2005 INDIANAPOLIS 500 MEDIA TOUR PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT Wednesday, April 6, 2005, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Indianapolis Target Chip Ganassi Racing: Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Darren Manning, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull PAT SULLIVAN: ...
2005 INDIANAPOLIS 500 MEDIA TOUR PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Wednesday, April 6, 2005, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Indianapolis
Target Chip Ganassi Racing: Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Darren Manning, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull
PAT SULLIVAN: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Target Chip Ganassi Racing and a great turnout in what is an impressive facility. Really enjoy looking at it. With an impressive group of drivers and talent here. When we think about all forms of racing, to be honest, but since our focus is on the Indy Racing League Series this evening, this is a team defined excellence, beginning with the man at my left, Chip Ganassi, who had his own time behind the wheel. Mike Hull, the managing director, if you talk to Chip and talk about one of the driving forces behind many of the championship runs at Ganassi Racing, much of the credit goes to that gentleman, Mike Hull. Scott Dixon as a very young man won at Nazareth, certainly in the modern era is the youngest ever to win a major open-wheel event. Scott, as many of you know, comes to us from Auckland, New Zealand. His first Indy Racing League Series event on the full tour resulted in a win at Homestead-Miami; and he just took off from there and garnered the 2003 championship. It was great to have Darren Manning join this last year; Darren, a gentleman who was an All-Japan F3 champion. He also did some test driving in Formula One with BAR Racing. He's had some solid runs already this year in the 2005 campaign. We're delighted to bring to us from Sydney, Australia, Ryan Briscoe. Those of you had the privilege to either be at St. Petersburg or to watch the event on television, there is a young man who was in position to score that event. As many of you know, Ryan is a gentleman who also did some test driving in Formula One for Toyota. And if you've been paying attention to the F1 season this year, I believe Toyota is second in manufacturer points. So I think we could say that some of the hard work that Ryan did is paying some dividends for that team. We're delighted to have all of you here. Chip, we turn to you. I'm reminded in the world of basketball that a player once said to the all-time great Lenny Wilkins, "Coach, did you ever play the game?" Well, of course he did, and it b rings to mind that there was a period of time when you were the fastest rookie to qualify at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Those have to be fond memories for you.
CHIP GANASSI: Thanks, Pat, and thanks to everybody for being here this evening. Yes, I do have obviously fond memories of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500, of course. When you come back here each May, you know, and May is just around the corner, and I apologize we don't have any apple butter over on our buffet this evening, but that's always a staple of the month of May. My fondest memories of racing revolve around this town, this track, this race. It's that simple. And when I look back, certainly the fastest rookie in 1982, that was certainly a high point to that point, and the many years that followed and many successes, many heartbreaks, many close finishes, just -- you know, as a lot of us in this room could, we could write a book about May and around Indianapolis. I feel as if I'm one of those people now. Just last year probably my crowning achievement for May, while some may think it's the victories here, it's actually being asked to be a member of the Oldtimers Club.
SULLIVAN: That's very interesting, Chip. Those of us for whom Indianapolis, the race means so much, it burns so deeply, we think about what it means to be a driver. As I look to the back, as an individual who does public address on the road for the Indy Racing League, I can't wait to hear the booming voice of our friend Tom Carnegie, who's at the back of the room. Tom will be making his 60th year. Tom, great to see you back here. How about it for Tom Carnegie and what he's meant to this Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a real legend. (Applause) I look at this Baby Borg, and I wonder how many people have those and you know what it means to taste the milk in Victory Lane, Chip. That's got to be some thrill.
GANASSI: Again, it's like no other feeling in sports. You know, it begins that day, we've all heard so many times, begins with that day, walking up, walking out of Gasoline Alley there and looking left and looking right and just seeing those throngs of people. You really, really from a driver, I'm sure, through to management of a team to a car owner, you walk out that morning and you're a gladiator, if you will. It brings back -- it brings feelings that are unlike any other day the other 364 days of the year. To end that day as part of a team of the boldest of gladiators, if you will, is truly undescribable in sports. It's something that through all the years you come back here and there's no other way to describe it, but I can tell you that Mike and I talk about that's the only reason we're here, is for that fleeting moment.
SULLIVAN: You know, Mike, as we look to -- I called Mike, we have a great lineup of driver talent, obviously with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. You've got top-flight facilities, you've got equipment, but it still has to be brought together. It still has to be made into a cohesive unit. That has to be one of your challenges to get everyone pulling in the same direction.
MIKE HULL: You're exactly right because you can see what we've got here. But what we try to do here during the week when we're working in the building, is we talk about Sunday. We try to remember what we do best, and that's race on Sunday. Sunday at Indianapolis is a huge day, as Chip said. It's really the one day of the year we live for. I don't think anywhere in the world there's a Sunday like that Sunday. So we work all year to be ready to win the race. That's what we're all about here.
SULLIVAN: Scott Dixon, obviously you've been a champion of the Indy Racing League, and that's important. And perhaps someone who's not grown up in the shadows of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, maybe the feelings aren't quite as deep, but I suspect when you're around these people, you understand what it means to get your face on one of these trophies. Talk about what the month of May means for you.
SCOTT DIXON: I think coming from New Zealand or anywhere in the world, and not growing up in America, you still have a huge knowledge of the actual race. You always watched it when you're growing up if you're in motorsports. So I pretty much knew it was going on. I think having the feeling as being maybe a young American and wanting to win it was not as drastic. But going there for the first time and witnessing and experiencing it is very unique, and you are quite proud to be a part of it because not many people do it. And just to walk out, because you do spend so much time there during the month and then to walk out there on Race Day is so special just because there's so many people, it's totally different to what you experience before. Just the whole history of it, I think, is pretty big.
SULLIVAN: Darren, you're with your second full year with us in the Indy Racing League and, you know, interestingly enough, the last time you and I were going close together, we were going to introduce a rock concert, if you recall. One of the prepared questions for me is Darren, you're from England, aren't you more interested in soccer? We know the deep racing history and tradition in England, particularly. The opportunity here to join this team, to join Chip Ganassi, that had to be a big thrill for you.
DARREN MANNING: Absolutely. As you say, growing up and doing all my apprenticeship in racing from 10 years old up to mid-20s in motorsports over in Europe, I had a strong knowledge of the Ganassi outfit, the wins they had in the late '90s and all the wins they've had in Champ Car and watching Scott, as well. So, you know, it was a big thing. Like the IRL, like the 500 as well, you know, not just the British Grand Prix, the Monaco Grand Prix, it's said -- and the Le Mans 24 Hours, it's held in the same breath as those big races over in Europe. So it was definitely on the forefront of my list of races that I wanted to put a tick next to with hopefully a P1 and definitely coming to this team has definitely brought me one step closer to that goal.
SULLIVAN: We've enjoyed watching you race, and we know that's coming. Ryan, as I look to you, you don't get to this level, you don't get to the level to be with this team, you don't get to the level of being a Formula One test driver without having been successful, without having tasted victory. It's a hard adjustment to come to a series like the Indy Racing League from where you were. So man, oh, man, you must have been delighted to be out in front of the field at St. Petersburg. That had to make you feel good.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean just this Sunday, leading my first laps in the IndyCar Series was an amazing feeling. Last year I wasn't racing at all, just test driving, which was a great experience. But it certainly brought back some memories of what it's like to be out in front and commanding the field. It's a great honor to be racing over here for Chip Ganassi Racing. It's all happened quite suddenly. It wasn't something that's sort of been planned for a long time. Looking toward the Indy 500, it's one of those races that since a young kid I've always sort of looked at it more as a -- I don't know how to say -- like a fantasy, to see this huge race and never seemed a reality. And all of a sudden here we are next month. I'm going to be racing there with one of the most impressive teams in IndyCar Series. So I can't wait for it. I don't really know what to expect, I hear so much about it, but I know it's going to be a huge race. And I really hope to do well with the team.
SULLIVAN: Let's give you a little heads up on what the lay of the land is going to be. We're going to take some questions and answers, we're also going to split up and have three of the team managers with Target Chip Ganassi, Scott Harner, Grant Weaver and Matt Swan, conduct some pit tours -- shop tours. I'm still at the racetrack -- and will be available for if you want to do some one-on-ones with the drivers. I believe we're going to be set up here for that. Before we go to that, I think as someone who actually studies and teaches about organizational life, Chip, I'd like to say to you from the moment we talked in the front door today with the people that greeted us, with the people who have been around us and set this event up, this has been marked by class. I think all of us are really -- owe these folks a round of applause for the work they've done to make this a first-class event. (Applause) Let's take some questions. Don't be shy.
Q: Can you comment some on Toyota engines and how much improvement that they've made at this point this year and compare the engines you're getting from Toyota to the Penskes. What's the difference at this point what Penske's getting out of his Toyotas?
GANASSI: The initial difference is that Penske rebuild their own engines and ours come from Santa Ana, California. Ours are coming from the factory, and Penske does their own engines. That's the first thing you need to know. The second thing you need to know is Toyota has been a great partner of ours for many years. Obviously they have, while some may feel they have some ground to make up, and they have been making up ground on their competition, and they feel that they're not done yet in terms of making up ground, and you know developments in this business, developments used to come once a season and then developments came for super speedways and short tracks and road races and then, you know, developments came, and we're to the point where the developments are coming about once a week now. So I think it's important to understand that as much as we as competitors are racing week in and week out, you also have these engine manufacturers that are in a race with each other; and they're both, both the Japanese manufacturers I know and Chevrolet are racing week in and week out with each other, you know, coming with a new development, coming with some small thing every week to push the outer edge of this envelope further and further each week.
SULLIVAN: Lynn, you had a question?
Q: I would like to know, Ryan, have you had any laps at Indianapolis? Have you had any laps of practice or testing at Indianapolis? I should know this, but I don't.
BRISCOE: No, not yet but yesterday all the Firestone testing out there, I did my laps in just a normal road car but I'll be having the rookie orientation out there on the 8th and 9th of May.
Continued in part 2