. I can't tell from newsprint if that was an offhand remark. Was that something you tossed out there or something that you are legitimately interested in?

Paul Tracy: No, it's something that I am genuinely interested in. At this stage of my career, I mean, I am 33 years old now. Obviously open-wheel racing doesn't go on forever, you know, when you start getting towards 38, it's about the end of the road. I know that there's only a limited amount of shelf time left and I have had conversations with Richard [Childress] about a possible involvement in the future and he actually contacted me after [Dale] Earnhardt had been killed at Daytona and expressed some interest in what I was doing. So that was a tremendous compliment to me. And we have kind of kept an open book about what the future is and you know, maybe some day down the road if my plans lead me towards that direction then we can get together on something.

Q: Have you ever tested a stock car of any type?

Paul Tracy: No, never driven anything with fenders on it as of yet.

Q: Well, it would be interesting to see you in a stock car. Good luck this weekend.

Paul Tracy: Thank you.

Q: If an appeal does come down and you are successful, in your mind does that tarnish the whole thing at all or is it more getting the right decision regardless of how long it takes?

Paul Tracy: I'll tell you what. In my garage, I have got some polish and I will take a tarnish cloth (laughter) because I feel that we won the race and the most important thing is when you see all the faces on that trophy if you are one of them- then it's something special.

All the interviews and all you know, going on TV shows and radio interviews and that kind of thing, I can take it or leave it. But it's the trophy that matters the most.

Q: Lets face it that's the one trophy that you know, that CART drivers aspire to throughout.

Paul Tracy: Yes. Any racing driver, no matter if you drive CART or Formula One, anybody from around the world, if you have won the Indianapolis 500 then you have really done something.

Merrill Cain: We appreciate you spending some time with us this afternoon. We know it's been hectic time for you. Congratulations on your performance this weekend and also wish you the best of luck heading into Round 5 of the CART FedEx Championship Series at Monterey, California. Thanks for joining us today.


Tracy on Milwaukee win and Indy 500 Part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Chris Pook , Tony George