IRL: Greg Ray press conference, part II

Indy Racing League May 27, 2003 Part 2 of 2 Greg Ray Q: Over the years you have always struck me as a person who is very methodical about what they do. I guess I go back to the adage of sometimes it is best to be slower in order to be...

Indy Racing League
May 27, 2003

Part 2 of 2

Greg Ray

Q: Over the years you have always struck me as a person who is very methodical about what they do. I guess I go back to the adage of sometimes it is best to be slower in order to be quicker. Is that a pretty correct assessment of you? And is that the way you're building the team?

Ray: I do not think that would be most people's assessment from years past. I think my driving on the racetrack has always been fairly aggressive.

Q: Well, I do not guess I was saying on the racetrack, but I am talking about in your preparation for race and how you have handled your career.

Ray: I think just getting to the point where I am at today, after starting at age of 25, I have had to be pretty analytical and methodical just to have the opportunity. A lot of times, by the time drivers are 22, 23 years old, they have either made it and gone on to stardom or something, or they have been given the opportunity and they kind of fade away. So for me to kind of come out of left field with absolutely no experience or knowledge of the sport at such a late age to find my way into doing something I have dreamed about, I guess I had to be somewhat methodical, but lucky, and blessed to be with the right people. But certainly, on this team the thing that makes it different with my approach, I think, is that in the years past, obviously, winning was the number-one goal. And, I think I definitely made mistakes, both in driving and maybe what I wanted with the setup or the pressure. I even put blame on myself now because we are young and we are growing and we have such a close-knit group of people and we are trying to make something and we are trying to keep our operation, both financially and with risk-taking, on a track beyond the threshold. The key thing is not how much success we achieve quickly, but it is how many mistakes we avoid getting to where we are going right now. And, so far that approach for our team has paid dividends. I think it is spectacular to come right out of the box in this day and age in the Indy Racing League with the newest, youngest, least-budgeted team and have two top-10 finishes. And, I think from a team ownership standpoint, we are very, very proud of that. As a driver I am definitely chomping at the bit because I know we have so much more to offer.

Q: You mentioned starting at a late age. What a lot of people either forget or don't know is this was not your initial career path.

Ray: I dreamed of this for many, many years, like I think all people who are racing fans. I dreamed about it as a kid and always wanted to do it but just really never had the avenue to do it. And my parents were very protective, very loving. They are still my best friends, but they just didn't look at that as reality but didn't want me to get hurt as a child with go-karts or mini-bikes and jet skis and those kinds of things. So I just really never had the availability or the place to do it as a child to even see if I was even any good at it. And it was only after business and some other successes allowed me to kind of reassess my life and kind of reflect that life is short, you should be doing exactly what you wanted to do, and I dreamed about doing it for so long that I just decided to go try it. And luckily for me, I jumped in and really took to it like a duck in the water. I won two Formula 2000 championships and one Atlantic championship and just kind of moved my way up one step at a time because, again, at that point I was trying to assess for myself if I had the desire and ability and/or just the combination of what it took to go to the next level. We have had good days and bad days, but I still very much love being involved with racing.

Q: It's that methodical approach, right?

Ray: I think it probably is. I think it is the just consistency and I think, I almost hate to admit this, but one of the key things that I am focusing on right now is my involvement has brought a lot of intensity and a lot of focus. And Eddie Cheever walked up to me, I think it was either 2000 or 2001, and obviously he and I have had a few run-ins together, but he walked up to me one day and we were talking and he said: "It seems like your intensity isn't there, your focus isn't there. You guys you could just feel the intensity just coming out of your skin and looking in your eyes, it looks like you have lost that." And I think he's right. When it becomes just something you do, you are not going to be good at it. You have to live it, you have to breath it, you have to sleep it, you have to want it, you have to dream it and you have to prepare for it. You have to work harder than anybody else for it, and I have sort of readopted that right now, and I think it is going to pay dividends.

Q: We appreciate it, Greg. Thanks.

Q: You talked about putting a team together with your several principals and starting out in November, and given Penske, Ganassi, Menard and the like, is it still possible in 2003 to have a successful program without having that huge infrastructure behind you?

Ray: Well, there is no doubt that they have advantages in every. If you have 20 categories, they have an advantage in at least 19. I think with Jeff Britton as my engineer and Jamie Nanny as my crew chief and Ted Bitting and myself, we have a very unique chemistry, and we have a lot of desire and we have a lot of faith in each other. And that is intangible. It is hard to measure that. So, I would say in at least one category we have as much or more of that than anybody. But when it comes down to the financial part, obviously we signed on TrimSpa, which is a fantastic sponsor for us. We were working on that becoming a larger and more long-term program. It is a great company that has a patented diet pill out there that is growing by leaps and bounds in public acceptance. They are a very high-profile company. I would have to say that the TrimSpa girls made a huge impact at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May. I think there are a lot of things that just brought a lot of attention to our program, and it is very exciting. But yes, we still only have one car. We do have Honda motors, which I think are the absolute best motors out there. But that is a clear choice that we made and are very happy and honored to be running their motors. But from a financial standpoint, from the amount of people we have, from a platform in many capacities, yes, we are at a big deficit. We are at deficit because we haven't had the testing time these other teams have had. We do not have much racing experience this year with these new cars. And we just don't have the depth. We don't have the counter-measures and insurance and the financial ability to build those if, what, but scenarios into our program. Yes, I mean, its a long answer to your question, we have the ability to have a very successful season. We have the ability to win races this year but we have to get it right and we have to get it right the first time. More so than getting it right, we have to avoid making mistakes.

Q: Terrific. Thank you and best wishes.

Ray: Thank you.

Q: I was just wondering, Greg, how the whole sponsorship with TrimSpa actually came about?

Ray: It is pretty unique. Obviously, Crazy Cabbie is part of our team. He actually lost 100 pounds using TrimSpa, and he was a pretty energetic. He became an unofficial spokesperson for them because he believed in the product so much. Obviously, we signed on EDS, which I have had as a sponsorship for many, many years. They have been a very loyal supporter. And we signed on Panasonic Toughbook Computers, but compared to the big teams, we are still very, very tiny. But we had discussions with TrimSpa, and we knew they were involved in motorsports, and they are a very high-profile company. But we believed in our program and we believed in their product and how perfect those marriages would be together that we actually ran them on the car at Japan and we had no deal, we hadn't signed anything. And they were happy and excited about our program. They didn't commit to us, but we still thought they would be such a perfect partner. We believed in their product so much that we took a gamble and rolled the dice on putting them on the car. We had garnered more support and enthusiasm among the company and the corporate crowd and certainly how it is going, and we are still kind of on a 'Let's take it and see how it goes" type of situation. But again, I think if we dot our I's and cross our T's and perform well, I think we can have a big impact with their company, and I think in return they can have a huge impact with our race team.

Q: Thank you, Greg. Good luck with the rest of your season.

Ray: Thank you.

K. Johnson: Greg, our next event takes place at Texas Motor Speedway. You grew up and live about 30 miles from there. Tell us a bit, if you will, about what that facility has brought to the Dallas/Fort Worth market and North Texas in general.

Ray: Certainly. I think whether it is open-wheel racing or NASCAR racing, I think people always say that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world's capital of motor sports. And from a historic standpoint that is absolutely true. But the Texas Motor Speedway is just a mile-and-a-half racetrack that holds 200,000 people. It is the finest state-of-the-art facility anywhere in the country, because it is a high-banked oval and because the way the grandstands are shaped, in a very much surrounding-theater style, every seat in the house can see the whole racetrack. Between the Speedway Club and all the suites and the Turn 2 Penthouses and the Texas hospitality, I mean it definitely rates as -- I mean, I have to put it this way - everybody wants to win the Indy 500 because of what it means historically. But from a fun perspective and from a fan fun perspective and a driver fun perspective, everybody wants to go to the Texas Motor Speedway. It is just a great facility to race at. It is a great facility to spectate from. And again, with the warm Texas hospitality, it has just meant a great deal to Indy-style racing and racing in general in the entire Texas area.

K. Johnson: Well, Greg, we certainly appreciate you taking the time to join us today. Congratulations on your performance this weekend and best of luck throughout the remainder of the IndyCar Series schedule.

Ray: Yes, thank you for having me on and very much appreciate being part of the Indy Racing League. And once again, I want to congratulate Gil de Ferran and Team Penske for doing a wonderful job, as they do always. Again, I cannot think of a better ambassador for our sport and the Indy 500 champion as Gil de Ferran has done. He is a great family man. He is very honorable and he is a great race car driver. And, on another note, obviously the Indy 500 was the last race for Michael Andretti, and he and his father have meant so much to the sport of racing. His name is known the world over, and we will all miss him from the cockpit, but still very happy to be able to call him a competitor in pit lane.

-irl-

Part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti
Teams Team Penske