Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Feb. 11, 2003 Felipe Giaffone, Mark Taylor Part 1 of 2 - Mark Taylor Kent Johnson (IRL): Thank you, Marcello, and we certainly thank and appreciate all of the journalists who have joined us today for...
Indy Racing League
Feb. 11, 2003
Felipe Giaffone, Mark Taylor
Part 1 of 2 - Mark Taylor
Kent Johnson (IRL): Thank you, Marcello, and we certainly thank and appreciate all of the journalists who have joined us today for our Indy Racing League teleconference. Today we are very happy to have a pair of drivers join us: Infiniti Pro Series driver Mark Taylor, who drives the No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, as well as IndyCar Series driver Felipe Giaffone, who pilots the No.21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Let's start today's teleconference with a visit with Mark Taylor. First off, thank you, Mark, for joining us today and welcome.
Mark Taylor: Hi. It is nice to be here.
Johson: Your first experience on an oval and in an Infiniti Pro Series car came this past December. Tell us, if you can, a little bit about your learning curve and how you have adapted to a new car, the new tracks, as well as a new team.
Taylor: Well, it has been a big jump for me. I am only used to circuit racing so far, so getting on to the oval for the first time was -- It was a daunting experience, I have to say. It is something that I am not used to. It took me a bit of time to get used to everything. I have to say that after racing they have been usually supportive about me, and they realize it is going to take a little bit of time for me to get used to everything. And coming over here for the first time, living over here, I am used to living in England. That is where I have lived my whole life, so it is a big move for me, and hopefully they realize that I have shown my commitment to them and to the IndyCar Series in a whole.
Johson: Mark, as a follow-up, you alluded to your background primarily in European road racing; you are a proven race winner in British Formula 3. What made you decide to compete in the Infiniti Pro Series?
Taylor: Well, I was moderately impressed. I came over last year to watch a couple of races. The amount of competitiveness and the ability of the drivers impressed me hugely. Watching the IRL races and the Infiniti Pro races kept me standing up all the race through. So I was happy to be able to come over here. I was trying to find something that would challenge me, something exciting for me to do that I could still enjoy racing (Inaudible). I felt that I spent enough time in England, and I was looking abroad, and it was the most exciting championship to go in to into the future. I had opportunities to go into Formula 3000, other Formula 3cChampionships and plenty of other options, but I decided to come over here, hopefully get my name well known in America.
Johson: Very well, Mark. We would like to go ahead and move to the question-and-answer portion of our conference call with you.
Q: Thank you very much. Mark, welcome. First of all, let me say that it is interesting that you were to hook up with Panther Racing team, a team that has shown a lot of success. Was that one of the things that really lured you to come to America?
Taylor: I have to say no, really. I know that Panther were a huge team, but it is not a reason for me to come over here, I would not say. They were very well coming to me. I knew that they were a good team, but it was more of a case of the friendliness of the staff here. Everyone enjoyed me coming over here and racing with them. It is a case of looking at the championship as a whole rather than at any team. I wanted to come over, and of course be with a good team, but it was not a major factor. Any championship I want to do I want to do well. And I knew that Panther would be able to do a very good job in doing that. But it was more of a case of knowing that it was going to be a big step making sure that the championship was going to be competitive and also fun for me to race in.
Q: The instability of racing in Europe at the top echelon in Formula One and it seems to be affecting some of the lower-tier series as well. Did that turn you off a bit on trying to continue your career that you looked to the U.S. and said, "Well, maybe I can find some stability there?"
Taylor: There are definitely more opportunities over here at the moment. I could have gone into 3000 and tried to get into Formula One, but I do not enjoy 3000 in the way that I look at it from the outside at the moment. And it is the same with Formula One. I feel myself as a racing driver, not as someone who drives around machinery. And I feel that that is the way that Formula One has turned into in the last couple years. It is very tough to get into. I am not saying that the drivers in the championship are turning into bad drivers, but it is got a little bit stale as far as young talents coming in. They have shown in this future year coming that there are few young drivers coming in to it, and they should make more excitement. But as far as I was concerned, it was a bit too late for me. There were not enough opportunities to go -- They have (Inaudible) and huge amounts of what you would call junior series to Formula One, and I could have gone into any of those, but I would not have felt that I would have the opportunity that I would do over here.
Q: And finally the obvious question, how do you like the oval?
Taylor: Well, it has been pretty kind to me so far. I had a little accident at Phoenix. But the car has been feeling great, and it was nice to actually feel what it felt like hitting the wall. I have heard a lot about how much it hurts, but I am glad to say that it has not caused me too much damage at the moment. I am still learning. It is still a huge learning curve, and I am just looking forward to race on it now.
Q: It is funny, every time I ask someone who comes from Europe that gets on the oval for the first time - How did they like the oval? They always laugh before they answer.
Taylor: We get scared ovals over in England and in Europe because we are not used to them.
Q: What would be, do you think, your biggest adjustment you have made to make in coming over here? Would it be a driving style or a lifestyle or? I guess I am looking for something that might be hard for you to do.
Taylor: It would be more lifestyle. My driving style has been smooth throughout my career. It is something that I have been working on; accuracy and smoothness is what I work on the circuits. So coming to the oval is really a step in the right direction for me. America is very similar to England in a lot of ways but also very different. The friendliness of the people is very similar, but the food and the weather, climate and things like that, are very different, things that you have to get used to. You have to treat people slightly differently. You are not sure where you are. And it takes a little bit longer to do things that you would just do normally on a day-to-day basis.
Q: How do you feel about the racing in general in the United States? I am sure you have bigger plans to move on to something else after the Infiniti Pro Series.
Taylor: Well, the reason I am here is to hopefully get into the IRL in the future, and any opportunity to that I will take with both hands. But going around America, seeing the whole America, I have seen parts of it in the past, but it will be nice to race around everywhere, seeing the fans, how they react to the drivers. And yes, I say that is what I am looking forward to this year with a future, hopefully getting to IRL with plans it would be a great opportunity for me. Yes, that is really what I have to say about that in the future.
Q: Well, thank you.
Johson: Mark, you have tossed out several challenges that you are facing this year, becoming acclimated to the United States and life over here, joining a new team, entering a new series as well as the realm of oval-track racing. With all that put together, looking back on your Test in the West this past week, describe from your standpoint if you could the differences and challenges you encountered going from a 2-mile speedway such as the one at California to a 1-mile oval which you tested on at Phoenix.
Taylor: Yes, I was lucky enough to test on both of those before Christmas, so I knew what I was getting myself in to before we went over for the Test in the West. The superspeedway, it is a fraction big, I would say, for these cars. They need a little bit more power to make it more exciting, but it makes the racing more fun, I think, and it is a different change in the way that you set the car up. I needed a lot of help with that because I am not used to it, and Chris and Woody have been able to help me with that through the winter, and they have worked on the car very well, and we did not know how the new engine would react. That was the main thing for the superspeedway. With Phoenix, it is a real drivers' track. It is my first car to -- It is my only car that I have driven on this. I would not be able to tell you about the changes from that to other types of cars that have raced around that. But it is really exciting in those cars. They are very well settled down. If you can get the handling exactly right, you will find a chunk of time where you would not think you would do. It will be exciting to have 15, 20, 25 cars out there at a time, and it will be a real change for any driver who is in the race.
Johson: Well, Mark, we certainly appreciate you having taken the time to join us this morning and offer you a welcome to the Indy Racing League.
Taylor: Thank you very much.