IPS: Indy Racing League teleconference 2008-03-19, part 1

Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript Wednesday, March 19, 2008 An interview with Richard Antinucci, Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear, Charlie Morgan, Dale Coyne, Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank...

Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An interview with Richard Antinucci, Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear, Charlie Morgan, Dale Coyne, Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us today. Starting the call with us today is Indy Pro Series Driver Richard Antinucci. Later in the call we'll be joined by Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear and Charlie Morgan to talk about the ESPN/ABC broadcast this year. Finally we'll be joined by Dale Coyne, Bruno Junqueira, and Mario Moraes. Good afternoon, Richard.

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Good afternoon, how are you?

MODERATOR: Doing well. Richard's coming back for his second season in the Indy Pro Series. Last year, he contested the nine road course events driving for his uncle, Eddie Cheever Jr. He won races at Mid Ohio and Infineon, and he won the pole at Infineon. This year he'll be driving the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.

Welcome back to the Indy Pro Series. Tell us about the opportunity to join a powerhouse team like Sam Schmidt Motorsports?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, thanks, first of all for having me here today. I think it is a great opportunity. You could put it as a "pat on the shoulder" and kind of good recognition for the strong efforts and good work that was taking place last season on a part-time schedule. So whatever we did the last season in this field got us up or got myself up to a very good drive and a great opportunity to shine and hopefully make the next step, which is IndyCar Series. It's a good step and a good chance so far.

Q: You've had a couple of chances to test with the team. How are you adapting to the team and getting along with those guys?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, the team and the guys -- the staff in general, is run excellently. Great people, very dedicated. They're winners in the sense that they're used to winning, but it's also just a mental status. The people are very dedicated and sharp. It's just contagious to work with people like that.

I consider myself someone who is hard on myself, and I hold certain goals as well. So I think we match quite well. And perhaps I'm a bit green on the ovals though. I've never had a race under my belt, so I'm going to be a rookie in every effect for ovals.

But in terms of the championship, it's nine road course races, eight ovals. It's a very complete package. I can't wait to get underway and do as well as I can.

Q: You touched on the ovals that was kind of my next question. What are some of the things you think you need to learn about racing on the ovals?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Everything. I know a certain type of oval. I've never raced on a short oval nor have I ever tested on a Superspeedway. Homestead is the main track. And my rookie test that was taken place last autumn in Kentucky. Those are two very similar tracks. So I need to get used to the two of the three other types of ovals.

I need to get used to drafting, which is a big thing when you're racing. There are certain tracks that you can run flat out with any car and any set-up will be flat out. So we'll have a very close field, and drafting will be what separates the men from the boys.

Q: Last year Alex Lloyd who drove the No. 7 car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and had a phenomenal year. One of the keys was getting off to a fast start. He won the first five races. How important is it to get off to a quick start?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: It's always very important. I'm not going to say it's the end of the world, because I don't want to dig myself a grave before we start. But you've seen comebacks in the past. You've also seen people start very strongly. I think it was a question, a case of certain circumstances as well. I saw those races on video. Those could have easily been performance, podium performances rather than dominant victories that they looked like on articles.

You have guys like Cunningham who joined quite late in the day and stuff like that. But still, to get off to a good start is definitely motivating. It kind of breaks everyone else's momentum as well while you're doing that. So it is definitely the key. It's one of the keys let's say. Not fundamental, but if you can do that, why not?

Q: Can you compare the present challenges that you're looking at to past challenges?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Sure. Well, the ovals are going to be the biggest thing, because it's a completely different style of racing. Turning left all day is very different than anything else I've done so far. You know, mixed road courses, speed courses. And the Indy Pro Series is a heavier car than a Formula 3 car, and it's much less balanced ideally for a road course. You can tell it has reinforcements on the front and rear of the car. Very heavy gear box and engine.

So it's quite tricky to drive on a road course, and it finds its feet really on an oval. I say where I am new, I have a car that's built for that. But where I'm used to driving, I have a car that's a little trickier to drive. It's not naturally made for a road course.

So it's give and take. It's quite different. The biggest difference and biggest challenge is driving on oval racing for the first time.

Q: Focus is so important in this sport do you acquire that on the track, do you think, or do you bring it along with you as a race car driver?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, I always try to keep myself humble and my feet on the ground. I tell myself, you never know, a guy driving a white van might be the most talented guy out there but he doesn't get a chance. So I think dedication and a lot of hard work is what has gotten me any good results if I've had any.

So I definitely need to focus and try my best. But when you do relax sometimes, it comes all together better. So a mixture between concentration and not being overstressed out or overfocused on something. It has to come quite naturally, I would say.

Q: How much is your uncle fed into all of this? Is he giving you some advice and all of that?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: My uncle's always there for advice. He's very good on super speedways in my opinion. So it's always good advice. To be honest with you, I've been quite busy with my team and working on their indications and their feedback. And I haven't had time to rub off any regarding this new season.

Last year it was a very ever present advice and constant counseling and stuff. But now, at this stage in 2008, with my new team, not right now, no.

Q: How did it all come about with you getting on such a powerhouse team?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, hopefully I'd like to believe that it came about due to my last results of the last season. The last few races we won two out of the last three. The other was a second place. We were finished in the top four in all the last four races.

You know, we out-qualified that car, and started beating that car. I passed it a couple of times over the last few races. So I think the owner of that team who has pride and knows what his car's worth probably thought, hey, well, we don't want to be racing against this guy if he does a full season next year or something like that.

But that's a better question to ask Sam Schmidt, actually. I just know I put my head down and tried to do my best with last year's package, and then I got a call over the autumn.

Q: Considering you mentioned yourself that you're a little green on the ovals, first off, did you and your team have any specific goals in mind for the Homestead test last month? And did you feel like you accomplished those?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, I'd say the Homestead test, you know, even with rookies in the past, like take Jay Howard, they were probably fastest right away. So what I would say is we struggled and you could put it down to me in the most case. I have no problem with that, because we all kind of struggled as a team if you look at all four cars, we're almost consecutively down in the mid-pack of the field. But the important thing is to work, get some laps under our belt, gel, and then probably not show all our cards.

You don't get any points like Sam Schmidt said, and the money starts coming next weekend, not now. So we had to work, we had a certain amount of things on our check list, certain objectives. We obtained some. Struggled more with others. Went back as a team, had meetings, and I think we can only bounce back.

Q: From both a physical and mental standpoint, did anything jump out at you by running on this oval test?

RICHARD ANTINUCCI: No. I have done two half days previously, so I am quite green on ovals. I've never done a full day until that other day. But physically, I wouldn't say it's more demanding than a road course event. Probably less. Less bumps. Smoother you get into the flow. And you have to train your body for right-hand G-loads, due to the left-hand corners. So that's all I say.

When you prepare well, you try your best. I'd like to believe I'm ready to take on both disciplines.

MODERATOR: Richard, thank you for joining us this afternoon.

Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined now by Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear from ESPN and ABC. And also Charlie Morgan, the President of IMS Productions. Good afternoon, gentlemen.

ESPN and ABC is celebrating its 13th year of IndyCar Series coverage in 2008, as well as the 44th year of Indianapolis 500 coverage. The entire schedule will be broadcast in high definition, including an on-board camera that can provide a rotating 360-degree view. Marty returns for his third season in the play-by-play role, while Scott Goodyear is back for his eighth season in broadcasting, following a career that included 11 Indianapolis 500s. And Charlie is in his first full year as president of IMS Production.

Marty, you and Scott have worked together for three years now, but even more so this year, the entire pit crew remains the same as well. How does that familiarity lend itself to a better broadcast?

MARTY REID: I think it's the same as any other team, no matter what sport you're talking about. I see a lot of correlations between what we do with what our race teams do. Everybody plays a key role. You know, our crew chief is our producer, and then it takes 60 people to put us all on the air.

Having the same crew, especially the familiarity with the teams, and now with the unification, that's going to help in that process as well, because we can really focus. In fact, I'm in Sebring as we speak. In fact, I'm sitting here with Bruno Junqueira, and Mario Moraes and Dale Coyne, because they'll be coming on right after this.

And it's given us an opportunity to focus in on these guys, because we already know the core nucleus group that has held over from last year.

Q: The biggest change then really is the addition to HD. How do you think that will affect the telecast?

MARTY REID: Scott and I are going to look a lot uglier, that's for sure (laughing). It picks out every flaw that you have in high definition. But for the viewer at home, it's going to be spectacular. Especially the on-boards in high def, and this new 360 (camera), Scott and I got a chance to see it down at the Homestead test, and, Scott, you can accentuate on it. It's going to be a great look.

SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think the neat thing for me after so many years of driving all different types of cars, we now have an opportunity to take the viewer at home to see the complete pass. Not only from the rearview camera on the gear box when somebody's starting to set up a pass in a draft and then swings to the outside of the car, then we go to the camera on top of the roll hoop. Then sometimes we have to cutaway and bring on another camera just sort of see the completion of that pass.

The nice thing about this right now being a 360 is you get that opportunity then to see the set-up, the initial part of the pass, and then follow through, and all the way through to the front when the driver passes. A competitor, if that's what the director decides to do with it.

I think for me, that is going to be exciting because it lets people at home really get a feel of what the driver is in the cockpit and what he's feeling. Whether it's the driver being passed, the driver doing the passing. So that is very exciting. Then to have it in HD just to certainly bring out the color and excitement of it, I'm very excited for both of those.

Q: Yes, Scott, and Marty kind of hinted at this part, too. You've got several new drivers coming into the series this year. From your perspective as a former driver, what is the most important thing that they can do as they get assimilated with the new season and new package for them?

SCOTT GOODYEAR: Well, I think all the drivers would tell you the same thing: A race car is a race car. And if you can drive in a race car, you can sit in something else and get familiar with it very quickly.

Just before this call, Marty called me and we were having a discussion about some of the cars out at Sebring just today that bring over teams from the Champ Car World Series, explaining the times that they're doing. Very quickly they're getting very close to the times that the IndyCar guys from the IRL were turning just a week or so at Sebring.

I think what we're going to see very quickly is very talented drivers on both sides of this line, and very great teams. Obviously, when you have teams coming over that have the depth that they have and they'll be running in CART. I was back in the CART days. I started running back in cart in 1990. So I've lived through all that, seen the great teams that are there. Went through the split and I was on the IRL side.

And if you look at it and combine it now, I'm excited because I think everybody's going to have a shot at winning all of these races here very shortly.

I've listened to and spoken to some of the other drivers and Tony Kanaan said it great a week or so ago, he said don't be fooled, guys by everybody saying we're going to have to be a little long. Get caught up on what have you. There are some very good drivers, very good teams over there. Because he was also back in the CART day. I think that we're in for a great surprise.

It may not show up at Miami. It may not show up so much so at St. Pete's, though I think we'll be closer. But by the time the season wears on, we'll be back to the way we were before with great racing going on, open wheel racing in this country.

Q: Charlie, let's get some input from you as well. To make the switch to HD, there's been a lot of behind the scenes work. And IMS Productions has been very much involved in that. Take us through some of the steps and maybe really the investment that needed to be made that will facilitate this change for 2008?

CHARLIE MORGAN: It really is a team effort, Tim. We think that IndyCar Series racing is about speed and technology. And what we're trying to do is sort of harness the latest technology to really be able to demonstrate and bring that speed home to the viewer, wherever they're watching.

It involves our partners at ABC/ESPN, it involves all of our suppliers. For instance, it's BSI, Peter Larson and his group that developed that in-car camera that you're hearing Scott and Marty and others talk about, and it is spectacular. The views from it. We were looking at some video, again, out of the Homestead test the other day.

As Scott said, you feel like you're in the cockpit of that car. To the point where you can literally see the LED telemetry on the steering wheel. People may not even have known that existed, now you can see it on your television at home.

But it's a brand-new, built from scratch, state-of-the-art HD production truck that will be on site. It is those in-car cameras. It's fiber instead of copper at the tracks to deliver that signal. It's replacing and rebuilding, really, our world headquarters studios back in Indianapolis to be able to then process and deliver that programming all in HD. Every single thing you see will be in HD this year.

Q: Charlie, I'm very interested in how the high definition works. Do you actually then change out all your cameras to special cameras? And you mentioned about the fiber optics. Does that mean that the tracks that are prewired, that all of that has to be changed? What is kind of the cost involved in all of that?

CHARLIE MORGAN: I think we're probably afraid to add up those numbers and give you a final total. But it is safe to say that the answer to your question in, is it everything, yes, it is all new cameras. It is putting fiber down where there had been copper. It is, essentially, rebuilding the infrastructure to be able to deliver that.

Certainly it is very easy to get that number well north of $10 million before you even maybe get to some of those on-site changes that will have to take place. So it is a significant investment to be able to bring the full season of IndyCar Series racing in HD this year.

Q: I've seen some HD productions in the past so, it does make everything look so much better. So I'm excited about this. You said you had to do a whole new production truck, so, in other words, the previous technology you're not using that anymore?

CHARLIE MORGAN: That's right. I mean, there are certain behind the scenes pieces of equipment that we will be able to repurpose and use. But in every aspect, including audio, it takes a new investment in equipment to be able to be delivering this state-of-the-art content.

And you're right, it is a visually noticeable difference. And I think it will be exceptionally noticeable in our sport where speed is so important. You know, a golf game moves at one speed, a basketball game at another. But our race is moving at 200 miles an hour plus really making that top to bottom investment will be very, very obvious to the viewer when they watch this year.

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Scott Goodyear , Bruno Junqueira , Tony Kanaan , Sam Schmidt , Richard Antinucci , Alex Lloyd , Jay Howard , Mario Moraes , Dale Coyne