Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript May 6, 2003 Bob Jenkins, Paul Page and Scott Goodyear Part 1 of 3 K. Johnson: Welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, May 6th. Today we will take a look...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
May 6, 2003
Bob Jenkins, Paul Page and Scott Goodyear
Part 1 of 3
K. Johnson: Welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, May 6th. Today we will take a look towards the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 with veteran ABC Sports Motorsports broadcasters Bob Jenkins, Paul Page and Scott Goodyear. Bob Jenkins is now in his second year as host of IRL IndyCara Series telecasts and has served as either host or anchor for a wide variety of auto racing circuits and events, including, the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar Series and IROC, NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series telecasts on ABC, ESPN as well as other events. Paul Page is certainly one of the most recognizable voices in motorsports and has covered a wide variety of racing series and events during his 26-year career, including, the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar Series, IROC and the NASCAR Winston Cup series. And Scott Goodyear, a two-time Indianapolis 500 runner-up is now in his second season as color analyst of IndyCar Series telecasts. Goodyear recorded 3 victories during his IndyCar Series career and placed second to Al Unser, Jr. in 1992 at Indianapolis in what was at that time and still is the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history. Gentlemen, welcome and thanks for joining us today.
Jenkins: Good to be here.
P. Page: Thank you.
S. Goodyear: Thank you.
K. Johnson: To start, there are so many compelling story lines leading up to this year's event. Let's start with Bob. One of the foremost stories, obviously, is that of Helio Castroneves who is making a bid to become the first driver to win three '500's in a row. If you can give us your perspective on what he has accomplished over the past two years here at the Speedway as well as his chances for a third straight '500' win this year.
B. Jenkins: Well, you know when the checkered flag dropped last year on the race and we had our repeat winner I thought to myself 'Wow, when next year rolls around this is going to be the story of the month.' I mean, we cannot top a story about a potential three-in-a-row winner. But by golly, I think we have other stories that have emerged and I am sure that we will talk about them as the time goes along; Michael's last race and several others. But I still think this does indeed have to be one of the top stories. We have never had a driver win three races in a row and I think it is extremely possible that we will see that this year. Helio Castroneves, I can remember for many years back as an also-ran in the pack, but since joining Team Penske he has just had an incredible record. And I did not think that he was going to win the race last year at some portions of the event, but when the white flag dropped and the checkered flag dropped there he was and I see no reason why he shouldn't be labeled as really the overall favorite for winning the race again. When you have a driver who is as talented as he is and when you have a team that is as strong as Marlboro Team Penske, you have a winning combination. I wonder right now, as I think about the last few laps of this race, what emotion there is going to be if indeed Helio is leading a race and people are anticipating the first three-time winner of the '500' and anticipating him climbing the fence, but then there is the other faction that says 'What happens if Michael Andretti is leading the race and we have the possibility of him, after so many years of being disappointed and unlucky at the Speedway, winning in his final event.' So I am anticipating so many good stories, but certainly the Andretti and Castroneves stories, as far as I am concerned, are the top ones as we are at this point of the month
K. Johnson: Well, Paul, moving on to you, Bob mentioned the name Andretti. The Indianapolis 500 has literally made the careers of many race drivers. This year, for the first time since 1993, the names Andretti, Foyt and Unser are all entered in the race. Give us your thoughts on this, especially with it being Michael's final year at the Speedway as a driver and Anthony Foyt's initial year in the '500'.
P. Page: Well, I think one of the things that originally attracted me to the Indianapolis 500 when I was a boy was the whole historical and traditional aspect of it. It is all about lineage. One of the beauties of this event is that, unlike Super bowl or World Series, the Olympics or any of those, the possible exception of the Derby, this is one of the few events that is actually held in the same location every year and the guy that goes down the straightaway to win it this year, or gal, is going to be going down the same straightaway that Ray Harroun did in 1911. So, lineage is so critically important and having names like Andretti and Unser and Foyt and watching those names go into second and third generations is unbelievable. Now that Michael, Bob already touched on it, the incredible story there and what if Michael does score an Andretti win in his last race and like Sam Hanks in 1957, pulls into winner circle and says, 'That is it. I am done.' What if Foyt IV comes up, and it has been done by rookies, Montoya did it, Graham Hill did it. What if he comes up with a win? I mean like you say, this event is so rift with great stories, I am so pumped about it.
K. Johnson: Scott Goodyear, back in 1995 you came oh-so-close to giving Honda a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now they are back, but they have some solid competition coming from Toyota and Chevrolet. Can you tell us something about the drive and determination that the manufacturers have in pursuing a victory in the '500'?
S. Goodyear: Well, I think that is going to be a large story this month, also. And I can tell you from my experience in '95 when I got involved with them that we did a fair amount of testing just at the Speedway getting ready for the '500'. And I thought that I really understood everything that they were doing, the dedication they seem to have and how they were singly-minded towards the '500'. But as I started to do some testing after the event, I can recall a time at Mid Ohio, probably in August, getting ready for the event there in September. We had been there for a couple of days testing and we were trying to improve the car, improve the motor and I went into the Honda trailer like I had done so many times before and sat in the front lounge with the engineers. We went over some things and were really trying to pinpoint one thing that was happening on the racetrack and they said, 'You know, for this we must go back and look at some data. And can you come with us?' So I come down and I walk down the lower part of the trailer and there are still some more people there with the computers, but then we went behind a little pocket door into the very back of the trailer, which I had never been to even as I started with them back in April, and there had been four engineers there watching the telemetry and watching the computers live as I am out there running, and I had never met these guys before. They must get there at 6:00 in the morning. When you leave at night they are still there. And I walked in there and I thought 'this is just another level of commitment that is here with these guys. And I am sure it has grown since then. The drive and the commitment from the Japanese manufacturers was overwhelming for me at that point in time and Chevrolet and Ford were involved in the series at that moment and I could see why they were getting success. And I guess I am not surprised to sort of see both Toyota and Honda come in this year and make a mark so quickly. And they really want to outdo each other. We talked about tha t on the Japanese telecast and I think that they will stop at nothing. And I am sure that both of them are trying to win this event for the first time as we thought we had done for them in '95. There is no doubt they are going to pull out all the stops and they have probably been preparing for this one race. It is probably more important than the whole season to them. It is more important than the first IRL win. It is the Indy 500.
K. Johnson: I want to reflect back and get some comments from something that Paul alluded to when he said, 'when the checkered flag falls for the guy or the gal who wins this race.' One of the big stories in sports this month is actually taking place in the world of golf, where Annika Sorenstam is attempting to compete against the men at Colonial. And many journalists are treating it like this is uncharted waters, but in our sport, Lyn St. James and right now Sarah Fisher have been doing this for years and doing it on a fairly even keel with everybody else. Let's start with Scott because you have competed against her. Give us your perspective on what Sarah has done.
S. Goodyear: I think it is tremendous because I know from sitting in the seat that it is a very tough environment to be in. Obviously, I do not understand the pressures that she may have on herself being the only female in the series at this point in time, but you think of how long she has been racing. It is the same as all of us that came up through go-karts and she went through midgets and those types of things before she got an opportunity to try Indy-style cars. And she is still very young but very experienced and I can think back to probably Kentucky, I think it was, in 2000. We are standing up on the podium and she is on the podium and she cannot sip the champagne because she is under age. So you think about that and realize how young she really is in a sport that has a lot of people with a lot of experience and a lot of veterans and she is doing a wonderful job. I think that once she knows, from a confidence point of view, that she has the whole season in front of her, if a package ever comes together then your mindset changes as a race driver. Then you start thinking about going off and just doing testing and practicing and getting ready for the events and focusing on training and working with your team. Right now, she is probably wearing the race hat come Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then wearing the sponsor's hat come Monday through Thursday and probably a little bit of that on the weekend. But you are not clear-minded in your commitment throughout the week as much as you think you are. And I have lived both sides of the fence. So I look forward to the day where she has a package together where maybe it is not only one year but maybe it is two years that she knows that she has a set ride, and then you are just working on the little things to improve for the next weekend because that is what everybody else is doing out there right now. All the top teams with their drivers, with their engineers have that relationship where it is small little steps to make a big difference on race weekend for next weekend and the weekend following. And right now you know they are basically assembling everything every time they get to the race track. So for her and the team, for Dennis Reinbold and the group, I hope that that all comes together for her soon.
K. Johnson: Now Paul, the same topic but if you could give us your perspective. Having been a mainstream journalist, come from that side of the fence as to what Sarah is doing here?
P. Page: Yes, I was kind of disappointed in that you only read the first of the twelve pages of my introduction. Having broadcast the America's Cup this year, I am going from the slowest competitors to the fastest. I think you have to remember that Sorenstam is a promotion. She has picked the one course that she can compete on. It is a good technical course and the women play well there. She is not going to play the PGA where she has to drive the long ball and all that. On the other hand, motorsports, and the Indy Racing League in particular, offers a level playing field for men and for women. Now, women have not traditionally taken advantage of that, but as more like Sarah enter in the lower ranks, down in the go-kart racing is certainly somewhere that you have to start to get to Indy when you are five or six and work your way up. But it does offer the level playing field for her. And I think that is something that maybe racing has not touted nearly enough. Yes, we used to run the 'powder puff' derbies, but there is nothing in the sport prevents a female like Sarah or like Lyn or like Desire Wilson or Janet Guthrie from climbing in the car and doing exactly what the men are doing and have nothing working against them when they do it. I am surprised there have not been more women up till now. But I am kind of, you know, I am not as impressed with the fact that Annika is going to go play on a course that she actually knows and has picked because she has the ability to do well there, because she certainly is not looking at the tour. Whereas Sarah has been and continues to look at the League and look for a championship and it is within her reach.
Q: This is addressed to any one who cares to respond to it or all three of you. As you might presume many of us make it our business to view television motorsports broadcasts when we are not somewhere covering them in person. I do not so much quarrel with the substance of these broadcasts as much as I do with the style, specifically with other broadcasting teams that sometimes murder its assaults on the English language. There are broadcast that sometimes come to the point where I have to remove the audio portion and just look at the visual part of it because the broadcasters are wallowing and they are hopefully there in terms of their 'awesomes', their windows of opportunities, their worse-case scenarios and so forth. My question is this, can you comment on broadcasting vernacular and on language qualities?
K. Johnson: Paul, why don't you start with that and then maybe Bob can follow-up.
P. Page: Well, I can only really speak to that relative to our own group and I hope I understand your question correctly. I think the approach that our team uses is something like the Indy 500 and all major racing events are covered more like you would a large news event. Bob hosts the thing and his job is to pull together all of these different reports coming from different people, and each of us working with Bob have a very defined role. I am often accused of hyperbole. I guess that probably is true, but I think what you are really seeing when you hear that from me is how much I really love this and I get excited about it and I get pumped about it. And I am normally fairly loud and outgoing person anyway. So I think the important thing is that I am not sitting there, nor is any of our team trying to come up with some fancy line. I'm not waiting to try to get this comment in the broadcast, or I am trying to say something that will help this or that group. I am trying to give an accurate picture of how the race gets from the start to finish. And each of our people have to accomplish the same thing. My job, if it is done correctly, is with the start of the program to give you some idea of what to look for, and then establish maybe four good story lines and then, hopefully if we picked them right, one of the story lines will play to a finish. There is a lot that you can do in a 500-mile race that you cannot accomplish in a 200-mile race. You may not recognize it sitting at home, but to an announcer it is entirely different animal. And in a 500-mile race you have a great deal of time to do a lot of things that you ordinarily cannot do or that we ordinarily cannot do. You have an opportunity to give a little time and attention to other individuals who would not normally get to the front of the field. A 200-mile race is just in time and in distance so short and happens so fast in the Indy Racing League that there is not a lot that can be done from my point of view other than saying, 'here is what is happening, here i s what could happen and here is how they got there.' And then, of course, the pit guys are going to give us their input and Scott is going to hopefully put the experts' view on that and then Bob is going to tie the whole thing together. I do not think any of us try to force anything in. I think we try to address those roles. One thing I am proud of is, with the exception of Scott, we all speak proper American. Scott, being a Canadian, will occasionally get an 'ah' in there.
S. Goodyear: Ah?
P. Page: Or, he will call it the hood a 'bonnet' and stuff like that. But other than those few failings, I think at least most of us have a high school education and show it. Did that answer your question? Was that where you were going?