September 4, 2001 An Interview With: ROBERTO MORENO T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everyone and welcome to the Cart Media Teleconference. Our guest this afternoon is driver Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing, who drove to his second career...
September 4, 2001
An Interview With: ROBERTO MORENO
T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everyone and welcome to the Cart Media Teleconference.
Our guest this afternoon is driver Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing, who drove to his second career FedEx Championship Series Victory at Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver.
Good afternoon, Roberto, and thanks for joining us today.
ROBERTO MORENO: My pleasure to be here. Good afternoon.
T.E. McHALE: Roberto, the driver of the No. 20 Visteon Toyota Reynard, became the ninth different race winner in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season when he finished 4.687 seconds ahead of runner-up and defending FedEx Championship Series Champion, Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske, Sunday afternoon.
It was Roberto's third podium performance of the season, including finishes of third at Detroit and second in Portland. Roberto finished third in the FedEx 2000 FedEx Series championship has been one of this season's most consistent performers. He has scored championship points in eight of his past nine starts and in 11 of 14 starts overall this season.
In his two years with Patrick Racing, Roberto has scored championship points in an impressive 25 of 34 starts. He also stands second in the FedEx Championship Series in laps completed, with 1,789 of a possible 1,855, and in miles completed with 2,918.820 of a possible 3,052.212. Sunday's victory moved him from tenth to eighth in the FedEx Championship Series championship with 74 points.
As the FedEx Championship Series makes its first ever trip to Europe for the next two rounds, the German 500 at EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany and the Rockingham 500 at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Rockingham, England; it should be noted that Roberto has substantial experience racing in Europe, most prominently during six seasons of Formula 1 competition from 1987 through 1992. He also has experienced in European Formula 3000, European Formula 2 and French touring car competition.
We hope you'll join us for breakfast a la CART on Saturday, September 15th when the German 500, Round 16 of the FedEx Championship Series will be televised live on ESPN, beginning at 7:30 am Eastern time.
When do you plan to make it two in a row?
ROBERTO MORENO: We have a plan -- of course, if you look at performance of the Patrick/Visteon Team lately, we have everything that takes to win more races now. The team is in a good momentum from Detroit, we started to have good results, good packages. We had been handicapped by having to qualify on the slow sessions, and the one time that was on a quick session in Cleveland, it worked out the wrong way for us. And that should help a lot, because we just came out of the slow qualifying, and that would be for the street and road courses, of course.
And I think -- if you look the momentum of the Patrick/Visteon Team from Detroit to now, although we had only three podiums, we always have very competitive, but I had to start from the back and fight my way through. If I had started up front on the first few rows, things are -- I'm sure, results would have been much better.
But nevertheless, it's been quite good, because it has put us up to eighth on the championship and giving us a chance to now fight to win more races. I think we have all the means that we could win a couple of races on the road; I don't know when. I could not tell that you for sure. But certainly, we are competitive enough to fight to win races now.
One thing that's very special about you is you don't give up so easily. Where do you find the strength, from looking for work to not giving up in the least, battling back to the lead with Gil de Ferran; you had three passes, I think, you passed him three times?
ROBERTO MORENO: What do you mean, "looking for work"?
A couple years back -- you didn't like the name "Super sub" I was trying not to use that word.
ROBERTO MORENO: That's okay. "Super sub" is a name that gave me recognition in the USA. It's something that I should be proud to have. It's just that we went from "Super sub" to be championship contenders; so it was about time "Super sub" retired, that's all.
Where do you find the strength not to give up? You just keep plugging away, no matter what happens. You've got your smile on and you grit your teeth and you stay in the game. Where do you find the strength?
ROBERTO MORENO: I have great family. I have a great life within my other life, which is my family life and I do what I love in life. As long as my family are healthy and they are taking care, which my wife does a great job on that, I can go up to the house and just work in what I love most in life other than my family, is racing. I do things, from the inside out, give my soul to racing, and it's everything natural. I'm not there to show up -- to show off, I mean. I'm not there to just be successful. I'm there to be successful with something -- working something that I love to do.
I started to -- racing, not by, because I planned, because it happened. I was a motorcycle mechanic. The guy that teach me was Nelson Piquet. I saw him from go carts all the way up to Formula 1. I followed him, I helped him changing tires, I helped him fill his car. I slept in his racing cart in '74 back in Brazil, inside of his racing cart, because all of the places were taken around the benches. So I just loved this.
It's like if you go to the park and have fun. It's like when my kids go to Disneyland; they love being there. They do things with excitement and with enjoyment, and that's me in racing. Okay, you have to -- a race is not as easy as that, but I've been able to, know, it's a lot of business into that. But once you've got your contract done, your team is a team that's working well and you always have competitive car, you can enjoy it, you know. And whatever it takes for me, as long as I'm driving, as long as I'm doing something to overcome challenging -- some of the challenges that we have in racing, that's what moves me; that's what gives me the kick to go to the next one. I'm just a guy enjoying -- I know I'm only one of the few ones in a the world that enjoys his work and really loves what he does.
It's kind of interesting, with your perspective on having driven a lot of different racing machines there, and your series going over to Europe, for the folks who might come over to the rink in Germany, what will they see when your champ cars take the track there?
ROBERTO MORENO: For the fans, you mean?
Exactly. Let's say the fans are not familiar with your style of racing. What would you tell them?
ROBERTO MORENO: I think they are going to see one of the most competitive races in the world. And they are going to be able to see a different perspective racing this -- yellow flag that is people have to slow down doesn't actually spoil races, but actually makes it better, even, because you are starting another race all over again.
So they will have -- something that will be very different for them is that normally they only see one start in the race; they will see many restarts maybe. Now if you have a little problem with something and they need to go and clean up or you have a small accident or something, you get in the yellow flag, you get another race again. They will have a chance to see many restarts. Hopefully, they won't see too many, and they will see something that's so competitive that there's nothing to -- at the same level in Europe, in my opinion. They are going to see a serious -- that drivers are very open to their fans. They access -- the fans will have access, in a way that's never seen in Europe, in my opinion. Drivers like to get involved with their sponsors. The drivers that do enjoy what they do, they have a good relationship between each other. That kind of thing, that it's very different.
Plus, the way they will see the race, it's going to be so competitive, and there will be -- there will be, how can I say this -- but oval racing is so exciting to watch because you see the whole race from the seats on the stands.
One other thing, you guys play to a -- what by all reports was a very good crowd at Vancouver, and some of your venues in the States here you haven't been plagued too much with that. Do you guys get cranked up the more people that come to watch you?
ROBERTO MORENO: I tell you, the atmosphere in Vancouver was fantastic. Now, winning the race there -- really, you could see they really got involved in it.
After the face, Kevin O'Donnell (ph) was driving the golf CART to the press room. It was amazing the people cheering and how the people were excited about being there in that race. So this is fantastic.
I think we see that in many other places, also. I think CART is, you know, trying to get the venues that really bring a lot of people to the races in the future, fans that really enjoy coming to CART races.
I get a really good kick out of it, because there are people there that want to see us racing; that want to see us do what we do best, and it's just fantastic. You know, it's the same thing, a lot of people show up -- like when I race in Brasilia, always it's a lot of people come to watch, but a lot of people that really knows what you do, and they know your background. They know everything about you. And they are real fans and they cheer you on; they want Brazil to win and it's just so fantastic, this feeling that we get from the fans that really cheer for us.
Congratulations on an awesome win.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thank you. It was a team effort from Patrick/Visteon Racing and it came together that way.
That was an awesome pass there towards the end on Mr. De Ferran. It looks like he tried hard, but he could not keep you out?
ROBERTO MORENO: This is one of the things that when you have a good car, you can do, and I knew I had everything right, and I just had to stay out of trouble to the last stint, and that's what I tried to do. Unfortunately, I lost that position in one of the restarts when Mauricio Gugelmin was trying to -- did not make a pit stop and had low tires and low fuel; was struggling to get grip out of the corner. I got on the wrong side of him because otherwise I would hit the back of him, and Gil took advantage of that, making me lose my advantage of being in front of him.
I focus a little bit. I knew I had a good car. So I waited until the tires got a little warmer and I start pushing harder and putting pressure on him, and it was inevitable. He came out of the corner into the straight with a bit too much power and got sideways and I got a run on him and no way I was going to let it go because my car was -- we were frying that day. I had waited and saved everything that I had in my tires for the end, and it paid off. The pass on that one was the one that was not shown on TV, the first one.
Well, as a fan that was exciting to watch. And speaking of fans, I'd like to say I was a big fan of Nelson Piguet myself growing up watching some of the Formula 1 stuff at the Long Beach Grand Prix. And with six seasons of Formula 1 under your belt, now that you are going pack to Europe coming up into in a couple of weeks, what do you look forward to? What do you look forward to going over there? 0 ROBERTO MORENO: Europe is -- I lived in Europe, I believe, around 16 years. I lived in England seven years. My career started in England. I was the first driver to leave Brazil to race cars in Europe, which was England at the time, without having race cars in Brazil. I went from go carts direct to cars in England.
So I have a big history there. I have lots of friends in England. I'm really dying to go there and be able to race there again, because it's so fantastic to see that we are becoming more international and we are traveling to places where, you know, we used to be in the past.
What I'm looking forward to is put our heads down and have a good successful couple of races down there so we can build up some points for the championship, and be able to see my friends over there.
As a driver, what do you think is the biggest difference between Formula 1 and the CART series?
ROBERTO MORENO: I can only have a little guess today, but a few years ago -- and I think it still stands, the biggest difference is Formula 1, they put as much money as necessary behind, and they just develop technology. Technology is the name of the game. To a point, it becomes so boring sometimes, because only so many -- so many teams can have access to the latest technology because not every team can spend the money the top couple of teams do. So it's about technology.
For example, in Formula 1, you must build -- design and build your own car. In CART, you can buy a car from a manufacturer. In Formula 1, if you hire the best engineers, the best project designers, and they do a lot of research for you and they find something new and better. The other team who take at least two or three races to catch up until they see the trick and they will copy it. In CART, you buy the same equipment off the guy that won the last race if you want. You have access to things.
The categories built around making it equal to everybody and making it a good level between teams. And they also try to keep -- we still have the latest technology, but we don't have to develop it. We get the latest that has already been developed. They are not secrets anymore in Formula 1.
And sometimes, they do a better job here than they have done there. I give you a typical example. The agents, the reps we are getting now here, with normal springs on their valves was only in Formula 1 when they went to the hydraulic car, automatic valve spring. So it's not to say that it's behind, Formula 1, but what we do here is we create a category that every team can have the same level of equipment. So that's why it's so competitive today. A couple teams -- two-tenths of a second, gives me maybe seven positions on the grid or maybe even more than that sometimes.
That definitely makes it a lot more exciting for the fans, doesn't it?
ROBERTO MORENO: I could give you more technical -- would you like to know a bit more technical?
Sure. I'm sure we all would.
ROBERTO MORENO: We run turbos here; there's no aspirator here. The tires here are complete flat which has more grip, over there they have the groove tires that take the grip away. That's the way they found to slow the cars down and the cars become extremely difficult to drive. So they have with that technology -- and they have a tire that has no grip to put the power down on the ground.
So it's -- what else do they have -- the car is a little lighter, so they accelerate a little quicker than us, in my opinion. I don't know to what extent, but our cars achieve higher speeds and have more grip on the ground because of the tires.
It's better when you are going faster --
ROBERTO MORENO: Yes.
Keeping more control on the vehicle. Do they give you any free Molson Ale? Did you get free beer at the race this weekend in Vancouver?
ROBERTO MORENO: Yeah, I don't jinx -- I didn't chase that. I made enough money winning that I can buy my own case.
Going to a new Super Speedway, how do you approach that, particularly one that is not same that you may not have been on before?
ROBERTO MORENO: It's not a Super Speedway over there. It's more like a medium oval to a shorter oval.
It's going to be the same to everybody. People are going to come -- different teams will try to come up with a setup from another circuit that we have test that had simulates closest to that one. Once we start driving, the circuit will be very slippery.
The more we driving it, the more grip we are going to have, the setup is going to have to change. And oval racing is all about setting up the car. So the engineers will have to work very, very hard to get good cars there. And whoever can anticipate the changes throughout the weekend better than the other team will come out of there a winner.
Have you and Patrick had any talks about next year yet or are you just letting that sit on hold for a moment?
ROBERTO MORENO: As far as I know, it's all up to Patrick. I love his team. I think his team has great momentum now. If we -- if Patrick gives continuity to the team, the success is just going to grow and grow.
I think we have a good group working very well together that has taken some time to get to that, and the more you keep it the same, the better the team will be next year. And I very much like to continue with that Patrick, but I can't say too much at the moment to you.
I'm checking to see how it's going to feel to go back to Europe where you started?
ROBERTO MORENO: I don't know, to be honest with you, but I'm looking forward to going back. For the past couple of years, I've been trying to go back to Europe and see my friends, see things I do there. I still have some things that -- some business I've done in the past that -- some investments I've done there, still making money for me. I have lots of friends. I miss Europe a lot. I miss a lot of the things I've done there in the past, and so I look forward to seeing some of that, and I look forward to racing in front of the European fans that for many years supported me. I have many, many fans in Europe.
I just wanted to ask where you are speaking from?
ROBERTO MORENO: From my home in Weston, Florida.
It seems as though you came on board and won at about the time Michael Schumacher came on board. Can you comment on him and about whether you think his brilliance will translate well into CART -- the brilliance of his driving would fit well into CART?
ROBERTO MORENO: Oh, I think a guy with a talent like a Michael Shumacher (ph) would drive in a tractor very well. He's excellent, that guy. He studies everything to the -- he gets the most of everything. So keeping the same -- from driving the many race cars that he drives to making sure that whatever he drives will have the same, gross engineering package.
If you look careful, he has taken with him the designers and the key people that were working with him at Benetton where he was successful. He still has those same people working with him. He's just -- he just does everything right, basically.
Do you have any anecdotes about racing against him when you were in Europe?
ROBERTO MORENO: Well, I never really raced against him. He actually took my place. He kicked me out of Formula 1 and it was one of those things that every press in the whole world was in my favor because the guy came, he wanted to drive before the end of the season, and he didn't care what it would take; if it was to kick somebody out, whatever it did, and he did that. He pushed very hard and he eventually got my seat where I was driving before the season finished. It never ended up in court, but we settle it now and he started to drive for Benetton that year.
T.E. McHALE: We'll wrap it up for the afternoon. We want to thank Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing for joining us this afternoon.
Thank you very much, Roberto. Best of luck in the German 500 and through the rest of the FedEx Championship Series season.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thank you very much for everything.
T.E. McHALE: Thanks to all of you who joined us this afternoon. Have a good day.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thank you.