Continued from part 1 Q: It sounds like you're OK physically, but you're asking yourself, "Do I really want to do this again?" Are you talking about, as you said, the commitment to test, travel, just get back into that grind again? Is ...
Continued from part 1
Q: It sounds like you're OK physically, but you're asking yourself, "Do I really want to do this again?" Are you talking about, as you said, the commitment to test, travel, just get back into that grind again? Is that weighing on your mind as much as anything else?
KENNY BRACK: Well, when I say I really want to do this, I'm going at that from a standpoint of, you know, I started from zero again pretty much a year ago, since the accident. I had to rebuild the whole body and everything, go through everything. I know that it's going to take me a little bit of time to get up to speed. I'm not worried that I can't do that until the beginning of next season.
But there's a lot of work involved in this business if you're going to go at it from the perspective of being very competitive. I'm not interested in being somebody that runs around just to be there. I'm interested in being there, being competitive, trying to win races. You just have to ask yourself all these questions: Are you prepared to put in all that work? Can you do it from a physical standpoint? Stuff like that. Those are questions that you really have to be very clear about when you make a decision to race because if you're not clear on that, I don't believe that you make yourself the best possible platform for doing the results.
Q: The fact that the IRL is adding two road courses and a street race next year, has that piqued your interest, maybe make you want to come back a little more?
KENNY BRACK: I don't think it changes my decision in any way. I think it's very positive for the IRL to go to road courses and particularly street courses because you bring the product to the fans. There are many fans in big cities, so you bring the product there. I think that's going to be very good for the series.
I obviously enjoy driving on road courses, you know. I've been very competitive there in the past, when I raced in Europe in Formula 3000 and CART, won races. It's a little different atmosphere when you race in a town or a street course than on an oval. But both disciplines have their charm. So to end up in a situation where you have a mixed championship consisting of ovals and road courses, I think that's a very positive thing.
Q: Looking at the changes the IRL made to the cars over the winter, then we've only had the Buddy Rice incident where he got upside down, when you saw him get upside down, what did that make you think? Did they improve the cars in the direction they needed to go?
KENNY BRACK: Well, the No. 10 car and the No. 15 car seem to have a problem running around each other. I can't really say why and how those things happen. All I know is that when you're travelling at 220 mph, there are risks involved. I mean, anybody can figure that one out. It just depends on how things go. I mean, 95-99 percent of all the incidents that happen on an oval, drivers and everybody walks away uninjured. There's always that chance, that percent or whatever, where you end up on the other side of the coin, which I did, and others have done before me in various series of racing around the world, where you get hurt or even worse.
But those things you have to be prepared, as a driver, to take those risks. I know that the organizations, especially the IRL, work very hard at safety. They've come up with a SAFER wall. They do these changes to cars to try to keep them on the ground, to try to slow them down with smaller engines. And then the teams and the engineers and the engine manufactures, they work the other side of the coin to try to make the most speed out of things.
I think the IRL keeps a good eye on what's going on and try to keep speeds under control. But having said all that, there are risks to this type of racing. This type of racing is probably the most risky racing there is, and you've got to be aware of it. That's just the nature of this racing.
Q: Didn't you live in Houston those two years?
KENNY BRACK: That's right.
Q: People in Dallas will tell you that's not living in Texas, that's living in Houston.
KENNY BRACK: If you talk to A.J. (Foyt), that is Texas (laughter).
Q: Have you watched any races this year and gone to yourself, "That's crazy stuff you guys are doing out there"? Has it changed at all your perspective, having gone through what you've gone through, then watched some of this high-speed stuff, almost thrill shows that these guys put on sometimes with the side-by-side stuff?
KENNY BRACK: This type of racing, the IRL on the one hand is great for the fans because it's extremely exciting racing. You never know who's going to win. On the one coin you have people that complain about Formula 1 and other type of racing where they say, "There's never any overtaking, dull, boring, one car wins everything." Then you have the IRL where you have a really, really extremely competitive show, but the downside to it is that you're running close, running wheel-to-wheel. The slightest mistake or a technical malfunction, whatever, you have yourself a wild ride to look forward to before you stop.
Like I said earlier, most of the time you walk out of there uninjured. Sometimes you have a few bruises. But there's the one chance that you get hurt real seriously, too.
But it really hasn't changed my perspective on it. I have been aware of the risks before I had my accident. I'm as aware of the risks now as I was before. So it hasn't really changed my perspective. I think all the drivers know the risks that this type of racing means.
Q: When you've been doing that most of your life, suddenly you sit out for a year, are you missing the adrenaline rush of a near-miss, close calls, things like that? Is what you miss the competition part?
KENNY BRACK: I don't think anybody misses the near-miss situations, whatever you call them. I don't think anybody really wants to be in those situations. However, that's the nature of this type of racing, that you're going to run close and it's going to sometimes be closer than you want to.
But what I miss is the competition part, is the challenge to try to win races and to work with the team to make the team and the car and that whole environment the best there is. That's what I miss.
Q: Where are you going to test in November? Do y'all know yet? Is it going to be Homestead?
KENNY BRACK: No, I don't think Homestead because that track now is more like a superspeedway, flat out. I want to find out where I'm at physically. Again, I want to go to a track where it's a driver's track where you really have to work hard, put your body through all the toughest possible physical conditions. We haven't decided what track yet, but there will be a track like that.
Q: The Richmond deal, when you left that test, you were competitive in the car time-wise, but was it just you found you did not have the stamina?
KENNY BRACK: It was two things. First of all, before the test, I really thought that I would be OK to drive. I probably would have been OK to drive perhaps at a superspeedway like Michigan, Fontana (Calif.), Kentucky, where it's not that physical. But after the test there, I just felt that I am not strong enough when it comes to stamina to drive these cars, and strength.
Also, the other part was I didn't feel that I was strong enough in my body if something goes wrong and you whack the wall. I mean, you can have a puncture, you can make a mistake. Whatever happens, you whack the wall. You got to really feel strong.
The way I've always felt like a cat, I've said this before, but I felt like a cat. You can throw me out the window of the third floor and I will land on my feet, I will be OK. But at that point, it felt like I probably won't land on my feet. It felt like I wasn't ready for that type of abuse.
You can always argue it's not going to happen. But any driver knows in any type of racing that if you do 15 to 20 races a year, you're going to whack the wall once or twice. There's no way about that. You've just got to be strong enough to deal with those situations. I didn't feel I was at the time.
Q: Talking about places to test, would you be willing to come back to Texas and test?
KENNY BRACK: Well, I could. I could, but it's just that that's the track in the initial part of this thing, it's not the type of track I'm looking for. Again, Texas is a superspeedway where you run flat out all the way around the track. It's not as physical as some of the other tracks, for example, Richmond and the one-mile ovals that the series races on.
So the first stage I would probably try to go to a track where I put myself through the toughest possible situation.
Maybe you're referring to Texas track in terms of a racing track. But when I'm going to go test, there's not going to be 20 cars around me, so it's not going to be a race environment. It's going to be one car only on the track. If you look at it from that perspective, Texas isn't giving you all the grooving situations that you will have.
So in the first instance, I will not go to Texas, I don't think.
Q: You don't have a commitment right now from Rahal, from Bobby, for a full season next year, is that right?
KENNY BRACK: Well, that's correct because nobody knows whether I'm going to be driving yet or not. That makes sense from a team standpoint. That makes sense from a driver standpoint, as well.
Q: Sponsor, too, I suppose?
KENNY BRACK: Yes.
Q: In light of the championship, Tony (Kanaan) wrapping it up already, was there any surprise to you that Tony did so well this year?
KENNY BRACK: I think, obviously, I raced against Tony I don't know how many years in CART and all that stuff. He's always been a fierce competitor, very competent driver, competitive. I think the Andretti Green team has tremendous resources, and the biggest component of all is the engine. The Honda engine obviously has been extremely strong this year. So in terms of all that, I think it's logical that Tony turned out to be the strongest competitor for the championship.
However, I think that there were other teams and drivers that were nearly as good as him. Dan Wheldon, for example, Buddy Rice, all the teams that had a Honda engine this year really had a chance to fight for the championship. But Tony ended up taking it home and I'm happy for it. He's worth it. He's worked hard and he's a very competitive driver.
Q: I know that you were having a small child right when this all occurred. How does your wife feel about you going back to racing? How have you been able to spend time with your new child this year?
KENNY BRACK: I mean, no bad things for that, it brings something good with it, I think the saying goes. This as well.
I've been able to spend a lot of time with our daughter. I've enjoyed it. Hopefully she has, too. So that's been very good. Well, my wife, I guess if she had it her way, maybe she'd prefer me not going back to racing. But she also supports my decision and she's behind me whatever I want to do in terms of this. I don't see that that's going to influence a decision.
MODERATOR: Thanks so much for letting us take some of your time today. We'll see you this weekend at Texas.
KENNY BRACK: Thanks a lot.