An interview with Ana Beatriz Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript July 16, 2008 MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us ...
An interview with Ana Beatriz
Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript
July 16, 2008
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us today. Starting the call with us is Firestone Indy Lights driver Ana Beatriz, and joining us in a few minutes will be IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson. Good afternoon, Ana.
ANA BEATRIZ: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for inviting me again.
MODERATOR: Ana is a rookie in Firestone Indy Lights, driving the No. 20 Healthy Choice entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. She began her career in go-karts in Brazil and competed in Formula Renault, South American Formula 3 and A1GP before coming to the U.S. this season. So far this season she's recorded seven top-10 finishes in the first 10 races, led laps in three races, and last Saturday became the first woman to win in a Firestone Indy Lights race when she took the checkered at Nashville Superspeedway, and she currently ranks third in points.
Congratulations on a great season so far and on the victory on Saturday.
In the press conference after the race I know you were asked about the significance of the victory, being the first woman to win in Indy Lights, and I think obviously at the time with the victory being so fresh, you hadn't necessarily had a lot of time to think about it. Now that it's been a few days and maybe you've had a chance to reflect on things, is there a sense of significance to your victory?
ANA BEATRIZ: Yeah, like I didn't change much my idea. The win is so amazing for me because I came from Brazil and I had the opportunity for a driver bid that was given to me because I didn't have enough money, my family didn't have enough money, and they just had the confidence in my talent and they invested everything they could so I can continue my career, and they brought me to the U.S.
So the victory means that the confidence was right, that I had something, and we won our first race and it was just amazing.
So it meant a lot to me as a driver. I could see being the first female driver is a bonus. That's something really, really nice. But for me it means a lot winning as a rookie driver this year.
MODERATOR: You made the decision obviously to pursue your racing career here in the United States. What led you to come to the U.S. and what led you to Firestone Indy Lights?
ANA BEATRIZ: 2007 I didn't race. I did A1GP in Shanghai. I was the rookie driver of the Brazilian team at the time, and we tested in England, and we decided to test in the U.S. Andre Ribeiro, he drove for Penske in the '90s, and he knows a lot of people here. We just came and talked with Roger Bailey about the series and we were amazed about everything.
I loved the environment and American racing, I loved the environment in the Sam Schmidt team, and we could see a bright future for me here in America, and I think we were right.
MODERATOR: This is your first season racing on ovals, but you got off to a great start with a seventh at Homestead, finished fifth at Indy, third at Iowa, now of course you got the win at Nashville. Can you talk a little bit about the learning process for racing on ovals and how you've been able to adapt and succeed so quickly?
ANA BEATRIZ: Well, I think we started at Homestead and we got some point races that I did some mistakes; like Kansas we were fast and I didn't finish well in the race, and Milwaukee, and those races made me think a lot, learn a lot from my mistakes, and Sam Schmidt for sure helped me a lot.
We did a very good race in Indy, and I got my first podium in Iowa. I was just feeling the confidence, and Sam Schmidt continues to work hard, and I learn. And then Nashville, we won. It was just amazing. I'm really surprised that I won my first race on an oval.
MODERATOR: What are some of the specific nuances to it that you've had to pick up to learn how to race on ovals, as well?
ANA BEATRIZ: It's watching a lot of videos and look at a lot of data like from Alex Lloyd from last year, the way he drove the cars and why he was faster. It's just more the steering wheel, how you can scrap less speed and gain more speed in the exit of the corners. There's so much details, it's hard to explain. But I was getting all these things, and I put it together and I could learn it. And we finally did really well and won Nashville.
MODERATOR: The rest of the season there's two more races on ovals and then two road course double-header weekends. You're only about 40 points back in the points. What do you think are your chances for a shot at the championship?
ANA BEATRIZ: Well, after Nashville I think my Healthy Choice Sam Schmidt crew, they are really confident, and if the team continues to be consistent as we've been, I think we have good chances.
I'm not going to put a lot of expectations because I think we're doing really well, and we just want to continue being consistent. If we can win more races, that would be amazing. But the most important thing right now is getting the points.
MODERATOR: Following this season, do you foresee a second year of Indy Lights, or do you think you'll be trying to move up to the next level, or what kind of things do you have in mind for next season and beyond?
ANA BEATRIZ: Well, I think it would be really nice to do another season in Indy Lights and try to fight for the championship since the beginning. But it all depends on my results, and I really believe that Andre Ribeiro is taking care of it and that he will decide the best thing for me.
MODERATOR: You're living in Indianapolis. Just tell us a little bit, how do you like the city? What kind of things do you do between races? And do you hang out with some of the other Brazilian drivers in town?
ANA BEATRIZ: Not really. All the drivers have been really busy right now, especially the IndyCar drivers. I really enjoy living in Indianapolis. I think it's not a big city but it has everything that I need, and I have my friends, Brazilian friends, American friends. In my free time I have a social life, and then of course go do my physical stuff to get prepared for the races, go to the Sam Schmidt shop, be a little more with the guys, and like doing sports, running, and for sure taking care of my apartment. That takes a lot of time, as well. But it's more or less like things that I do here.
Q: The drivers today as far as skills, do you think that they have to have more skills than say drivers say 30 or 40 years ago when racing was a completely different sport basically?
ANA BEATRIZ: I really don't know how to answer this, but I think it changed a lot. I think in the past racing was a lot of passion, and the drivers raced with passion and they wouldn't think about physical too much or go to massage therapy.
Nowadays, IndyCar drivers, they have such time to be complete in everything. The passion I think continues, but I think it's just more romantic. I don't know about the skills. I don't see Emerson Fittipaldi as anything different from Scott Dixon; both amazing drivers.
Q: Do you believe it's only a matter of time before female racers are common in motorsports?
ANA BEATRIZ: I think so. I think little girls, they don't realize that they can do it. When they see Danica (Patrick) winning, or now I won, and they can realize, oh, I can do it and that sport is amazing, I want to start and everything, so I think in the future we're going to see more and more female drivers coming.
Q: You must have gone through a lot coming from a foreign country. You've got a lot of adjustments that you've made. What's been the biggest challenge plus all the stuff you had to learn along the way? What's been the biggest challenge for you so far?
ANA BEATRIZ: Well, I lived in England last year and I can say that it was really hard for me. I learned a lot of things there, and it was my first time outside of Brazil.
Here in America I think it was so much easier. I think Americans were so nice, and Sam Schmidt helped me a lot, as well. I can't say it's really hard for me here. I'm loving really living here. I miss my friends, I miss my family, but I know that I'm going to see them at the end of the year.
Q: Isn't there a famous supermodel named Ana Beatriz Barros from Brazil, too?
ANA BEATRIZ: Yeah. Was the question about her?
Q: No, but have you ever been mistaken for her?
ANA BEATRIZ: Yeah, some people -- because I'm Brazilian, I was known by Bia Figueiredo, and then everybody in Brazil called me like this.
But when I came to America and when I said, 'Hi, I'm Bia Figueiredo,' nobody could understand it and I have to repeat it. And I thought, that's not going to work; I have to put an easier name for Americans so they can say it. So we changed to Ana Beatriz. A lot of people put in Google 'Ana Beatriz,' and it shows Ana Beatriz Barros with bikinis and she's gorgeous, as well. People are like, 'Wow, Ana Beatriz like that.' No, that's not me. It's a funny thing.
Q: I wanted to ask you, you were just talking about this a while ago, but the fact that Danica finally won a race this year and then you won, do you feel like that in itself makes a female driver even more accepted? Do you understand what I'm saying? And not just a novelty but as a force?
ANA BEATRIZ: I think so. I think just getting more respect, as well. I believe the future of the gender wouldn't be any more an issue because I think there will be more and more women drivers and maybe could be 50 percent one day, I don't know. The winnings of Danica and mine I think is just the beginning.
Q: Your goal right now, is your goal still Formula One, or do you have a certain place you want to get to? What is your long-term goal, I guess?
ANA BEATRIZ: My long-term goal is become a top driver in IndyCars.
Q: How much has Sam Schmidt meant to your career at this point? What does he bring that's new or his team bring that's new and refreshing for you?
ANA BEATRIZ: I can say that Sam Schmidt team, they have been amazing with me since the beginning when I was the first time here. They are the best team, they have the best cars, and they are the best to teach things for the drivers. And I think I understood it and tried to get almost everything they teach me.
It's hard work, and I think we are working really well together, and it's really special for me.
Q: In a nutshell, what was that thing that got you interested in driving race cars? You may have said this earlier. I got on here late. But do you remember back that moment or that week or that year when you decided you wanted to drive race cars? What was it that turned you on to race cars?
ANA BEATRIZ: I always was an energetic girl, and when I was five or six years old, my dad took me to the go-karting place, and I was watching the go-karting and they were crashing, and I just loved it.
At the time go-kart racing was big in Brazil, and my dad told me, Bia, here is where I started. I said, Dad, that's amazing. I want to start, I want to start. He just let me start when I was eight years old, but I always kept annoying him between that time.
Q: He didn't tell you little girls don't drive race cars?
ANA BEATRIZ: No, my parents, especially my father, he always let me do whatever I wanted. He always supported me in everything, so it's just amazing.
Q: Coming from Brazil, I mean, sports-wise it's a very macho country and you're in a male-dominated macho sport. Can you just talk about some of the obstacles you maybe had to overcome to be accepted in this sport?
ANA BEATRIZ: It was hard work, especially in the beginning. The boys were dominant, and I really had to do a lot of bad things to get their respect. I'll give you an example. I used to drive with Nelson Piquet, Jr., in go-karting when we were eight years old. And one day Nelson Piquet couldn't pass me, and then the session was over, and Nelson Piquet's father was fighting with him because he couldn't pass me. What's that, you know? What's the problem? So it was really hard to get the respect.
But by the time that I could win, start to win races, people just got used to me in Brazil so I didn't have many problems anymore, and all the drivers started to respect me.
I can say right now, Americans, they are really more acceptable about women racing than in Brazil and Europe.
Q: So what do you think the reaction would have been back in Brazil to your win?
ANA BEATRIZ: Well, I can tell it was something huge in a Brazil. I was really, really excited that I could say that for one week we were more famous than Tony (Kanaan), Helio (Castroneves) and whatever, because all the newspapers were talking about it. And I'm really glad that all the press that are in Brazil did that. That's really, really nice.
Q: Do you see yourself as a role model now for young girls?
ANA BEATRIZ: I don't know. I don't know. I hope so. I think it's nice. Last time I went to Brazil I saw some little girls trying go-karting, and they went running to get an autograph and said I was their hero, and I was like, 'Wow, that's impressive.' I don't know really. It's strange to think about it.
Q: You mentioned the super model and bikinis. Danica Patrick did the swimsuit issue with Sports Illustrated. Do you think that helps or hinders the progress of women auto racing drivers?
ANA BEATRIZ: I think a strong point for Danica is that she can achieve the public that doesn't watch the races, and that's maybe why she's so big, and she feels good to do it and she's not shy. So I think it's very good for her.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate that, congratulations, again, on the win at Nashville and best of luck the rest of the way.