An interview with Kevin Kalkhoven THE MODERATOR: We'll start with Mr. Mike Harris. Q: Can you just give us some reflections on the final Champ Car race? KEVIN KALKHOVEN: The good news is it's not the final Long Beach Grand Prix because,...
An interview with Kevin Kalkhoven
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with Mr. Mike Harris.
Q: Can you just give us some reflections on the final Champ Car race?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: The good news is it's not the final Long Beach Grand Prix because, of course, the Council has just extended it for another 10 years. During that period there have been different technologies involved, and obviously with mixed emotions today. I mean, I'm very proud of the DP 01, but I'm also looking forward to the future which is the future of open-wheel motorsport here in North America.
I think it's been great to see some of these Champ Car drivers like Will. Will got second place in qualifying at Homestead and then completely screwed up because of the rain. No, we screwed up his entire strategy (laughing).
You know, it's mixed emotions, but we look forward, and it's been a great, great weekend. The crowds have been fantastic. You ladies and gentlemen of the press have been incredibly warm and generous to both our team and to the series, so I want to thank you.
Q: Kevin, talk about the race itself as you put on your hat as owner of the racetrack, the facility. Tell us, those crowds that you saw yesterday and what you think about the entire festival here.
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Well, Long Beach is a crown jewel in every sense. Not only is it one of the oldest motor races in the world, consecutive events, it's really just an original street racing event. It's proven that over the last 34 years and will continue to prove it over the next at least 10.
As a team owner well, as an owner of the circuit, the crowds were just fantastic, and it was really interesting to me just walking around not just the race but the exhibition center, seeing the interest in the green exhibits and things like that. It's the future of this kind of event is to bring in all aspects of the motoring environment.
As a team owner, the race was at least one hour too long, and I don't think I breathed at all in the last 10 minutes. And in talking to Will, he was so cool and so calm, and we said Montagny is coming after you, and it was, "Oh, OK." For me it was desperate. But what a way to go, and I'm so proud of this young man on my right and I'm proud of the team because we got three cars in the top 10, and that's hard to do.
Q: Kevin, can you imagine or can you take us back to were you aware that this long, strange trip would take you from co owner of the series to finally having one series again in the United States?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: It has been a long trip, and it's not been without its ups and downs, of course. But in the final analysis, what we've done is for the best interests of both the fans and North American open wheel sport. I can say that there's been a lot of goodwill on both sides. In fact, Tony George is in my hospitality right now drinking my booze without me. The quicker we get this over with, the better (laughing).
No, it's been a long and interesting journey, but I honestly, honestly believe that this is really only the start. We have a lot of work to do in the schedule; we have a lot of work to do in the car for 2010.
We have a lot of work to do in publicizing the great young drivers, having Graham Rahal who did a wonderful job at Homestead, Will who's been a fantastic job here, Danica winning yesterday. These are all new names to a lot of the motor racing fraternity. But they're names that are going to be around for a long time, and they're names that I think will help build the credibility of open wheel sport for a long time to come.
Q: Kevin, we spoke a couple hours ago. You look like a new man right now. You look like you could go out and run the circuit a couple laps. What has the victory done for you right now?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Well, I've still got the same six broken ribs and punctured lung I had two hours ago, but I will say that the victory keeps the adrenaline pumping. But the great thing was for the team. You know, these are guys who nobody really believed could have won both in IndyCar and in Champ Car and do it in essentially three races and produce competitive cars at St. Petersburg and obviously a winning car here.
Part of my vitalization, revitalization, if you like, is just looking in the eyes of these young men and women and just seeing the happiness they have.
Q: Kevin, all of your guys that I've spoken with that were Champ Car last year and now running IRL have said how much better the DP-01 is than the Dallara. As things go forward, is there a possibility of the Dallara well, the DP-01 taking the place of the Dallara in the future?
KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Well, one of the great things about the unification is Tony Cotman, who helped very specifically in the development and the specification of the car itself, the DP-01, is now, of course, in the IRL race operations, and if anyone knows Tony, they'll know that he has very strong, very opinionated and very personal viewpoints about what's right and wrong in a car. I think you could look to see his influence in the car, particularly for 2010. We can't let the experience that we've had in developing the DP-01, both in terms of its effectiveness, in terms of its power and its cost effectiveness, that helps, too.
So Tony is there, and I would ask Tony that question because I'm sure he's got some very strong opinions.
I would like to thank all of you. It's been an interesting ride over the last couple of years, but you've all been incredibly supportive, even when things haven't been necessarily perfect. But we finally got to a unified series, and I hope that you'll realize that first of all, the last few years have been very important in learning, but also as we go forward, this is not the end, this is just the beginning, and we have a lot of hard work to do in developing venues, in developing young heroes and heroines, and in redeveloping open wheel North American sport, and I'm committed to it, and I'd like to thank you for all your support. Please recognize that it's only the start. Thank you.