CART Champ Car media teleconference transcript with Series Champion Paul Tracy and Australia winner Ryan Hunter-Reay on Tracy's securing the championship and Hunter-Reay's first career victory at Surfers Paradise, Australia. Part 2 of 2 Q: ...
CART Champ Car media teleconference transcript with Series Champion Paul Tracy and Australia winner Ryan Hunter-Reay on Tracy's securing the championship and Hunter-Reay's first career victory at Surfers Paradise, Australia.
Part 2 of 2
Q: Pivotal moment in your career that you can -- just quickly that you gravitate to?
PAUL TRACY: Can you say that again.
Q: Pivotal moment in reflection of your career,your highest point ---
PAUL TRACY: There's a lot of highs. Really, I mean, there's so many race wins and there's so many places that I have achieved great things. I can't really put my finger on one thing that's the pivotal moment. But I mean, the end goal is the championship. Now I have achieved that. I am hopeful that my motivation is still high. I feel I am driving as well as I have ever driven and like I said, I am motivated to continue driving. So I think I am right now at 34, I am in the prime of my career. I feel like I can win more championships.
Q: Paul, bottom-line this for me: What part of this championship was you know, the right out of the package and everything coming together, what part of it was the team that -- the people that you put around yourself?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think it's a combination of everything. You have got to have -- the package is important. The Series is very strict on what you can and can't do. Obviously the rules are very tight, so the Series has somewhat become mostly a spec Series, it's put a lot more -- everybody has the same engine. Everybody has the same tires. There's nobody with a horsepower advantage or a fuel-mile advantage or a different turbo that's better, or whatever. So it's put a lot more into the driver's hands and the team's hands. The team that does the best job will ultimately end up winning races, and the driver that does the best job. So that's what gives me a lot of satisfaction is that you know, I can't say, well, we didn't -- you know, our engine wasn't as good as so and so engines or he had better this or better that. Everybody else pretty much has the same stuff. I can say that myself and our team, we just did a better job than everybody.
Q: The day hasn't been announced yet but looks like you will have a real home game in your area out by Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Your thoughts about going out there and running.
PAUL TRACY: I think it's going to be great. They have been talking about it for years and years. It was actually one of the reasons why I moved out here because I felt that I thought that we were going to be racing out here about five years ago and we would be doing a lot of testing. So it could cut down on a lot of travel in the winter because this is a good climate out here for testing. If that all comes together, I think it's going to be a great race not only for Champ Car but also for the city of Las Vegas.
Q: Ryan and Paul, I wanted to find out if either of you had any challenge or any kind of obstacles you needed to overcome getting to Los Angeles from Australia because of the fires? I know some of the airports were closed and some of the roads have been closed. What kind of things have you and the team gone through to get to L.A. for the race?
PAUL TRACY: I am back in Las Vegas now. I just arrived in L.A. yesterday morning. My flight was cancelled to Vegas so I had to rent a car and drive from the 10 to the 15 and then right through San Bernadino and there was fires on either side of the highway in the hills. A lot of smoke and a lot of helicopters flying around and fire trucks and you can see a lot of trucks going up and down the fire roads up and down the side of the mountains. I can see firsthand, pretty catastrophic.
Q: Anything that you could have imagined though?
PAUL TRACY: When you are over in Australia and the -- you know, you don't really get a sense of what is really going on over here until you see it firsthand. Nothing is the same seeing it in person.
Q: Ryan, what about you?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, big questionmark for us since the race is ended on Monday, I had heard that airport might be closed. That wasn't the case, but I am in L.A. quite frequently flying in, you couldn't even see the ground coming in. That goes to show you. I have been watching some of the footage in Australia, the tires, and like Paul said, the biggest concern is just for the people right now that are going through all this. Racing comes second to it all. We'll see how it goes. We are here, I just got in about an hour ago, and I just talked to my team manager and said something about the city government having a meeting about it today. So I guess we're all sort of just waiting see what the word is.
Q: Were your flights cancelled at all or was any equipment left back, cars, was there any problem transporting any of that stuff over?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: No, I think everything is here. Everything is fine for the most part. From my understanding so far.
Q: Are either your two teams planning on doing any kind of -- providing any kind of donations for any of the families or victims of the tires or anything like that been talked about between the teams?
PAUL TRACY: I haven't actually had a chance to talk to Jerry Forsythe about that issue yet. But he's coming out on Friday and I just really -- we have to see what happens there with the race and what is going on. As far as that's concerned, I haven't had a chance to talk to him about that.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: No, not at all really. I haven't -- I just got in just now, so you are the first people I am talking to actually.
Q: Paul, I was wondering if you have any concerns about the sponsorship issue for next season or are you leaving that up to the people in charge to sort that out?
As far as I know I mean, I know that they have something lined up. I know that Player's will retain it's half ownership in the team and continue to do, I think they are going to continue to do hospitality, which they are allowed to do, to entertain clients, certain customers, and as far as I know on the sponsorship, they have a program lined up for next year. That will be announced after the season is over and everything is in step for Player's and they get their maximum exposure and then make an announcement in the off-season.
Q: Obviously looks like your CEO's reign is going to end in a couple of weeks. You have had a couple of run-ins with him this year. Give me your overall opinion how he's done in his two years as CART CEO?
I think he's done a really great job. He took over the situation and really I have had some people say he's like -- like a guy who showed up at an accident scene and was able to save the thing at the site and now we need to move it to the next level. And continue to build from here. CART was really in a bad way a couple of years ago and he came in and he took it over and made things happen. Got the teams to stay and for the most part, a lot of the drivers to stay and brought some new drivers in and new teams and facilitated a lot of the deals that have come together. Now with the changing of ownership and new direction going in, it's time for him -- he is prepared to step aside and just consult and move on.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle the new ownership is group, do you think, will face in the off-season and going into next year?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think there's not a lot of obstacles. I think they have got a schedule pretty much planned out. It will be 15 to 17 races in big markets. They have a game plan of what they want to try to do with Motorock. Really, now it's just taking it to -- taking the marketing and the promotion to the level that it needs to be at and that's what it's all about. I think the product is good, you know, the races are good, the venues are good. It just needs to be marketed and get the awareness out there.
Q: Just made it in under the wire here. Congratulations to both of you. Paul, obviously it's been a rollercoaster race and season and thirteen years, couldn't be happier for you. Really glad for you. You sort of touched on it that Fontana will be the last race for Player's in a sort of semi-direct role with the team or as the main sponsor that's not allowed to be on the car at this point. To win the last championship for them and also ultimately the first championship first CART championship for Jerry Forsythe. Can you talk about kind of what that means for you?
Well, I mean, it means a lot to me because when they hired me on the team that was the objective and I along with that -- you missed a lot of the conversation earlier, it's really the only team that I have ever been involved with when I joined the team basically they said, tell us what you want, whatever you need, we need to win this championship and whatever you want or think you need, tell us and we'll get it for you. It's really the only team that I have had that has allowed me to do that and place the people around me that I had confidence in and they had confidence in me, you know, from Tony Cicale to Todd Malloy to all the engineering staff was basically hand-picked to go around me and people that I have worked with in the past. Really, I mean, along with that, now they have given me all this freedom to do that, now I have got to deliver. So there was a lot of pressure that went along with that and constant pressure throughout the year.
We started off the off-season not so great testing -- I wasn't as quick as I wanted to be, but everything was coming together and then we started off the season with three wins in a row and as the year went on, I mean, you know, you build confidence, but then you get towards the end of the year, the pressure just starts to build. Every time that we would have a good race then the last few races, last five or six races, was really just a racheting effect of our team against Newmann/Haas and we would respond and then they'd come back the next weekend and raise their game and they would respond, and then we would come back the next weekend and, we would raise our game every week. With that, the pressure built every week. To finally achieve that in Fontana the way the race went, it was really -- the race was almost like a recap of my whole year .
Q: Ryan, obviously it's kind of been an up-and-down season for you too in the sense that there were some races where things clicked, the Reynard worked and obviously Mid-Ohio being one of them and Mexico City even though you know what I mean, even though sometimes the results weren't there, for example, Mexico City, Portland and another place where you didn't necessarily get the results, but at least in the one qualifying session you were right there. But I mean, those sorts of things, can you talk about how kind -- how the, I won't call them minor, but the sort of the sporadic successes kind of helped you and the team, you know, keep your heads up through the course of the year when you'd go to places like Mid-Ohio and be really quick, but then go to the next couple of races knowing that you really didn't have much of a chance?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, that has been tough, just all the ups and downs with this new team. We got everybody together just a few days before spring training and hadn't done much testing at all. I think that has been a factor to some of our sporadic results, but like you say, when we had it right, everything came together and we did a great job in Mexico City, we were quick. Some places the Reynard just wasn't competitive. But then again, you know, I don't want to hide behind the Reynard too much just because in some places we were way off the pace when other guys at Conquest were on it. It's been a big learning year for everybody involved. Probably not Jimmy, but he's had to adapt quite a bit to a team like this, with a very tight budget and everything. It's been tough in a lot of ways but that makes the success of this past win that much better when we both get on the podium like that and for me to get up on the podium for the second time this season with this team is just such a great honor. It's unbelievable.
ERIC MAUK: That will bring a close to our media teleconference today. Again congratulations on your accomplishments. We'll see you guys this weekend. Thank you. Media, than you very much for attending today.