IRL: Fisher, Lewis press conference, part II

Sarah Fisher, John Lewis Part 2 of 2 Q: Sarah, my question is last year early in the season you were without a ride. Did you ever dream that after you got the opportunity at Nazareth, that seven months later you'd be appearing in Japan and ...

Sarah Fisher, John Lewis
Part 2 of 2

Q: Sarah, my question is last year early in the season you were without a ride. Did you ever dream that after you got the opportunity at Nazareth, that seven months later you'd be appearing in Japan and be racing the following April in Japan?

S. Fisher: Still it's not secure that I'll be in Japan next year, as I don't have my deal signed yet. But it's very positive for me, so I can still be happy over the winter. I'm in a better place than I was last year. But it's just a dream come true for me as a driver, because I'm the typical American short-track oval person who came along and got the opportunity, and then has managed to stay afloat, and so as long as I can stay afloat that's as long as I'll race.

Q: John, how many cars will they take over there, each team, and are you going to limit the number of teams?

J. Lewis: That's all contractually governed by weight. If you're asking me what I think, I'm guessing most two-car teams will take four cars, that way they have a backup, but I don't think they all will. I think a team like Andretti Green, that's going to field three entries, may take five cars instead of six, just because that's less they have to take and ship. I'm planning right now, and I'm basing all my numbers -- I would like to take, I'd like to field 30 cars over there. I'm going to try and base my numbers off somewhere between 26 and 30, so that's what I'm working off at this point.

Q: To get 30, are you limited or everybody that will go over there will race, right?

J. Lewis: Yes, we govern that by pit lane length, and I think they had 31 pit stalls there; big pit stalls, too. It was nice.

Q: Where will you fly out of, Indianapolis, with the equipment and everything or will it be flown out of somewhere else?

J. Lewis: The equipment will be flown on two 747-charter planes. Again, that's Nippon Cargo Airlines out of Indianapolis directly to Narita. The personnel will fly out of Chicago so that's, generally speaking, ANA.

Q: Is that Narita?

J. Lewis: Narita.

Q: Is that near Tokyo?

J. Lewis: Yes, it's just outside Tokyo. The personnel is scheduled to fly out of Chicago, and there are four gateway cities that ANA, that's All Nippon Airways, operates out of. That's New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and LAX. I think Sarah and Lisa flew out of San Francisco. The rest of our crew flew out of DC.

Q: And they'll fly on that airline.

J. Lewis: Yes.

Q: What's the name of it again?

J. Lewis: It's ANA, All Nippon Airways.

K. Miller: While we're waiting for some more questions, John, is there anything specific that you know of, a good example of something you can't take because it's overseas? I'm thinking maybe something along the lines of safety equipment or something that you might use from the track where normally we would take ourselves?

J. Lewis: Aerosol. You cannot take aerosol products to Japan. That's the biggest one that jumps out.

K. Miller: What about other larger equipment like our safety trucks, things like that; will we use what's from Japan, from Twin Ring Motegi or will we take our own stuff?

J. Lewis: No, I've got to ship them. 8,000 pounds each.

K. Miller: Sarah, can you elaborate a bit on the culture over there? When you were there, first of all, was that your first trip to Japan?

S. Fisher: Yes, it was my first trip, and no, we didn't get to see a lot of anything but Twin Ring Motegi. We flew in right from the SEMA show where I just did appearances for SmartBlade and Raybestos, so we flew straight to Japan, and as soon as I got there I was up in the two-seater after a night of sleep so we didn't get to go to Tokyo of do any of those things. So I really didn't get a feel for what Japan is all about, but I did get to see where Twin Ring Motegi is at. I got a feel for those people, who are very, very appreciative. The Japanese folks, once they get to know you and know that you're a good person, they treat you with the utmost respect. I love the food, and I love everything about it, and I'm really looking forward to going back in April.

K. Miller: Will the time change or the jetlag affect you physically as a race-car driver, and how will you combat that?

S. Fisher: Not going over, going over is fine for me. It's just coming back that hurt me this time. My flight from San Francisco to Chicago, I think I was just on a plane with some bad germs or something and caught a cold or the flu. But going over to Japan is not bad as far a jetlag as long as you can arrive at a time that you can get onto their schedule immediately, which we did. On the third day it gets grudging, so hopefully we can go over a bit earlier and do some media and public relations stuff for the race.

Q: This is for both of you. How did you work with the interpreters? Were they pretty good, and do you think you'll know a few more words in Japanese by the time you go over in April?

J. Lewis: Yes, obviously, there's a delay. It's like you've got to hear everything twice. But this goes back to Ron's first question that he asked me. The American influence in Japan is much, much greater than what I ever anticipated. Sarah didn't get to go away from the racetrack too much, but there is English everywhere. I was looking out my hotel room the first night I got there, and the first thing I noticed was across the street it says, Parking Garage. And I'm thinking to myself, there is nowhere in America where Parking Garage is written in Japanese. So with regard to translators, the staff I worked with, and Sarah worked with a lot of the same people, they understand what you're saying, and they comprehend it. Most of them could read English, but a lot of them just didn't speak it. But we were always surrounded by a group, so having a translator or finding a translator or waiting for a translator to me was no problem at all.

S. Fisher: As far as working with the translators went, that was wonderful. I had two wonderful translators that worked with me for the those three days that I was there, and they word it word-for-word, everything you say. One of them, I forget her name, it's hard for me to pronounce, but she took notes on what I was saying and then would refer to her notes and translate it back on the interviews. The only thing that was difficult for me is I'm not a very patient person. So you're sitting there for one interview, one interview normally takes 30 to 45-minutes, because everything that's said is repeated a couple times between the Japanese media person and the driver between the interpreter. It makes it a bit more difficult, a bit more time consuming. But I think the patience that the people have for our activities in Japan, it really shows in that aspect, too, because they're very focused and they're willing to sit there just as long as our drivers are to get through interviews.

Q: One other thing, John, what about the family members of teams if they want to go over? How will that be handled?

J. Lewis: Each team gets an allotment of tickets per entrant, and then there's a deal with ANA, they're the Official Airline Carrier, that price point, which I don't know, but that price point will be offered to teams wishing to buy additional tickets. So your first 20 are carried. If you had 16-crew members and wanted to list a spouse or a friend or something on that list of 20, you can do so. If you needed to get 22 tickets, your next two tickets that you would have to purchase are at that same rate of what the first 20 were provided. So I think that's a pretty fair deal with regard to teams wanting to make additional accommodations. They won't have to go through a different travel agent and try and find a different rate or different time. The travel agency is arranged by Twin Ring Motegi, which handled Sarah's and my trip the first time will take care of additional personnel as well if teams choose to do that.

Q: Sarah, you say you haven't got anything signed for next year; you're working on it. With the influx of more teams and everything coming into the 2003 season, is it making it harder to put a deal through or is it easier?

S. Fisher: I would say there's no difference yet. I think once that they come and compete then it's going to be different. For myself as a driver, I don't think sponsorship hunting-wise it makes it any more difficult, but certainly securing a ride without having a sponsor back is much more difficult. But I would say in the end, there are a lot of drivers that are going to be coming in and out, and will be leaving the series too, so there will be much more room at that time.

Q: A question for John, occasionally we have some Japanese drivers at the Indy 500, do you see any one-offs, as they say, drivers in Japan wanting to run the Motegi race by themselves?

J. Lewis: We talked about that internally, that's a good question. Right now I don't, but it may be something that I'll have to address. The equipment still has to go so the teams are going to be governed by the same guidelines. But with regard to a driver doing a one-off in Japan, I'd probably just have to deal with that if the occasion arises.


Fisher, Lewis press conference, part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , John Lewis