CHAMPCAR/CART: This Week in Ford Racing, Herta interview 2001-10-09

This Week in Ford Racing October 9, 2001 Celebrating 100 Years of Ford Racing One hundred years ago this week - Oct. 10, 1901 - Henry Ford defeated noted automobile racer Alexander Winton in the race that changed the world. Ford's victory...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 9, 2001

Celebrating 100 Years of Ford Racing

One hundred years ago this week - Oct. 10, 1901 - Henry Ford defeated noted automobile racer Alexander Winton in the race that changed the world.

Ford's victory was truly an upset. He had never raced before and, other than in straight line speed record attempts, he never raced after. His car - nicknamed "Sweepstakes" - was seriously outpowered, producing 26 horsepower when his opponent's "Bullet" produced 70. But Ford believed that an efficient, lightweight vehicle could outperform bigger cars, and he proved it that day in front of 8,000 spectators on a one-mile dirt oval in Grosse Pointe, Mich.

Winton led seven of the first 10 laps before his car began to sputter and smoke. Ford, who had trailed at one point by as much as a fifth of a mile, took the lead in front of the packed grandstand and went on to win with an average speed of 45 miles per hour.

His prizes? Ford won a cut-glass punch bowl, $1000 in cash, and credibility. As a result, Ford's ideas won some much-needed traction in the automobile industry of the day, and investors came forth willing to help the young engineer into business. Ford Motor Company was founded just 20 months later, and the Model T, the car that would put the world on wheels, soon followed.

It was, indeed, the race that changed the world.

CART FedEx Championship Series

Forsythe Racing driver Bryan Herta loves Laguna Seca. And why shouldn't he? Both Herta's career victories have come at the track ('98 and '99), and he has captured the pole three of last four years ('97,'98, and '99) at the picturesque permanent road course. After a year off in 2000, which saw him called to action in spot duty for three teams, he has a renewed focus, a full-time ride and looks to make his mark on the 2001 FedEx Championship Series this weekend at Laguna Seca.

IF THERE'S ONE DRIVER OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST FIVE YEARS THAT HAS BEEN SYNONYMOUS WITH LAGUNA SECA, IT'S YOU. CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE ANOTHER PERFORMANCE LIKE YOU'VE PUT ON OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS?
"I hope so. I am looking forward to it for sure. We have struggled a little with consistency this year so I'm hoping that won't be the case this year. We are going to go there with the same setup we ran last year when I was filling in (for Patrick Carpentier) driving the Player's car."

WHAT MAKES YOU SO QUICK AT LAGUNA?
"Well, I have a good idea where I am making up time around the circuit. If I do have a secret there I'd probably be smart to keep it a secret. In general, it just lends itself well to my driving style and frankly, you can't underestimate the value in having a good car. The last few times I've run there, I have had some good equipment and have had the benefit of having a good setup. That always helps a lot."

YOU HAVE HAD AN UP-AND-DOWN YEAR THIS SEASON. WHAT CAN YOU ATTRIBUTE TO THAT? IS IT AN ISSUE OF THE TEAM JUST TAKING LONGER TO GEL THAN YOU THOUGHT?
"I think in the beginning that was the case. But at this point I think we have had enough time to do that. It's more of a situation of, well, for one, we just have not had good reliability. It's a bit confusing for us because the Ford engine has been quite reliable this year, but for some reason when they have had problems it has been our car. It has been difficult to not finish because you are not scoring the points. If you are not scoring points, then you are forced to qualify in the first session and that really hurts any chance of qualifying up front, and at so many of the places we race, especially on the street circuits, it really puts you at a disadvantage. Once you get behind it's really tough to catch up."

THESE QUALIFYING RULES WORK OUT FOR THOSE UP IN THE POINTS, BUT IF YOU HAVE A FEW RACES THAT YOU DON'T SCORE POINTS, ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME FOR THE SEASON, IT REALLY PUTS YOU IN A TOUGH SPOT. IS THIS A FAIR SITUATION?
"I don't really think it's a fair situation. I felt that way at the start of the season. I'd like to see CART just give everybody an hour of qualifying and during that hour, you can run when you want to. That way at least everybody is running on the same track. I mean this year it has worked for and against us. On a couple of occasions it's been dry during the first group and it rained for the second group. People put so much money, effort and time into this, to have arbitrary circumstances set the grid doesn't seem like the best scenario."

WITH THREE RACES LEFT THIS SEASON, ARE YOU LOOKING AT LAGUNA SECA AS A WAY TO BUILD MOMENTUM FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS SEASON OR AS A BUILDING BLOCK FOR NEXT SEASON?
"My approach isn't going to be any different than it was at Houston, or the European races. We are going to try to get the results the best we can. The goal is to get the best results we can. Obviously, the team and myself are looking forward to this weekend based on the results I've had at Laguna over the last few years. But, I don't for a second think that I am a lock this weekend or that my success is going to continue by any means. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to ensure that we have a good race this weekend."

WHAT DO YOU AND THE TEAM NEED TO DO THIS WEEKEND TO GUARANTEE A VICTORY?
"I think Laguna has shown that the cars that qualify up front have good finishes. So that's going to be key. I know we are getting extra help this weekend from the Ford-Cosworth guys in the engine department and that's going to definitely help. Horsepower is key at Laguna."

WHO DO YOU THINK THE BIGGEST COMPETITION IS GOING TO BE FOR YOU GUYS THIS WEEKEND?
"Everybody seems to think the Penske cars are going to be strong this weekend. All season they have shown their strength on the road courses and that they are the cars to beat."

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Bryan Herta , Henry Ford , Alexander Winton