An Interview with Tomas Scheckter and Steve Page Indy Racing League Teleconferene Transcript August 20, 2008 MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us on today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have three guests today. Joining us in a few...
An Interview with Tomas Scheckter and Steve Page
Indy Racing League Teleconferene Transcript
August 20, 2008
MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us on today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have three guests today. Joining us in a few minutes will be Steve Page, president of Infineon Raceway and IndyCar Series driver Tomas Scheckter.
We're joined by Infineon Raceway President Steve Page and IndyCar Series driver Tomas Scheckter. The IndyCar series does return to Sonoma for its fourth appearance at Infineon Raceway, the Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Grand Prix of Sonoma County.
Tomas Scheckter is entered in the event after a brief layoff. He'll be driving for Luczo Dragon Racing's No. 12 Honda-powered Dalara.
Steve, a question for you. The unification of open wheel racing under the IndyCar Series banner has brought a lot of new excitement this year. Are you seeing that same excitement evident on the West Coast?
No question. The series has good momentum. Ticket sales are up. The fact we've got the stars from both series now and a much fuller grid. I think we've got 26 cars on the track this week. There's a lot of buzz in the marketplace right now.
Q: And I understand there's a slightly altered layout for the racetrack this weekend?
STEVE PAGE: Yeah, we have the advantage -- we have several different potential configurations of the racetrack that we can use for different series. And we also have a drag strip that runs right up the middle.
We've looked at the dynamics of the racing over the last couple of years and worked with Brian Barnhart on an idea and a little twist which is to take -- we have a small kink in the straightaway coming out of the carousel, coming out of Turn 6 going into Turn 7. We've taken that out.
And we'll have the Indy cars run all the way up to the end of the drag strip, which makes it a straighter, longer straightaway, a hard braking zone and a tighter corner going into Turn 7. And we think it might shake up the competition this weekend.
MODERATOR: Steve, I understand you may have a question for Tomas.
STEVE PAGE: Actually, that was my question. Tomas was one of the drivers that had a chance to come out and test last week. Tomas, you've had a lot of experience on this track in an Indy car. I'm curious to get your feedback on how different it was to use that new Turn 7 configuration.
It was certainly different. Initially, it felt very tight. But I think exactly like you said, you guys have been thinking about the racing and how it's going to change. Certainly there's no room for error there, because your braking has to be perfect. And if it is a little bit late, you get lock-up and you almost miss the corner completely.
And certainly when you come from a long straight into a type of braking area that allows for different cars that can brake a little bit later or a little bit earlier to get some passing going there, and hopefully increases some passing moves and causes a good race.
MODERATOR: Tomas, it has been a while since we've seen you in an Indy car. I think it was Texas the last time you raced with us, and now you're doing the last three races in the season. How have you been preparing yourself to get back into a car?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Just working out. Just a lot of working out. It's been tough, especially with this coming together. But a great opportunity with a great team here and super sponsors.
We're down -- actually, after we did the test, we went to Symantec headquarters and spoke briefly with John Thompson and a lot of the employees had both cars out there. There's a lot of excitement there. And I think you'll see a lot of people from Symantec up here at the race.
Keeping my head up. I've got a great team and great sponsors. Working out and spending time with them and looking forward to the next time I'll be back in the car again.
Q: After running so many full-time seasons doing a selected program, is it frustrating sometimes sitting there watching?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Yeah, it is. And parts of it is being extremely frustrating and parts of it's been sort of good. I enjoyed the summer. But certainly my heart is wanting to be in the Indy car.
And it's certainly -- it's been tough when you switch on the TV and you see the cars going around. Like I said, it's been tough. I knew it was going to be tough before. And I made those sacrifices when I put my name on the contract to know there was going to be a good future with this team and certainly moving forward.
Again, we've added races to the schedule. We'll be doing the last three and hopefully we'll get a full program sorted out for next year.
Q: Tomas, my question is primarily about your time off in between the races. You said you're watching the races. Where do you watch them from? Are you in the States? The UK? South Africa?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: I suppose I'm a bit everywhere. I think the last race I was down in London, and I was in Monaco for a little bit and then back here. I've spent some time with the family.
My dad (former F1 champion Jody Scheckter) is actually on his way, I think today or tomorrow, back to South Africa. And it's just been a bit everywhere. And it's really me trying to train and make sure that I focus on the right things and not just be at home and thinking about that I should be there. So I've been a little bit everywhere.
Q: As far as your training goes, obviously you're doing a lot of time in the gym. I presume you're doing a lot of muscle work, neck work, that type of stuff. But as far as actual driving goes, do you have any simulator games or anything like that you can more or less keep yourself brushed up on with different tracks?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Yes, we have some simulators I've got just at home that are computer systems that are actually very accurate and they're getting more and more accurate as time goes along.
But I do a lot of karting as well. I've got a garage at the kart track in Indianapolis. I was doing some races at the beginning of the year. And that seems to be very good. But there's no time. And we also have to understand that it's a brand new team. We did a great job in Indy. We ran pretty much up front the whole day until we had the drive shaft failure towards the end.
But to come to a road course, road courses, you know, I can suck it up on ovals and make sure it's good. But a road course, it's so different where we've got so many different corners, so many different braking zones and so many things to change in the car. It's going to take us time to get this car right.
We had a decent test. But realistic terms, if we can qualify somewhere in the top 15, we'll be extremely happy. I think it's work in progress. We're going to come away with learning a lot and moving on to the other road courses.
Q: I'm sure you're happy to roll with that considering your background that you have as far as road courses go and the experiences you have on those?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Yes. It's different here. Again, what I've done in Europe, whether it was in Formula Three or Formula 3000, completely different tracks and different cars. It's been a long time ago. I've been doing a lot of ovals. But certainly I can bring back on a lot of that experience I've had and carry on working, working here with it. I appreciate some South African journalists calling. It's not often do I get to speak to South African journalists. And I appreciate you calling.
Q: As far as your dad goes, how much input does he give you into your driving as far as tips and that type of thing goes?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: You know, he managed me back when I was in England. And eventually we decided that I'll get different management. And from that day on it's been a lot better because otherwise everything we spoke about was racing. We didn't even say good morning to each other. We just said it was just racing, racing. And right now he's my dad and we speak about my well-being or everything and it's not so much driving.
Certainly we do speak about stuff, but he's normally against speaking about racing, because I think when he was driving he didn't want someone to go and tell him how to drive. And so he doesn't really tell me how to drive. We more speak about the whole team and stuff that's going on with the team and engineering side of the car than just driving.
Q: Tomas, this adds on to the other question about your test at Infineon last week. How does it feel to get back into the car, and do you feel it will give you an advantage coming up on the race on Sunday?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: There were a lot of teams out here. It's been a struggle trying to get testing. We've just not been able to get it. And there's certainly rule changes. And we've been begging and begging the IRL to get as much testing as possible. And it's not been possible. So we got it one day but there were another 12 cars out there as well.
So certainly it will give us help, absolutely. Our first day, we did five laps. We had so many problems with everything and that's what we expected with a brand new car and a brand new team. And the second day for us we got some more laps in. It will still take us to get everything right on the car. But it's a step in the right direction, but we need another four or five of those days and I think we'll be a lot better.
MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us and best of luck this weekend.