Indy Racing League March 11, 2004 Thiago Medeiros K. Johnson: Thank you Mary, and we certainly welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, March 11th. Today we will take a look toward the next event weekend on...
Indy Racing League
March 11, 2004
K. Johnson: Thank you Mary, and we certainly welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, March 11th. Today we will take a look toward the next event weekend on the Indy Racing calendar, that being the Phoenix 100 for the Infiniti Pro Series on March 22nd and the Purex Dial Indy 200 IndyCar Series event on March 23rd, both events taking place at Phoenix International Raceway. Joining us today will be Infiniti Pro Series driver Thiago Medeiros, as well as IndyCar Series drivers Buddy Rice and Tomas Scheckter. Our first guest is Thiago Medeiros who made his Infiniti Pro Series debut in the season-opening Western Union 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A little background on Thiago: He is a 20-year-old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil where he still makes his home. And he comes to the Infiniti Pro Series having spent the past four seasons in South American Formula 3 competition. This season Thiago drives the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. In just his first Infiniti Pro Series event, Thiago qualified on the pole position and went on to finish second to race winner Mark Taylor. Thiago, welcome and thanks for joining us today.
T. Medeiros: Thank you. Hello everyone. It is my first season here, and I am very happy.
K. Johnson: Well, Thiago, looking back on that first race at Homestead you came out of the box having only tested at the Homestead test, but yet you qualified a car on the pole, you finished in second place. Going into that race weekend did you think that kind of performance was possible?
T. Medeiros: I had a lot of experience. I was in Formula 3 for four years, and the balance of the car is very similar. It has helped me a lot. And I am very happy because I have a very fast adaptation of this car, and everything was good. I have a very good engineer, and he helped me a lot to find a good setup to qualify during the race. I am very happy.
K. Johnson: Now looking ahead to our next event at Phoenix, you really have not tested out at Phoenix International. How difficult will it be given just two days to get acclimated to a new track and get the car up to speed?
T. Medeiros: Last year I had my first contact with the Infiniti Pro Series on December 17 and 18. Testing in Phoenix was my first contact with this category. After the test I was convinced this was the right place to be. And I am here, and I am very happy with this category this season. I think we started very good for the championship.
K. Johnson: At this time I would like to go ahead and open to the media for questions. Just like to remind you to please limit your question to one initial and then we will come back for follow-up. Also, we do a complete transcript of the call, and it will be sent to you tomorrow to your e-mail and fax machines. Now let's open the forum for questions for Thiago Medeiros.
Q: I am curious as to the difference for you racing in F3 on road courses and now basically an oval series. What is the difference as a driver for you? What new things have you learned?
T. Medeiros: Everything is different -- the car, the road. Here it is my first season without my country. Everything here is new for me. Basically we can't make mistakes in the oval circuit because you have the wall all the time beside you. In the road circuits you can be more aggressive and brake later and improve something. In the oval circuits you just need to have patience and to find a good balance during the race and during the qualifying and during the practice. You just need to drive the car to the limit of the car, not over your limit.
Q: Do you prefer one over the other yet or are they just different?
T. Medeiros: It is a completely different kind of race, you know. In the road circuits you have Formula One, you will not have a lot of competition. And ovals you race all the time side by side. I think it is more interesting for the public and for everyone watching the race and the drivers. You have different styles of race.
Q: Does the oval racing seem easier or is it harder in some respects? Is there a preference?
T. Medeiros: It is different to explain everything. You just need to learn to drive to your limits, and you have to be patient to find a good setup because you can't make any mistakes; all the time you have a wall beside you. I prefer the oval because it is more competitive, more fun for me. I enjoy it more than the road circuit.
Q: Hi Thiago. Welcome to America. Can you explain to me why so many drivers come from Sao Paulo? What is the draw from that one big city that brings so many drivers to America?
T. Medeiros: Sao Paulo is a very big town. We have 18 million people living there. We have a very good school. And I think all the Brazilians who come here, Da Matta, Junqueira, everyone comes here from learning the South America Championship, the Formula 3. I did the same. I just came here when I had a good base, you know. You have to learn a lot, and live in difficult situations. In the beginning I preferred learning in my country, and now I am still learning here. I am sorry for my English. Everything here is new for me, my first year out of my country. Everything here is very difficult.
Q: In the race last week were you surprised that you did as well as you did in your first outing?
T. Medeiros: I am very happy because in the beginning I made a mistake and fell to fourth. I learned a lot during the race because the track is completely different for me, and the oval circuit is tough. Everything here is new, and I am still learning. I was very happy because I started on the pole. I was quicker than everyone during that weekend. And I can still fight through the season because I have a very good team, and I am very happy with Genoa Racing; they help me a lot.
Q: How did you and the team come together?
T. Medeiros: We started talking last year. I came here to watch some races, and after the season I had a test in Phoenix. I was talking with a lot of teams to find a good deal, and I found the best deal in Genoa Racing.
Q: Wondering, I get a sense that perhaps for you it is more difficult being away from home than it is learning how to race on ovals. Is that true?
T. Medeiros: The difference in ovals is you need to find details to make a difference, because it is very competitive. One tenth can cover three or four cars at the same time. All the time I am still working to find details to be faster, you know. More details make the difference. This is a big challenge.
Q: But is it more difficult to be away from home on a personal basis than it is to learn how to race on an oval?
T. Medeiros: It's difficult because the oval circuit all the time is high speed. You can't make a mistake-- It is very difficult to explain the feeling, you know. It is very different feeling, but I am very happy.
Q: Is it difficult being away from your family?
T. Medeiros: All the time they help me a lot. My mother thinks it is very dangerous, but it is the thing I most like to do, and all the time she is very happy. She saw my first race, and she is still happy.
Q: Thiago, welcome to America. You mentioned the problem learning the English language and all that kind of stuff.
T. Medeiros: Sorry.
Q: I say you have all these problems with the English and everything; how do you relate to your engineers with your car, what you need to do with the car?
T. Medeiros: It is easier for me talking about the car (than) to ask something in the restaurant. I know a lot of things to say about the car and my feelings of the car. And my manager has helped me a lot sometimes to translate the things. And Tomas, we have maybe the same--we think the same form. We think the same way, and it makes me happy because it is much easier to say things about the car than to ask something in the restaurant and make questions about my life.
Q: Thank you very much and good luck with the rest of the season.
T. Medeiros: Thank you.
Q: Is there any food that you like down in Brazil that you have not been able to find up in the United States or have you found something here you like that you have not experienced before?
T. Medeiros: The thing I most like here?
T. Medeiros: Today is very cold in Indianapolis. We do not have snow in my town.
Q: What about the food though?
T. Medeiros: The food is great. All the time I try to find the same that I eat in my country. Some very good food here. I think we have a lot of nice restaurants here in Indianapolis and I'm very happy with the city.
Q: What is your favorite food from Brazil?
T. Medeiros: Rice, beans and pasta. I like a lot of food.
Q: Have you tried White Castle in Indianapolis yet?
T. Medeiros: No, I have never tried that. I have never been there. I hear about them but I have never been there. Is it good?
Q: You will have to try it sometime.