CHAMPCAR/CART: SPEED Channel Champ Car lineup press conference, Part II

Champ Car World Series An interview with The 2003 Speed Channel Broadcast Team Part 2 of 3 Mauk: Well, we all definitely look forward to it. Let's open it up to questions and see what everybody wants to talk about, about the series this ...

Champ Car World Series
An interview with The 2003 Speed Channel Broadcast Team

Part 2 of 3

Mauk: Well, we all definitely look forward to it. Let's open it up to questions and see what everybody wants to talk about, about the series this year.

Q: Jim, an offbeat question here. We see so much of this sport on television, and as you say, you've got to try and break the mold and try different things, yet at the same time you've got to show them who is leading and who is in the pack, etc. Is there one thing that you would like to do with this telecast in covering this series, covering the sport, with CART that you haven't done yet that you would like to be able to do that you have not been able to do for whatever reason?

Liberatore: Yeah, one thing we are very interested in doing is a program after the race. You see a lot with NASCAR, NASCAR gets this type of coverage, where you have a race and you have an evaluation and you talk to the drivers. For example, if you look at Inside Winston Cup which we do with Rusty Wallace, we could talk about that with Chris and [Champ Car COO] David Clare. The problem is there isn't a Charlotte where all of the drivers live, but in a perfect world, we would get drivers together who would talk about the race, go through the highlights and would be able to really break down the race. Because in this country, it is the understanding of the race and the community behind the fans or the drivers.

It's understanding the drivers, knowing the drivers and that's what makes racing work, in my opinion, in this country. When you look at an Inside Winston Cup and everyone knows Michael Waltrip and his personality and things like that, that's what makes the sport grow. We talked about a fender free TV where we would talk about open wheel and evaluate it, we were not yet at that point, and really logistics is the biggest reason to be able to do something like that.

Q: Derek, you were proud of the fact with Jim and Steve that you were going to plank the camera and get to places where you have not gone before and you mentioned that, what's in the back of your mind in a little shopping list this year, if you said there's a wreck you want to be right there tied into the driver, what's on your shopping list this year that you really want to go with a camera that no man has gone before?

Daly: There is a little difference this year because last year I was in a host role which means a free flow and almost go anywhere I chose. This year because I will have more of a pit assignment role; it will be a slight bit more limited.

However, you bring up the crash season. I discussed this with Terry many times last year about how many people do you know that have actually been brought to the crash scene and understand how violent it can be out there. Now, don't get me wrong, we are not interested in the gory details. We are interested in trying to take people to see a bit of the unknown. What I did for example, at Vancouver, when [Adrian] Fernandez had his crash, I was there pretty early. We knew that he was essentially okay; that there was nothing life threatening before we ever did a report from there. If we ever get a situation where we can even go deeper or some of the wrecked cars, we are not looking for gory, we are not looking for tabloid stuff, but we are looking to just bringing you somewhere you have not been before, and I have not seen any other television entity take you to those type of places.

So, there's no script, but we are going to try to take advantages of trying to get to the unusual places. We even discussed last year me having access to a pace car to go to the scene if we could take advantage of it, for the right reasons, for the right journalistic reasons, not for sensational reasons.

Q: Was there any temptation once this thing gets rolling and we find out all of these rookie guys indeed can race and are going to be very fast, but for all of those critics who are ready to bury the series, there would be a natural temptation, you want to be as objective as you can, but is there a temptation to say, "I told you so," how are you going too avoid that?

Daly: All of the people that said it will never survive or they will never get 18 cars, many of them will stand up and say, "I was wrong, Pook, you did a good job."

I hate the people who jump on the bandwagon, all of these followers who say, yeah, it's dead and they complain, complain, complain; and two or three years down the road they are saying we have no work, no job, no photographers have any work anymore because they helped bury the series, if that happened.

So I'd like to take a completely different approach to it and go into this thing looking to be another building block. There won't be one of CART's best ever seasons, but it's going to be a building block proving that is Chris Pook's grand plans has that is slowly unfolding, does have legs, does have teeth, and I think it's a bit of an intrigue to see where he's going to take this thing.

Liberatore: It's interesting you say that, because from a TV perspective, half the time when we started SPEED Channel with this deal I read, and there's one person I remember the quote quite well, that said the deal with SPEED Channel is a death nail for CART. It's on my personal brain bulletin board, but that was 23 million homes ago that that comment was made, and if you look at our numbers, they are in the same ballpark as everybody else, sometimes better. And it's the only way it's going to keep going in that direction is to keep- you knew when you turn on SPEED Channel you should see a better race and better production than you're going to see anywhere else because that's all we do and that's going to be the goal going forward as well.

Q: What's it going to be like shooting those night races in Milwaukee and Cleveland, Jim?

Liberatore: It's going to be- the whole prime time aspect from a television perspective, you get there and the lights are on and it's dark. If you really do it right, I do think the excitement is brought up a level. If Terry Lingner can't do that, then no one is going to. So we are pretty excited about that. We would love to talk to Champ Car down the road about having more prime time races because I think in general, the competition is lessened and it has that whole exciting atmosphere to it.

Mauk: We are now joined by Bob Varsha. He will be the lead play by play man on the broadcast this year. You have been quoted in many publications already about how excited you are to get this thing going and looking forward to the season. Tell us a little bit about that.

Bob Varsha: I'm sure I'll be reiterating what the other guys have said before me. I think everyone realizes this is a unique and critical and different year for CART. I agree with what TK said on our last broadcast last year, the biggest opportunity comes from the biggest uncertainty, and we have certainly seen that during the off season.

CART has come back and done what they said they would do in terms of getting cars out on the grid, and from what I'm hearing, in testing, unfortunately I have not been to any tests, but the cars look great, sound great and they are at least as fast as they were. I'm just really excited about the whole deal. I think it's going to be great fun. I can't wait to see the guys again and the crew, but it's just going to be great fun. I can't wait to get started.

Q: I know SPEED Channel is local and American, but can any foreign countries point into your feed or are they to get it?

Liberatore: Yeah, we are in 5 million homes in Canada. How we have been working that because they do have a feed up there in Canada, but they have not carried some of the Saturday events, and we work with them. They don't do some of the events live up there, so we work with them to try to match our schedules. So the Canadians are getting the best coverage they can. In general, we don't have the races because they have a deal up there.

Q: Terry, I want to ask about the new Ford-Cosworth engine. Do you know what the rev limit is on the new engines? And can teams change the gear ratio for various races?

Lingner: Yeah, I believe they are able to change gear ratios. I do not know the rev limit. Cal, do you know?

Fish: Yes, about 12,000 which is about 4,000 less than the guys were running last year, but it's got 41 inches which of boost, which is up. So through the mid range, we understand that the engine actually has about 100 horsepower more but will struggle more at the top routes and lower routes.

As Bob said before, the times have been very fast and the fact of the matter is these engines will run 1,200 miles, and certainly the engine budget has been reduced by probably about 60 to 70 percent over what the teams have spent in the past few years, which is going to have an enormous effect.

Lingner: Apparently the change in revs means the power comes in several thousand revs lower than it used to so they accelerate very well at the top end. I think that's going to be evident on street circuits, such at St. Pete this weekend and anywhere you have tight corners. Bear in mind they won't have traction control, so we are going to see sawing away of the steering wheel and a lot of rear ends stepping out, so it will be exciting.

Q: So will engines be rebuilt each race?

Daly: Basically they cut the engine bill by a third and they last three times as long. That sounds like a great formula. How come they never saw that?

Varsha: If you want to test cars in Formula 1, what we need to do is a common chassis, common engine and away we go.

Daly: But don't they already have a common engine and chassis? (Laughter).

Part III

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Chris Pook , David Clare
Tags TV