Continued from part 1 Q: Alex, what is it like now, you're going to have a more experienced teammate, can you tell us how that change is going to be? ALEX BARRON: I think it brings more strength to the team. Any time you can go out on a ...
Continued from part 1
Q: Alex, what is it like now, you're going to have a more experienced teammate, can you tell us how that change is going to be?
ALEX BARRON: I think it brings more strength to the team. Any time you can go out on a circuit and have two cars that have a lot of confidence, you can bring two things back to the trailer to debrief, you have more angles to attack the race car.
I'm very happy for that, and I think having, you know, two drivers that are very experienced and have won races, they have a tendency to push each other. I think that's something that we definitely need to put in place.
I think the team, we're constantly moving forward in the right direction. With Toyota on board this year, with two seasoned drivers, I think it's going to be fantastic. I'm very happy and I just can't wait to get started. It just seems like the off-season is longer and longer every year. I'm very excited to go testing in December.
Q: Where is that test going to happen?
ALEX BARRON: I believe it's going to be in Florida.
Q: Eddie, you had a question about testing his Dallara Toyota. Does that mean you are staying with a Dallara chassis for the coming year?
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: Yes, that's correct. We'll be staying with the Dallara chassis.
Q: How long have you been talking with the folks at Toyota to make this change?
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: (Laughter.) A lady would ask me that. We have always been proactive in making sure that we set our programs up as early on as we could. But this season it was very difficult because we were going through difficult times with General Motors for a variety of reasons. So we really only initiated discussions with them very late on in the year when it was clear to us that GM wasn't going to be able to give us the support that we required.
It happened pretty late. I should be a politician. I just spoke for five minutes and said nothing (laughter).
Q: You got it through to me.
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: OK.
Q: Can you speak a little more about your desire to race in the Indy 500, how that played into your decision to change series?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, for me it's something that I've wanted for quite a long time actually. I was watching the race when I was still in (Toyota) Atlantic, back when Jacques Villeneuve and Scott Goodyear went at it. I guess Jacques won the Indy (500).
It was a great race. Everybody always watched it back in Canada. I love ovals. It's a race that I've come to see and look at many, many times. It's something that I would like to do. It's a track I would like to race on and in front of the giant crowd, the people. It's a different race.
For sure for me when I came into open-wheel racing, that's the year that I guess the two series went separate ways. I never had the opportunity to do it. So for me it's something that I've been wanting to do for quite a while.
Q: Was it a factor? How did it play in, the IRL being an American series, being a Canadian driver, Champ Car having much more of a Canadian presence?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No, for sure I enjoyed very much the time that I raced in Canada, and we got very good crowds. That's not to say that the IRL might not end up back there one of these days.
But it's a great opportunity for me. For me, I love to drive those cars, the race cars, and I love ovals. I've always for some reason done fairly well on ovals, whether it was in Atlantic and the Sprint car I tried or the IndyCars. It's always the type of racing I've really enjoyed. The closer it is, I was watching the IRL on TV, sitting at the edge of my seat. They've had some great races this year.
I just like the spectacle. I like the race, the way it's done. That's why I decide to come to it.
Q: If you could explain a little more what about it is the ovals you enjoy, what challenges it presents, what you may have to learn in the coming weeks to be ready for the next season.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: The biggest thing I think I'm going to have to learn for next season as quickly as I can is the technical side of it, how to set up the car, what it does with the changes. I know with the IRL cars, very, very fine details will make a big, big difference. I guess if you lift on the straightaway, it makes a huge difference, and you get passed by a few cars. The way the car is set up, the way you can follow other cars is extremely important.
But for me what oval comes from quite a ways back, not in racing actually. I've been a speed skater since I was four years old. I raced in Canadian and North American championships in the U.S. and Canada. I used to go to Lake Placid (NY) in the winter for a few weeks to train on the outdoor ovals.
Q: At the Olympic facilities there?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Exactly. Very young I was doing that. My father raced actually snowmobiles, on ice. That's been in the family, even though it was not a race car, since I was four years old. I've spent time on ovals.
Then when I started racing, I stopped for a few years. When I got back in Atlantic, we got on an oval. It was just like home, you know, the way you pass, the way you enter the corners. It's really similar to indoor speed skating. For me I've done that for eight years. I guess it was good experience that I acquired to use in the race car.
Q: You've almost been going in circles you're whole life.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Exactly. At times it seems like it moved forward, but circles pretty much all the time. I really enjoy it.
Q: What age did you start speed skating?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Four years old.
Q: Let me shift this conversation a minute. Eddie, quite recently you had an Indian driver, I can't pronounce his name right now.
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: Narain (Karthikeyan).
Q: How did that go and what can you tell us about that? My listeners in Chicago are quite interested in minority people entering into this field, what can you tell us about that?
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: First of all, I thank you for the question. It was the first time that an Indian driver had actually driven on an oval. Narain is part of the Red Bull junior team. He's one of the younger drivers Red Bull is involved with. They have many different nationalities across the world.
We invited him here to test on an oval because he's been looking at participating in the IRL. His options in his career right now are between trying to find a ride in Formula One, which is very difficult to do, and just as difficult obviously as trying to find a ride here in the IRL.
His test went well. The weather was not perfect. He did about 60 laps. Alex Barron warmed up the car for him. He came within half a second of Alex's time, which I thought was a very good test without crashing. There is an opportunity maybe that we will test him later in the season.
At this point we do not have a plan for running him obviously since we've made our announcement today. But it is not impossible that we might run a third car for just the Indianapolis 500. I'm not saying it will be Narain. I'm just saying it might be an opportunity we might pursue. Our main focus right now is on Alex and Patrick.
Q: About three years ago a team of young drivers were introduced to us at a press conference at Indianapolis. At that time there was a note taken there weren't any women or minorities in this group. Without insulting your intelligence, is this move meant to indicate that Red Bull Cheever are at least looking at the diversity part of your program?
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: As every American, I am always open to any idea. The ethnic issue, minority issue is not an issue we address, per se. I believe in giving everybody an opportunity.
My race cars do not know if you're American, Italian, Indian or German. They just want to go fast. So I will always look in every nook and every cranny I can for a motivated employee, being a he or her, engineer, race car driver, or somebody that takes care of other parts of our race team.
I cannot take credit, and I appreciate you offering me that sentence, that we are doing something different. I do not take credit because I'm trying to offer opportunities to minorities or different ethnic groups. I'm just looking for the best employees I can. Often I find them in places one would not expect to see them in racing.
Q: Can you follow up on that third car?
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: We're considering running a third car. I really don't think at this point in time it will happen in time for the beginning of the season. The might of Andretti Green this year kind of shocked everybody. But I think it's not something you have to do. If the opportunity presents itself, we will do it.
I would like for just numerical reasons to have a third car at the Indianapolis 500, but it is going to be a car that will be a separate project so that it will not be a drain on our two primary cars.
MODERATOR: Eddie, Patrick and Alex, thank you all very much for joining us today. We will see you down the road next year.
EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: Thank you.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Thank you.
ALEX BARRON: Thank you.