Indy Racing League - Infiniti Pro Series press conference: Feb. 18, 2003 Rick Mears, Arie Luyendyk, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Ed Carpenter Part 3 of 3 Q: A couple of quick questions for Arie and Ed before they have to-- A. Luyendyk Sr: Actually,...
Indy Racing League - Infiniti Pro Series press conference:
Feb. 18, 2003
Rick Mears, Arie Luyendyk, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Ed Carpenter
Part 3 of 3
Q: A couple of quick questions for Arie and Ed before they have to--
A. Luyendyk Sr: Actually, Arie Jr. had to leave.
Higgins: Oh, Arie Sr. We have an unexpected guest.
Luyendyk Sr: This is Arie Sr., so I guess you recognize my voice.
Mears: You woke up, huh?
Luyendyk Sr: Hey.
Higgins: Ed, are you still with us?
Higgins: All right, well maybe you can field this question then. You obviously had a very successful season last year but a win eluded you. Are you ready to take the next step and get that first win in the Pro Series?
Carpenter: Yes, I have been ready to take that next step for a while. It just did not come my way. We had a couple good opportunities and some good runs last year. Just seemed like I never get by that 14 car, so now that I am sitting in the 14 car in ways it will become a lot easier.
Higgins: And also, comment a bit about the camaraderie in the series. It seems like there is a lot of interaction between the drivers, and now that you are into your second year, you can almost be considered a veteran. Do you, as well as Rick, in his role as driver coach, are you able to offer some advice to the rookies coming in this season?
Carpenter: To be honest with you, I have not really gotten to know many of the rookies. The only chance I have had was at Phoenix, and I was just really focused on getting to know my new team and everything, so I am sure they will come points where I will help someone out. Last year, we all kind of talked and shared all of our information and helped each other out, and I am sure it will be the same way this year.
Higgins: Thank you. Actually, Ed, I think we should probably let you go, as well, since you have to go back to class at Butler.
Q: Yes, first Ed. Ed, when you get out there in that 14 car, what did you learn about what it takes to win in this league? Now you have the car that everybody will be chasing besides.
Carpenter: Well at Phoenix, the one chance I got in the car, we really were not going for speed. We were just kind of getting to know everyone. I think the test tomorrow in Miami is going to say a lot more for what we are going to be able to accomplish this season. We have set goals to win races and win poles, and until we achieve those goals, I do not know, but I think we are going to have a good shot at it.
Q: Rick, in sports often they say that the superstars of the sports do not make good coaches because their skill level was so much higher than many of the others. How do you look at that as yourself as a four-time Indy winner and so forth becoming a coach?
Mears: Then that means I should be a good coach because I am not a superstar. I am not a teacher, so to speak, and never will be. But I am just there to try to pass on what I have been fortunate enough to experience. And to be a real teacher, there are ways of teaching that you learn to do. I am starting out to help out and just be an open door, a sounding board and just let things happen and see what works best for everybody and how we can help the best we can.
Q: This is for Arie. Arie, I am just curious, what role are you playing in the development of your son's involvement?
Luyendyk Sr: Quite a major role, actually. I take care of a lot of the business side of it, trying to hook up Junior with companies that could sponsor him and things like that, commercial side of it and the PR side of it, basically every aspect. I think that when I got spotted it was a long, long road, and I am trying to shorten it up for him, just make it easier because I know that every driver, each driver and him, as well, would like just to drive and focus and tighter on that, and I am trying to give him the opportunity to focus just on that and develop his skills in this series. And I think he is a good example as is Aaron Fike. These guys went to Kentucky last year to do their rookie test, or at least Arie did, in the G Force that I drove last year, and the ease of which he was able to do that says a lot for this series. And that is why I think it is really good for him to stick around in this series and do it another year just because the experience he gains through the series, through these races on these oval tracks, all the same tracks that the IRL cars run on. And after having done just seven races of that last year, he gets into the IndyCar (Series car), and that is just -- His heart rate probably did not even go up with that kind of ease he took the IndyCar (Series) car, and it says a lot for the series and for the type of cars that they run. And I believe the cars this year are quite a bit better than last year, at least from the engine side. I think the horsepower-car weight ratio now has come a little bit close to where it should be than it was last year. It is great for these drivers to develop their skills in this series.
Q: Yes, this is for Arie. Arie, how do you feel about Rick Mears coaching your son?
Luyendyk Sr: Oh, I have no problem with that. When I read that Rick was going to do that, I looked at myself, well, that is only better for this series in general and for Arie Jr. I mean, of course Junior comes up to me sometimes for advice, which actually is not a lot. He does not really pick my brain a lot. But what I tend to do is, and I think Rick does the same thing, you just stand back and you look and you listen, and then if there is something that really sticks out you say, "OK, listen, do you realize what you are doing in Turn 1?" Or, "Do you realize what you are doing in Turn 4 coming out of a corner?" And then they go, "No." "OK, well this is what you are doing, and this is what that does to the car. So if you do it differently, then you will make everything a lot easier." And sometimes you have to come out with these little jabs of advice to get the guy to do it different and make things easier for him. And if they have skill for it, they will try it right away, they feel right away it is better, and then they will stick to it, and they just have a little bit more piece of advice that becomes experience. And I know Rick gives him the same -- I have known Rick for many years, and he is not a talker kind of guy. You have also coaches that talk so much it is like, "OK, now I have too much information." I think Rick gets straight to the point, and I think in a lot of ways our personalities are similar.
Q: This is for Rick. You mentioned earlier that at Fontana that you really could not get a lot of feel for these cars for the Infiniti Pro cars. Do you think that there is a lot value in running at the shorter tracks? I think you are going to run (Indianapolis) Raceway Park and things like that, give a little experience to these guys at the lower speeds?
Mears: Oh, yes, I think it is good both of them. I say that about Fontana, but that is mainly as say watching a car go around, a driver go around pretty much on his own. Now as far as the racing at Fontana, then there is a lot more involved. That is where you really study and learn and get very good lessons on drafting the aerodynamics, drag of cars, positioning around other cars and that sort of thing, more so than just pattern. Now you get to your shorter tracks, now your pattern becomes more important, it becomes more of a handling, you have to think more about chassis and setup and aero too, but it throws a lot more of the chassis and setup of the car into the equation and also the driving pattern and style where you pick and choose and place the car on the track. Both of them are very good. It is just two different scenarios.
Q: Does that mean you would be in favor of more of these events being held at sub-mile tracks?
Mears: I am in favor more events, all of them, any of them, period. I have never seen a track that I really disliked for any reason. Like I said, any of them are fine. I think they are all good. Obviously, the main thing you look at the safety concerns of certain tracks or whatever, but I do not think there is anything on the schedule or even being looked at that would be a problem. No, I have always liked short -- And again, it is two different kind of, two different theories or mindsets, however you want to say it. I enjoyed the speedways because of the draft, because of the turbulence, because of the working with the aero package and everything. But I always really enjoyed a short track, a mile track, where you can get in there and hustle the car a little bit more and think a little bit more about your setup of the car, the chassis and your pattern that you take around the track. So it is just two different things, and they all have their own characteristics, which makes them good.