ROGER STAUBACH AND TROY AIKMAN, OWNERS OF HALL OF FAME RACING NO. 96 DLPÂ® HDTV MONTE CARLO SS AND RICH TEMPLETON, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF TEXAS INSTRUMENTS HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING IN TO THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE? Aikman - "We are very excited about...
ROGER STAUBACH AND TROY AIKMAN, OWNERS OF HALL OF FAME RACING NO. 96 DLP® HDTV MONTE CARLO SS AND RICH TEMPLETON, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF TEXAS INSTRUMENTS
HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING IN TO THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE?
Aikman - "We are very excited about the opportunity we have. We have come a long way in a short period of time. We started working on this team about six months ago and feel very good about the team we have put together. Clearly we feel great about Terry Labonte being our driver. Going in to today, we will see what happens. Roger and I will both tell you, we obviously hope for the best. But I think we are realistic about what our expectations are. We will just see what happens. I have been asked a lot the last couple of days what the emotions are going to be like, what it is going to like as an owner watching the car. I really don't know, so I looking forward to seeing how the whole thing unfolds today and what it does for me as far as watching our car go around the track."
Staubach - "Friday night I was at the Naval Academy for the football banquet. I thought they would ask me about the '63 Army/Navy game or when we beat Michigan and Notre Dame but all they wanted to talk about was NASCAR. I was a nervous wreck. I told them we were in car No. 96. I am nervous but it is exciting. As an athlete I have been involved with three sports all of my life - football, basketball and baseball. You have a little control, you are out there and you can contribute. But here, we are just supporting our team. I have the same kind of jitters I have had as an athlete but I don't have the control. It is kind of an unusual feeling but it is a good feeling. We are excited about it. We have a great sponsor. DLP has done everything for us. We have a great driver and team. We are just hoping we can be competitive today.
Templeton - "We couldn't be any more excited than we are. You take something like NASCAR; you combine it with a couple folks like Troy and Roger, both Hall of Fame quarterbacks and proven winners over time. This is just a great way to bring DLP Technology, the ultimate TV experience, to millions of people.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET BUSTED FOR A RULES INFRACTION AT YOUR COMING OUT PARTY?
Aikman - "What is a carburetor by the way? (Laughs) There is a part of me that thinks we caught on to this sport pretty quickly. (Laughs) We are right there with the rest of them. (Laughs) I am sure you have all heard and are keeping up with it this week, it was an unfortunate situation. I am sure the people in NASCAR recognize that by no means were we, our team, Philippe Lopez our crew chief, or anyone else that was involved, trying to get an unfair advantage on the track. Roger and I weren't happy about it because of how it is perceived. Yet I believe that everyone understands that it wasn't going to give us any more speed on the track and help us with our qualifying. It is disappointing from the standpoint that we didn't race our way in or we didn't qualify and we are having to use the past champions exemption. But that is one reason why we have Terry Labonte in addition to the fact that he is a great driver and has a great track record. He represents our team extremely well. But that exemption aspect of it was also something that was considered when we brought him on board for the first five races."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN TURN THIS OPERATION INTO AMERICA'S TEAM?
Staubach - "I don't believe that Troy and I are that arrogant. I don't know who started that America's team thing back in the old days when I was still playing. Bill Bergy (SP) hit me on a blitz one time and knocked the wind out of me. He picked me up off the ground and said 'Take that America's quarterback.' So I didn't like that tag back then. So once I retired, America's team is kinda fun so I think there will be some association with that. Troy resurrected the Cowboys. He won three Super Bowls so there is a history and an association. I am excited too because the NASCAR fans are just really great people, just down to earth people who just like to go out and have a good time. And they like football, too. We are in this in a competitive way. But we are in it with fans that I think remember our other life but that isn't going to help us on the track but it is going to help us with the fans. I really have enjoyed running into people who followed me in football and are big NASCAR fans as well."
Aikman - "I think there is one thing that is worth pointing out. There is no question that the Cowboys have a tremendous fan base and we were both recipients of that support in our careers. How that translates into NASCAR, it doesn't. I am sure there are some Cowboy fans that are NASCAR fans that may feel some allegiance to us but we recognize that we are the new guys on the blocks and we have a lot learn before we get to the level that a lot of these top teams are at. We come into this sport with great respect for the people who are in this sport and have been in this sport for years and are enjoying tremendous success. So by no means do we think it will be easy, but hopefully we will have some success that we are used to having in other endeavors. If we are able to do that hopefully we will be able to attract some other fans."
WHAT IS YOUR LEVEL OF COMMITMENT TO YOUR TEAM?
Aikman - That is s a good question that I am not exactly sure how to answer to be quite honest with you. I am going to attend as many races as possible. And what exactly does that mean, I don't really know. As many of you know, I broadcast with FOX during the football season so I am gone 25 - 26 straight weekends for the football year. My work schedule just ended two weeks ago. I have a young family, a four year-old and a three year-old and a 16 year-old daughter. So for me to be gone another 20 -25 weekends is not realistic for me. As I am sure you all know, I am not handling the day-to-day operations of the team. I will come to as many races as I can; I certainly keep in contact with them on a day-to-day basis. Roger and I are very much committed to this and want to make sure it works and successful. If it is not, it is his and my name that are on it. We are going to do everything we can and everything that is necessary and be as supportive as possible in getting the right people in the right places to give us a team that can be competitive. I will be as involved as possible but I am not going to make as many races as I would like to just because of my family situation and I am gone so much of the year already. "
Staubach - "Troy has been great. He has been emailing Philippe. We were over meeting with our team and there are 40 people already who are totally dedicated to us, to TI (Texas Instruments) and they know we will do anything for us. We have been with them at our facility in North Carolina and I drove the car around. I had a hard time getting in it first of all. We have changed four tires and would have filled the gas tank in 12.5 seconds. These are skilled people we have on board. It is kinda like football where you evaluate their talents. They are committed to us and they know we are there for them but we aren't there with the team all the time, we are supporting the heck out of them. If Philippe calls us and wants us to do something for them, we are going to do it."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT NASCAR THAT ATTRACTS SO MANY PEOPLE FROM THE NFL?
Aikman: "I can't answer for everyone from football that hasn't gotten involved but I would have to believe that it is the competition aspect of it. We were talking about getting involved in NASCAR and putting a team together and being involved from the ownership standpoint. It is something you can't do in other sports because of the cost. Certainly we all recognize that there is nothing cheap about NASCAR when you are talking about getting involved from the ownership side relative to other sports where it is next to impossible. I have thought about getting involved for a number of years. I have gone to several races and been intrigued by the competitiveness of this sport, the way they go out and compete each and every week. The thought of being involved in that at such a high level was exciting to both of us. One of the reasons we got involved on the NEXTEL Cup level as opposed to the Busch Series, we just decided that if we were going to get into it, we were going to get into it at the highest level. That is what has been intriguing from my perspective. I see Terry Bradshaw a lot and in talking with him, that is one of the reasons he got involved in it and it would be one of the first to tell you it has been a real challenge. We recognize how competitive and difficult this is. Does it make us a little nervous? Absolutely. But also it is that competitiveness that makes it very intriguing for us and want to be successful."
WHY WERE YOU INTERESTED IN BACKING TO NEW OWNERS IN THE SPORT?
Templeton - "I think the pedigree and history the two people sitting up here with me and you see a commitment to winning. They have performed all of their lives at this level. We just saw a great opportunity to get together with Troy and Roger to get together and build a winning team. What better way to bring HDTV to everybody. The growth of NASCAR is obvious and well documented. We think this is the right program to get with at the right time. I look forward to success with them."
YOU MENTIONED GETTING INTO THE SPORT AND NEEDING TO DRAW SOME ALLIANCES, WAS IT AWKWARD THAT YOU HAD TO GO TO THE COACH OF THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS (JOE GIBBS)?
Aikman: "Your question is probably geared more toward the football fan that is also a NASCAR fan. They say, 'Gosh, how do you team up with a Redskin?' Or, they're asking Joe Gibbs, 'How in the world do you team up with two Cowboys?' Whereas, I look at it like it makes great sense because we both have the NFL connection and we both have this great interest in NASCAR. So this is a perfect marriage between the two organizations. And it has been great. Obviously when we played each other, there was tremendous rivalry between us and the Redskins and we had a lot of great battles with Joe Gibbs. But I have tremendous respect for Joe Gibbs and what he has done in both NASCAR and football. For us, we've always tried to align ourselves with good people. My beliefs in what makes someone successful and what makes organizations successful really parallel what Roger believes. That's been the theme here this morning. You've got to have good people. Joe Gibbs believes that and he's a good person. We felt it was a really good fit and that we could be proud of that association and say, 'Yeah, Joe Gibbs is our partner and we're proud of that.' We wouldn't be here today, believe me, if it wasn't for Joe Gibbs Racing and what they've meant for our organization."
Staubach: "I've been a little bit worried about it since the carburetor (violation) though (laughter). Maybe he's getting even with us. I don't know. Joe, God love him, still doesn't like the Cowboys."
Aikman: "He like them now. They've beat them twice this past year. That's why I'm checking the engines and the transmissions and chassis today to make sure he hasn't pulled one on us today (laughter). Just kidding."
WITH THE FUTURE OPPORTUNITY TO ALIGN WITH TOYOTA OR EVEN HONDA, WOULD YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JOE GIBBS PREVENT YOU FROM SWITCHING MANUFACTURERS? HAVE YOU BEEN RACING ENTHUSIASTS PREVIOUSLY, OR HAS THE COMPETITION ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS?
Aikman: "We hope that we're not a sister team to Joe Gibbs Racing indefinitely. The idea is that as we get on our feet -- and it's my understanding that Joe had a similar situation with Hendrick Motorsports when he got started -- people getting into the sport recognize that it's extremely difficult to do it on your own. In time, I hope that three or four or five years from now, I'm sitting here at the Daytona 500 having the same conversation, and two things will have happened. One, that we will have had some success early and done things the right way and made our sponsors happy. And secondly, that we would be on our own. How that translates to manufacturers and all that, I don't know where all that is going. We're happy with the manufacturer we have now.
As far as being a racing enthusiast, the first race I ever went to was the 1993 Daytona 500. It was after one of our Superbowl wins. I was a guest of Sterling Marlin's. I had met him in Nashville. He had been a guest of mine at the Superbowl. I got here to the track that morning and they asked me if I'd drop the green flag. I said, 'Yeah, I'd love to.' Sterling Marlin had never won a NASCAR race at that time. His father Cookie Marlin had never won a NASCAR race. I dropped the green flag. With 50 laps to go, Sterling Marlin was in second place. I was supposed to leave to catch a flight. I decided to stay to see what would happen. He winds up winning the race. We went to Victory Lane and the press conference. That was my first venture into NASCAR and obviously, it doesn't get any better than that. And so I've been following it ever since that time. And with the football schedule, trying to keep up with what's going on with NASCAR becomes a little tedious at times. But over the past three years when we said let's do this, then my interest certainly has increased tremendously."
Staubach: "In my case, it started three years ago. A senior executive in our company really is NASCAR fan and asked me to get involved. He also knew someone who knew Troy, so there were five of us who got started. I was able to start a race at Texas Motor Speedway and really appreciated being down there going 185 - 190 mph and doing things with these athletes. So it's been a three-year process in appreciating this sport. We have a lot of our customers who are sponsors in the sport. The fan really relates to the sponsors on the track. So it's a combination of business and I'm really starting to get that old Adrenalin going as an athlete and competitively. So I'm just getting (more) into it every day."
WHAT HAS BEEN MORE DIFFICULT AND/OR EASIER THAN YOU IMAGINED GETTING THIS TEAM STARTED?
Staubach: "There was a great article in Fortune Magazine recently talking about NASCAR and the cost. I've had a commercial real estate firm for 28 years right now and I worry about it all the time. There is a budget and a process and we have to make more money than we spend. I think the most difficult thing is making sure we have good equipment when we hit that track so we can be competitive. So it's an expensive sport. We have a great sponsor, but there are things we need to do also to make sure we are able to support our team and to be able to put a competitive opportunity on the track. I sure understand it. I've come to realize that it's an expensive sport to do it right."
Aikman: "Anybody who is getting involved in NASCAR has to realize what the expense is. Like I said, when we first got into it, we felt we could go about it and do it on our own. And it was when we took that first visit and saw Joe Gibbs' operation that we realized that we really might be in over our heads. And so we knew if we were going to make this thing work, we really needed to develop an alliance with one of the teams who is successful at the time. Fortunately, we were able to do that with Joe Gibbs. And then we started looking at who we were going to have as a sponsor and started meeting with various people. A lot of people wanted to be involved in our team, but not at the level that we felt was really necessary to at least give ourselves a fighting chance to be successful. The one thing we didn't want to do was to come into this sport under-funded. And even when you're doing all that as you all know, it still doesn't guarantee you anything. But then we had an opportunity to get together with DLP® and Texas Instruments. It's a great opportunity for us with the Texas ties right there in Dallas. It fits very well -- the DLP® technology with what I do in football, with Roger's background in football, and in addition to that, with NASCAR. So we're well funded and at least give ourselves an opportunity to be successful. Coming to the realization of how difficult it is to get from the idea of doing this to actually get to where we are today to actually have a car on the track.
"What's been easy? I'm still waiting for something to be easy. There's been nothing easy yet. And I don't know that it ever will be. We've spent a lot of time talking to a lot of people in this sport, and it's a fight. When you're talking about just fraction's of seconds between winning a race and finishing 12th, it's obviously very difficult."
AS A SPONSOR, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO HAVE OWNERS WHO ARE AS RECOGNIZABLE AS SOME OF THE BIGGER DRIVERS? AND WAS THAT PART OF YOUR INCENTIVE TO BECOME INVOLVED?
Templeton: "It's obviously a great incentive. To take out a new technology that really gives customers the ultimate HD experience, you're going to make a lot of progress when you have folks like Troy and Roger. We had a great session at the Consumer Electronics Show. Here in the world, with all this great technology, inside our area the most popular thing that day were Troy and Roger being available -- and the car. I think we appreciate the importance of marketing and what's going to matter. And certainly the celebrity goes a long way for us on that."
DO YOU USE JOE GIBBS AS THE MODEL FOR WHAT YOU HOPE TO BUILD, OR IS THAT NOT A REALISTIC GOAL?
Staubach: "What Joe has done is fantastic. In fact, when we started three years ago, we met with Joe. He was still active. And then when we visited a year -- almost two years ago -- JD, his son, is running it. He said hey he was sorry but that his dad was down in Florida relaxing with the grandkids and that he couldn't see us. Two weeks later he signed a contract with the Redskins so I emailed him and said, 'Hey, I'd like to meet your grandkids'. That association was the beginning. I knew Joe in the 80's. I just respect the heck out of him. I think he attracts good people. If you have the right people in the right places doing the right things, miracles can happen. That's what we're looking for. We do understand how difficult this is. But Joe, thankfully, and I think Rich will admit, that our association with Gibbs -- they're building our engines, except for that carburetor (laughter), the transmissions and the chassis. So we have a great association with Joe and that's how much we respect him. It's unusual how we get help in NASCAR at the same time you're competitive. We're learning. We sure couldn't work out of a locker room with the Eagles and the Giants and the Redskins -- man, we'd kill each other in there. So this is our association with Gibbs. We'd love to emulate what he's done. But he has a history of doing it right and we're fortunate to be associated with him."
Aikman: "Yeah, when you're talking about Joe Gibbs Racing and Rick Hendrick Motorsports or Roush or Richard Childress Racing, we are inspired by all those teams and would like to get to that level at some point. We know there are a lot of steps between here and there.
"I'll be curious to see how active Joe is able to be at the tracks now that he's taken on obviously being a head coach for the Washington Redskins. So in a lot of ways, his schedule parallels what my schedule will be as far as that goes. But Joe Gibbs does a great job of getting good people at the right positions. That's what he's done with the Washington Redskins. That's why he's been so successful. When you walk through that shop and see how they're doing things, that's when Roger and I took a step back and realized we had a long way to go to be able to compete at that level. That's why the alliance with Joe Gibbs gives us a little bit of a head start relative to some of the other upstart teams."