Tony Roper and Tom Gloy Interview


NASCAR Craftsman Truck TONY ROPER, DRIVER - NO. 55 ICEHOUSE BEER FORD F-150 and TOM GLOY, OWNER - NO. 55 ICEHOUSE BEER FORD F-150 WERE ON THE NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES TELECONFERENCE TODAY. A TRANSCRIPT OF THE TELECONFERENCE FOLLOWS. TONY HAD HIS BEST NCTS CAREER FINISH AT INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK THIS PAST WEEK, RUNNING SECOND. TOM, YOU HAVE A NEW DRIVER AND NEW CREW CHIEF AND THINGS SEEM TO BE GETTING BETTER LATELY. YOU'VE GOT TO BE HAPPY WITH THE CHANGES. "Well, I really am. We're a new race team. This is our first full season in the Craftsman Truck Series and we have made some changes. Tony has come on board within the last several events, and we're very pleased to have him on board. He's a quality driver. He did the entire season last year so he brings some experience to the team in regard to the truck series. The new crew chief is a gentleman by the name of Bill Fingerlow who's been with me for years, and is extremely experienced in other series we have raced in. Lots of victories and lots of understanding of what it takes to run vehicles at the front. The last couple of events we have run very strongly. Unfortunately this last weekend we were at the wrong place at the right time when a couple of trucks decided they were going to debate a spot and win the race early. I think they both continued on for a while, and we were in the fence. We've had some very quick vehicles lately, and I think both Tony and I are very excited about the prospects, and how this team is really starting to gel." TONY, RECENTLY YOU'VE HAD SOME GOOD FINISHES. TALK ABOUT THE WAY YOUR CAREER SEEMS TO BE IMPROVING RIGHT NOW. "It began with moving to this team, I think. I see a big future ahead of myself and the team. We're running good right now, and I expect to run good every race. This year has been somewhat of an up and down season for me, but mainly up. I've run good at a lot of races, and since moving over here to the Gloy/Rahal team, it takes a little time for the driver and the team to gel. I think we are beginning to gel now, and I think you are going to see a lot more of what happened Thursday night in the near future."

TOM, YOU ARE A CO-OWNER WITH BOBBY RAHAL OF THE ICEHOUSE FORD. HAS THAT HELPED IN ATTRACTING SPONSORS, AND GETTING NOTORIETY FOR THE TEAM? "It actually helps in all directions. Certainly it has helped attract sponsors. Between Bobby and I, we've done an awful lot of racing on an awful lot of different venues, and met an awful lot of different people. That has certainly aided us in attracting a quality sponsor like Icehouse Beer. I think also there are tremendous technology possibilities between the teams. The truck team has certainly benefited, and the Indy Car team has benefited in a couple of ways because of the combined association. The Indy Car team is located in Columbus, Ohio so that is a bit of a distance problem. We are located in the Charlotte area. But there have been some technology issues we have been able to help each other with. So it works, I think, in all directions. Bobby and I have been friends, I guess, for 25 years. And so we work really well together. We're both really excited about this new venture." TONY, YOUR DAD WAS A RACER IN THE MIDWEST. HOW DID THAT INFLUENCE YOU IN BECOMING A RACER. "It was a big influence. I've been traveling with him since I was a tike. Certainly racing was all I ever wanted to do. His past experience with some of the teams has really been the reason I've been able to walk the ladder to where I'm at now. I've actually driven for people that he had in the past, so that certainly was a positive for me. Not only my dad, but my uncle and my cousin have been racers for a long time, since the 60's. We've been a racing family, and boy when you are around that and around that experience it certainly helps down the road." TOM, TALK ABOUT THE SEARCH FOR TONY. YOU AND BOBBY SEEMED TO GO THROUGH A TRIAL AND ERROR. WAS IT THE COMBINED RACING EXPERIENCE OF YOU BOTH THAT LED TO YOUR PATIENCE? "I think that is exactly right. It was the combined experience on our part, and having a very knowledgeable sponsor like Icehouse allowed us to take some time and look for the guy we really wanted. It was a trial and error a little bit. We tested several drivers. When you are new to a series or new to an arena you don't know the ins and outs of everybody. To make a race team really successful, you need a chemistry. We wanted to test some people and get to know them a little bit and get to know what they were about and if they would fit in with this race team that we really have a lot of pride in. Unfortunately it was a little bit of an expensive exercise. We lost a couple trucks testing drivers. But I'm very thankful to our sponsors for allowing us the time to take some time and pick a quality guy like Tony." TONY, THIS MUST BE KIND OF A DREAM COME TRUE. IT GAVE YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRIVE FOR A COUPLE OF GUYS WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE SEAT BEFORE AND THIS IS A HIGH PROFILE RIDE WITH ICEHOUSE. "Believe me, every morning when I wake up I pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming. It is really amazing to me. Not to get off the path here, but I'm looking at a book that shows Tom Gloy in victory lane spraying champagne on some guys back in the 70's. I can remember when Tom was racing, and certainly, obviously Bobby Rahal with his success in Indy Cars. It is a great feeling knowing that you have the backing of two great race drivers and a great sponsor in Icehouse and the support from Ford Motor Company. You couldn't ask for anything better. Yeah, it's a high profile team and I've had a lot of people ask me about pressure, but I don't feel any pressure because it is such a great team. It is a good group of guys. The crew members are fantastic. Everybody gets along. It is a dream come true for sure." TOM, WHO TOOK THE CREDIT, YOU OR BOBBY, FOR PICKING TONY? "I just keep reminding Bobby that he's a minor partner." TONY, WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE OF RACING AT A SHORT TRACK LIKE FLEMINGTON AS OPPOSED TO RACING AT A SUPER SPEEDWAY? "Actually the IRP track and Flemington, being short tracks, they are pretty much the same. It takes a lot of patience. The difference between a Flemington and say a Pikes Peak - you're just flat out at some of those tracks. You can kind of take chances here and there, and you've got a lot of room for error, I believe. Flemington is a race track that is just a big circle. Whenever you are on a short track that is a narrow race track, you have to mind your P's and Q's. Everything just happens quicker. I know a lot of people think when you are running faster, say if you're running 180 compared to 120, things happen faster. They do happen faster when you wreck, but actually on the race track when you're racing you have more time to react on a big track." IS THERE NO ROOM FOR ERROR? "I don't think so. Especially at Flemington. Not only will you back yourself into the fence, you'll get passed. That is not what we want to do. It's a finesse race track. You are never flat on the gas, and you're never all the way off the gas. It's quite the race track. It's a legendary race track, and I can see why." HAD YOU EVER RACED THERE BEFORE YOU RAN THE TRUCK THERE LAST YEAR, AND DOES THIS TRACK REMIND YOU OF OTHER SHORT TRACKS YOU HAVE BEEN ON? "Last year was the first, and only time I've run on the track. Nothing reminds me of that track. It's kind of a breed of it's own, but it's a fun race track. It's nice to go to a race track that is different and a change of pace. It is a different race track chassis-wise. It's different. It's fun. But I don't know that I can compare it to any track that I've ever been to." IS THIS A DIFFERENT SET-UP AFTER RACING AT LOUDON AND IRP AND THEN COMING HERE? "The Indianapolis set-up will be closer than the Loudon set-up, but it will be different in small ways. The biggest difference will be the drivability of the truck. You've got to drive the track in different ways that you do at IRP or Loudon." THE LAST COUPLE RACES THERE WAS NO MID BREAK. WHAT IS THE STORY ON FLEMINGTON? "Actually, I (Gloy) can probably answer that. Flemington is a pretty unique place. The truck series is going to all pit stop races, but there are a couple of tracks on the circuit, Flemington being one and Louisville the other, that are very small, and the pit lanes are not conducive to pit stops at all. At Flemington, where we've had a half-time break at all of the events last year, and the early ones this year, we're going to have a half-time break, but it will be extremely short. I think it will be about a minute, a minute and a half. This series has graduated, and it is moving into the big time, and we need to be doing pit stops. But there are a couple tracks that aren't conducive to that. The pit lanes just aren't big enough. So there are a couple where we will have to do some kind of break, but we're going to cut that break way down, and make it as much like a stop as we can for the fans." TONY, I KNOW YOU GUYS LIKE THE BIG TRACKS, BUT WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF A SHORT TRACK LIKE FLEMINGTON? "I hope that we continue to go to the short tracks. They are a big part of the history of auto racing. I really love short track racing. I'm sure all the drivers do. But as Tom said, the series has graduated now and it is time for us to step up the program. I'm just afraid that some of these places are going to be in trouble when it comes to that. Flemington and Louisville will probably be the two, right off the top of my head, that I can think of. Certainly it is tough for a promoter to justify changing his track or his infield or whatever it takes to accommodate pit stops. But I hate to see the short tracks go because I really like short track racing. That is what my background is. But the series is moving on, and I'm afraid some of them will be in trouble if NASCAR does decide not to do a half-time break." FLEMINGTON IS A ONE-DAY SHOW. ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN THE PROGRAM IS SHORTENED LIKE THAT? "I like that. It probably gives you less time to screw up the chassis. You get a couple hours of practice, you qualify and you go race. It's kind of like Saturday night special racing to me. It's a lot of fun. Some don't like it, and some do. It doesn't bother me at all. It is probably good for the fans to come in and have a complete day of racing." TOM, HOW HARD WAS IT TO COME FROM A ROAD RACING BACKGROUND TO NASCAR? "I think the biggest differences and the hardest differences are the number of events. There are 27 truck events all over the country and the amount of travel. I guess the other big difference to us is using five or six trucks to support one driver. We need speedway trucks, and road race trucks and short track trucks and mile trucks. So you constantly have vehicles in preparation, vehicles in use, and vehicles in transit. That is the biggest aspect. When you road race, you do specific things. We got pretty expert in doing those things that it took to win. When you go oval track racing, you do specific things to win there. We're certainly on a learning curve. I believe I've got some awfully talented individuals working for me, and we're trying to shorten it as much as we can. We're trying to use some local circle track talent to help shorten that curve. So we're just trying to be the best we can be as soon as possible."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Tom Gloy