CHAMPCAR/CART: Rice, Martinez teleconference, part 1

CHAMP CAR MEDIA TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH BUDDY RICE AND DAVID MARTINEZ ERIC MAUK: Thank you, and welcome everyone today to a Champ Car media teleconference, where we have the special opportunity to welcome two new drivers to the...

CHAMP CAR MEDIA TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH BUDDY RICE AND DAVID MARTINEZ

ERIC MAUK: Thank you, and welcome everyone today to a Champ Car media teleconference, where we have the special opportunity to welcome two new drivers to the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We have with us today a pair of drivers that will be making their Champ Car debuts at this weekend's Gran Premio Telmex Presentado por Banamex in Mexico City at the very challenging Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

We are joined today by a man that needs no introduction to many of you that have been covering The Champ Car World Series Atlantic system for a while. You will remember this young man, the 2000 Champ Car Atlantic champion and the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion. He'll be driving the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing this weekend, Buddy Rice. Thank you for joining us today.

BUDDY RICE: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: And his teammate for the Mexico City event, the driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, a young man that's driven in the past two seasons in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, David Martinez. Thank you for joining us today.

DAVID MARTINEZ: Thank you guys for having me.

ERIC MAUK: Start with Buddy. Both you guys actually got to go test the Forsythe cars down at MSR Houston last week, and it's been a while since you've been in one of these. Tell us how the test went and how it felt to be in the cockpit of a Champ Car.

BUDDY RICE: You know, it was a great test and I'm very fortunate that I was given the opportunity by Jerry Forsythe to come out here and do the season finale. You know, I think it was a big help for us to go down to Houston so I could get familiar not only with the car but with the team and kind of see how they operate.

Like I've been saying I think through a lot of my interviews and stuff, it's a little bit of a homecoming. It's nice to get back into a Champ Car, it's nice to go down and do the season finale and we'll see how things go from here. But this is an excellent opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it.

ERIC MAUK: Gotten to run a couple of road courses here in the last couple years racing in the Indy Racing League at Sears Point, St. Petersburg, Watkins Glen. Tell us what you know about the Mexico City track, what you're expecting from it.

BUDDY RICE: Well, a couple of years ago I was helping out DSTP when Joey Hand was driving so I was able to go to Mexico. I didn't get to drive but I was just helping out the team a little bit. I've kind of seen it before. I've gotten to see video of the track and stuff, and trying to get prepared.

It seems like it's kind of like a permanent road circuit but it's more like a street course because nobody really runs on it until Champ Car gets there. It's going to be a lot like a street course, a lot like at St. Pete when I drove there with the IRL, so it's going to be a constantly changing track all the way throughout the weekend, and I think the biggest change will probably come once the race happens, which a lot of these tracks have a tendency to do because they don't have much rubber on them.

It's going to be a doubly exciting time. It's a little bit of a learning curving obviously because of me not having a whole lot of knowledge with the Champ Car, but I think with the experience and the depth that Forsythe Racing has, it's going to be a good weekend.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations on the opportunity. Looking forward to seeing you down there this weekend.

BUDDY RICE: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: David, tell us a little bit about this opportunity for you. You've run two full seasons in the Atlantic Championship, you were the only driver to complete every lap of Atlantic competition this season, running with both Bite Racing and U.S. Racetronics, but now the season wraps up and you find yourself in a Champ Car. Tell us about your thoughts heading into the weekend.

DAVID MARTINEZ: It's great to finally get inside a Champ Car, something I've been working toward for a couple years. Finally after working pretty hard in Atlantic, I get a huge opportunity with Forsythe, and it's also in my hometown. I'm planning to make the most of it and have fun.

Obviously I have a really good team behind me and a very good teammate, so I'm going to have to learn pretty fast and hopefully we can do a good job without Paul this weekend.

ERIC MAUK: You've run well at the Monterrey track at Fundidora Park. You've got a couple podiums there. But tell us about your experiences with Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

DAVID MARTINEZ: The Monterrey track has been really good for me in the past. I have finished on the podium a couple times, won races with Barber Dodge Pro Series, and like I said, five years ago, I raced a couple times at the Hermanos Rodriguez track, and the last time I raced here in the Formula 3 car I won, so I'm hoping I'll find myself pretty good on this track like in the past and we can get a good result going.

ERIC MAUK: Those runs in the Formula 3 cars, did they run the old Peraltada or through the baseball stadium?

DAVID MARTINEZ: We ran through the Peraltada every time I raced. We used different configurations at some of the corners, but most of it is the same. So I'm hoping I'll have a good start.

ERIC MAUK: As we said to Buddy, congratulations on this opportunity, a big step for you, and we're looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

DAVID MARTINEZ: Thank you. I really appreciate this opportunity from Mr. Forsythe obviously. I'm in a place where a lot of guys want to be, so I'm going to try to do my best and make the most of this opportunity.

Q: This is going to be for Buddy. What are you looking for with this race? Are you under pressure knowing this may be a tryout for next season or are you just going to go kind of ease into this thing a little bit?

BUDDY RICE: Definitely have to ease into it a little bit. I've never driven at this circuit and I'm still on a little bit of a learning curve with the car and making sure I understand it.

I have enough experience. It's not going to be any more pressure. I know what I need to do from a driver's standpoint and what needs to happen. So if I just go there, I'll get on with what I need to do, and we'll see what happens from there. But definitely, obviously the first session we have to make sure we get a good grip on the track and kind of know where everything is at.

Q: Also, Buddy, or this is for both of you, have either of you guys talked to PT (Paul Tracy) over the last 24 hours since it's been announced that he won't be driving?

BUDDY RICE: I talked to Paul last weekend and I also talked to him again on Sunday and also yesterday seeing his prognosis once I found out what had happened.

Obviously he's bummed out. He wanted to go down to Mexico and go run. Obviously he's disappointed. That would have been a lot of experience for both me and David to draw off of once we got down into Mexico and what we need to do as the sessions progressed. But it still remains to be seen if he shows up down there, probably depends on how he's feeling. But it's definitely a bit of a hit to the team because we could use that experience.

Q: If you talked to him, how much did he really try to get back? In the ten days or two weeks since he hurt himself, how hard did he push to get back there?

BUDDY RICE: I think he pushed pretty hard. It sounds like he was pushing so hard in the latter part of the week that he ended up hurting himself a little bit more, and that's what really, I think, has caused him to sit the weekend out. It sounded like he was pushing pretty hard to make sure -- from I understand he was back to about between 60 and 70 percent as of Thursday of last week going into Friday before the real inflammation started happening.

I don't know enough about the break or exactly where it's at in the scapula, but any way you can look at it, Dr. Terry Trammell, who's a pretty aggressive physician and understands the mindset of race car drivers, for that guy to put his foot down and say no, it's probably gotten worse. Like I said, Paul is pretty bummed out about it.

Q: Buddy, I wanted to ask you a follow up on what you just said about this race in Mexico City maybe as a trial run for next year. Are you hoping to make the Champ Car a long-term commitment?

BUDDY RICE: Right now I basically since July when I got released I've been looking at everything. My door has been wide open to the whole thing obviously. I want to stay in open-wheel racing. That's been my whole thing. This is obviously an excellent opportunity for me to go drive a very competitive car in Champ Car, and basically that's been my whole goal is to make sure I put myself in a very competitive open-wheel car so I can go run up front. Jerry Forsythe has given me that opportunity. There's definitely a lot of things that can happen here, and everything is wide open right now. I don't have anything set in stone.

I definitely want to drive open-wheel cars, and this would be a good fit for me. We'd have to see what everybody else thinks within the team and what Jerry thinks and what they're looking at for the future, but I'm definitely excited to be doing this, and this is, like I said, a huge opportunity.

Q: If I could ask just one more quick one, I'm not sure if you want to answer this or not, but what kind of terms were you on when you left Rahal Letterman?

BUDDY RICE: I was finishing off basically the second year of a three-year deal, and so when I got released obviously in July, they basically negated my third year. I was supposed to be under contract again for next year, and that kind of evaporated.

But I think a lot of that went away because of the sponsorship issues. Bob didn't have any other sponsorship other than the Ethanol deal, and obviously I wasn't in the midst or in the middle of all that. I don't know what the situation was with that, but obviously Scott Sharp is going to Rahal with his own money. He's got the sponsorship and he's taking it there. That's kind of the situation.

Bob gave me a huge opportunity back in '04, and it's been a good thing. Times are getting a little tough right now and he was lacking sponsorship, so he allowed me to kind of go look somewhere else to make sure I could put myself in a seat.

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Paul Tracy , Buddy Rice , David Martinez