Transcript of ESPN on ABC Indianapolis 500 Media Conference Call
EDITOR’S NOTE – A media conference call was held today to discuss ESPN on ABC’s live telecast of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24, beginning at noon ET. Participants on the call were ESPN senior vice president and executive producer, Jed Drake, along with the three members of ESPN’s booth for the telecast: lap-by-lap announcer Marty Reid and analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. this is the 45th consecutive year that the Indianapolis 500 has aired on ABC.
JED DRAKE: I wanted to give everybody just a sense from the entire production team that is fortunate enough to be doing this event again this year and now for another four years, that it is truly a special event. There are very few events that you can just throw out their name and where there are images that stand in your mind that are vibrant and powerful and have that lasting memory. And the Indy 500 is absolutely positively one of those.
For me there are certain events that have that cache and for others I’m sure there are others. But given the nature of this event and its special quality that when virtually anybody hears the Indianapolis 500, it resonates a very powerful image for them. It certainly does for me and it certainly does for everybody that’s involved in our coverage.
We treat this event with the kind of attention and care that it deserves and it is at the absolute top of our priorities each year in terms of what we bring to it, and certainly the announce team that we have assembled again for this year, with Marty, Scott and Eddie, and a great group of pit reporters, is a good testament to that.
I could go through all the images that are in my mind, but it’s like a movie trailer in terms of those striking, lasting images. And I’m very pleased to be able to be at Indy again this year for the event. I’ll just close by saying that I hope that our coverage lives up to the responsibilities that we have in televising it and we all walk in quite confident that that will be the case.
Q – Marty, what are your thoughts as you are again in the seat that people like Jim McKay and Keith Jackson and others have held over the years during ABC’s 45 years at Indy?
MARTY REID: I think you touched on it and so did Jed. It’s the legacy. For us it’s 45 years and here we are celebrating the Centennial Era for the next few at the Speedway. When you realize you’re a small piece of the chain that started back with Charlie Brockman in ’65 through Chris Schenkel, Jim McKay and Keith Jackson, Jackie Stewart, Paul Page, Bob Jenkins, I mean, it’s a huge responsibility, and, as Jed said, we take it very seriously. And we still want to have fun, but it’s not just another race. It never will be.
Q – Scott Goodyear, you know very well this is not just another race. What are your thoughts as we go into another Indy for you in the broadcast booth?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: As a driver you always get that feeling in your stomach, the butterflies when you go through the tunnel the very first time you arrive there in May knowing that you have a chance to drive the track.
And I probably said this last year also, that it became a new sensation for me when I started television in 2002, because I got a chance to see all the pageantry that went on for the Indianapolis 500 from the television booth up off in the grandstand in 2002, something that obviously went on all those years that I drove there but I never saw because I was so tuned into just driving the race car.
So I think I have a better understanding and more appreciation for the Indianapolis 500 and the rich history that it has now that I’m involved in television, seeing it maybe through television eyes or spectator eyes, if you will, than I did when I was driving it as a race car driver.
And that appreciation I felt again this month when I drove underneath the tunnel to go to the Speedway when they were opening up for practice. And although I live in Indianapolis, with the exception of the month of May, I might drop down there once or twice a year. You go down maybe for meetings or around that area. You go past the Speedway, but the only time I think I ever really go inside the tunnel is to go to the museum maybe once a year in December to get some Christmas gifts out of the gift shop and what have you. So it certainly hits home again every time you pull in there in the month of May, and it’s a very neat feeling.
Q – Eddie Cheever, last year we called you the rookie of the group. Now in your second year, did working as an analyst last year give you a new perspective and a new appreciation of the event?
EDDIE CHEEVER: Yes, yes, I did. It’s obviously different than driving it, but if you’ve been going long enough, watching how the whole TV show was put together and all the effort that’s put into it, it was definitely different perspective. I’m the cleanup crew. I always get to go last. There’s not much left to say, but I agree with what everybody has said. It’s an unbelievable event.
And at the end of it, it really comes down to we will be celebrating a new winner for the Indianapolis 500 and every sports fan or definitely every racing fan all over the world will know who it is probably five minutes after the event is over. So it’s fun to be a part of that.
Q – Scott and Eddie, on what is the IRL’s biggest day and how important is it that the two biggest stars, Helio and Danica, have an impact on this race? I mean, in terms of the livelihood of the sport in these times.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I know we expect a lot out of those drivers and they out of themselves. From Helio’s point of view no doubt we’re paying attention to him simply because of what he’s gone through in his personal life during this last little while. But I think it’s fair to say that he’s now back and maybe not so much at Long Beach or Kansas, but now that he’s been here for the whole month and he didn’t go back home throughout the month at all, he just stayed in this local area of Indianapolis. He’s back and enjoying motor racing.
I think he’s got more intensity and more love for the sport and driving race cars than he had before the issues that he had with the government. And I gotta put him at the top of the favorite list, not only just because of the fact he won twice and he’s on the pole, but just watching his race car all around the racetrack over the past few practice days, it’s really remarkable. I think he’s got one of the best cars, along with Scott Dixon. Both those guys have great cars.
But, as you know, it’s not just the fastest car that wins this race. And driving before, it’s the case of what you have around you with the team, and he’s got a great team, as many people do.
Danica struggled in the last couple of days with speed with a full tank. I’m not sure you would put her on the A‑plus list as far as the group to win the event. She might be listed as an A.
But without a doubt I think those are the two names that people are going to be watching for on race day. I don’t think they’ll disappoint in one way or another. I think that we’ll still be riveted to the TV because of what’s going on on the track. 225 miles an hour, especially with those two players.
Q – Along the same lines, Danica and Helio are the easy stories. Are there some other stories you see emerging in this race that folks aren’t looking at?
EDDIE CHEEVER: I think every Indy 500 as it develops, there’s always a multitude of stories. And I think one of the hardest jobs we have in the booth is trying to figure out what is going to be happening in the next five laps or 10 laps as the race develops.
There are a multitude of drivers and teams that will be trying to knock Ganassi and Penske off their perch, because those teams have been the strongest in qualifying and have the strongest history in the race. And now that this unification is one year into it, you will see other people come through.
I think Graham Rahal can do very well. I think Kanaan is very due ‑‑ is more than due for a win. There are other stories that will develop that will show. It’s not just a Helio Castroneves and a Danica Patrick based series. Although they are the drivers that get the most attention, there are a lot of drivers there that have the opportunity to do well.
And this race is the most difficult race any of them will do in the year. And it’s not just about a driver or a team; it’s about somebody getting everything right that weekend and Sunday.
Q – Marty, read you once went toe to toe with Woody Hayes. Have you ever been toe to toe with A.J. Foyt? Does anyone in the IndyCar community remind you at all of some of those kind of characters?
MARTY REID: A.J. does, but A.J. and I got together early. And in fact it was because of my experience with Woody. What happened was I asked him (Hayes) a question for his reaction and I got it. And everybody’s camera was rolling. So that’s the short, abbreviated version for anybody who may not remember. It’s been a while.
But after that, when I was starting to do races three years later for ESPN and the first time I saw A.J., I said: ‘look, I know you’ve got a temper.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to embarrass you and I don’t want to embarrass myself.’ And so we worked up this system. I would catch his eye. If it worked for us, we were at Miami at the Grand Prix, and the car was a real mess, a handful. And I caught his eye and he just shook his head no and I gave him a little time and he finally nodded and I got the camera man and we went in and did the interview and it was a lot better for both of us. So A.J. is the closest that comes to mind there. But I’m sure that down the road we can get a few people up on the tire.
And to go back to that other question, watch out for Mario Moraes. This kid has been impressive throughout the month. I think we could see something from him in the month too.
Q – Do you think IndyCar needs a few characters, though, like I was just talking about, like A.J.? Obviously he’s still irascible, but he’s getting long in the tooth. Do you need characters like that? Like last year, nobody’s going to forget Danica Patrick’s stalking down pit lane until she’s intercepted heading for Ryan Briscoe’s pit. Do you think IndyCar needs that kind of stuff?
MARTY REID: Absolutely. Look at Kyle Busch. You can wear the black hat as long as you can back it up on the racetrack. Kyle Busch backs it up on the racetrack. And, yes, IndyCar needs that, and to a degree we’ve had that. Danica and Dan Wheldon getting into the shoving match in Milwaukee, that was another example. How about when Sam Hornish, Jr. and Tony Kanaan get into it at Watkins Glen and we end up with his dad being pushed down and people rolling all over the place? For some reason that stuff hasn’t gotten the kind of media attention that NASCAR gets. But IndyCar has had its moments and, yes, you do need those characters.
Q – Scott, Paul Tracy is back for the first time since 2002. And what his chances are, who knows, but you’re one of those guys who from a technicality standpoint had an Indy 500 win taken away from you. Unless he wins this race, will this stick with him in his brain forever, no matter what he says about it? And how did you finally through the years learn to kind of compartmentalize that?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: First off, I don’t think you can say you ever forget it. When I was driving, in ’92 it was so close and deserved to finish 2nd because I raced to 2nd. In ’95 I didn’t agree with it then and don’t agree with it now.
But, you know, there’s always more races to come. You are focused on the next race or the next time you come to the Indy 500. And I think it probably feels more jolted to me now that I’m retired about getting disqualified in ’95 than it did in ’95 or subsequent years after because I was still racing. And obviously the situation in ’97 with 2nd place there with the flag and the lights scenario, that wasn’t correct also.
Even then I look at it and I go: I’m always close when I’m here. I know I’m going to win one of these one day. So that’s your focus. That’s what you’re coming back and chasing. And then after, when you retire, you start to think about it afterwards, and it probably gets underneath your collar a little bit more in retirement than it does when you’re driving.
So but to Paul’s defense, I talked to him a fair amount a few weeks ago when he first arrived in town at our ABC studio shoot and then at the track, obviously. Never has he brought that up. I don’t know if he’s doing that purposely because of my situation, but, you know, I know that other people he’s mentioned it to.
I think he seems to be focused and on the event. But that is my scenario with it. And maybe he might be a little more vocal than what he is now the day he’s no longer driving in the car.
But on top of that I will tell you in my conversation with him, I asked him about full‑time riding. He said: ‘I don’t know what it takes. I really don’t know what it takes to come over here and to be accepted to run full time because I thought what I did at Edmonton, not being in a car, finishing fourth there, being competitive, I thought that would get me a full‑time ride. But what did it get me? It got me nothing.’ I think he’s now more focused on today than what happened in 2002.
Q – Eddie, you watched this series pretty closely now. Graham Rahal, compare where he is right now, so to speak, maturity‑wise, everything else, to maybe where he was a year ago, and have you seen progress in him? Have you seen things you like about his progress and do you think it gives him a shot, legitimate shot on Sunday?
EDDIE CHEEVER: I think he was disappointed last year. Obviously he was disappointed when he had the problem as early as he did in the race. And he made probably a rookie mistake. And he got over that very quickly. When I look at a driver like Rahal whose father has done as much as he has winning Indy and other things, you have to assume he’s heard all the stories at the dinner table and his learning curve is probably faster than the driver that just comes on to the racing scene.
I think Graham has enormous potential to win not only the Indy 500, but championships. And it’s just difficult to sit down and quantify how much somebody learns from one season to the other. But I would not be shocked if at the start of the race he gets into his own rhythm quickly. He gets behind a driver that’s got a lot of miles here like Helio Castroneves. So he will just immediately make that jump forward during the race, not even until after the race is over with. I think he has great potential. I would not be shocked at all if at some point he led.
Q – You were a guy that made your own way. His dad prefers for him to at this point at least drive for somebody else’s team, not his own and the better the team, the better. Do you think that’s good for Graham also from the standpoint of kind of making his own name for himself as opposed to just riding the coattails of his dad?
EDDIE CHEEVER: I’ve been around racing since I was 15 years old, and I’m now 51, so that’s a long time. I would have to say that I’ve not met as many drivers who think through the problem of racing as well as his dad does. So if they have come to their conclusion, I know it was not done instinctively. It’s something they both mulled through. Speaking for me, I would hate to have my son drive for me. Racing is a very difficult sport and sometimes that father/son relationship would get in the way of a good judgment. And the team that he’s driving with is very successful. And they’ve embraced him as a race car driver and now they’re trying to build up their race team around him. So I think it’s ultimately the right decision. And we’ll see it. You’ll see results coming out of that.
Q – I’m wondering, the fact that all the qualifying this month has been on another network, has that presented an awkward situation for you guys? Have you been doing mock broadcasts? How have you guys been getting the rust off for this month?
MARTY REID: Eddie and I have been doing SportsCenter hits. We’re going to do a rehearsal on Friday during Carb Day. We won’t be on the air, but we’ll use to it get everybody back in the flow. But the truth of the matter is it’s impossible for the company to spend to set up a crew and a truck and everything to another race that we aren’t televising.
If it would have been my first year and Eddie’s first year and Jack Arute’s first year, I think everybody might have reason for concern. But we’ve done this race. We know what to expect. And the one thing that is different that may not make a lot of sense to everybody out there at home is this is the first year we will have control of the world feed. In the past, we could be talking about something and because someone else had control of the world feed, they might jump and the viewer’s going what are those guys talking about? And you have to transition quickly. Now the world is going to basically follow us, and that’s going to help our broadcast immensely.
JED DRAKE: I have no concern whatsoever about this group doing this race as the first race of the open wheel season for them this year. Zero.
Q – For our former drivers, do they have a sense this year that the merger really is complete and the cross‑over teams are definitely up to speed with everybody else?
EDDIE CHEEVER: Yes, I think last year was a strange year because many teams were racing there for the first time. Now they’ve got a 500 under their belt. All these cars have so much telemetry on them and they accumulate so much data they probably spent the whole winter mulling over questions. They come here a lot better prepared than they did in the past.
You cannot learn the Indianapolis 500 by watching it on television. Although watching it on the DVD, you’ve got to participate in it to feel all of the emotion that comes with the event. So I think the merger is complete. There will always be stronger teams. There will always be teams that have more money, and there will always be some dark horse that will come out of nowhere in the race for either a short period of time, and if they’re lucky to do it on the last 20 laps of the race, they may have a chance of winning it. But I think you’ll see pretty much a repeat of what you saw last year with certain teams going to the front right from the beginning. And then as the race develops, only God knows.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: And I would agree with Eddie, because I think you brought up a very important point is that the Indy 500, with the emotion, you can go off to all the other events that are involved in this the series, and it’s almost like the same events that they were attending. They were attending Champ Car races at different various places and they come along and join us in this series and you’re going to IRL races and various different places. A lot of tracks which they attended at before. But then when you get a chance to come to the Indianapolis 500, it is a huge difference from anything you’ve ever done anywhere at any track in your life. And that is the key thing. So for a lot of them as I mentioned before, my own experience driving underneath the tunnel and going, wow, I mean, I remember asking all those guys arriving last year, for instance, like Justin Wilson, he goes I’ve been here before in Formula 1, but this is a completely different place when you’re going around a two‑and‑a‑half‑mile oval. Those are the sorts of things that you can’t, as Eddie says, get from telemetry or see on a DVD. You have to experience it.
And there will be a calmer Graham Rahal this year because he’s now got one year underneath his belt and Eddie talked about dinner table conversations. You can hear all the stories. You can have all the advice from your dad who has won the Indianapolis 500, but until you live it yourself, you will never really understand it.
And just the start itself three‑wide going into Turn 1 is something you can’t experience anywhere else. And that’s the key thing here. And I think for the teams and the drivers to have a year underneath your belt is a huge step forward.
And we have to remember that those guys didn’t plan to be involved in the series last year. It wasn’t like they did a business plan a year out and we’re now going to join the series. That series was just going down and ended up merging and they basically had a few weeks’ notice to scramble looking for cars getting things changed over.
Not only cars, but accessory parts and tools to fit the new cars. All those sorts of things. They were way behind the eight ball all year. And there was no way even a Newman/Haas would ever be able to catch up. We’re going to see that change this year.
Q – As Jed said earlier eloquently about the fact that this is such a storied race, did you get a lot of casual viewers and people who were not normally followers of this series? So as you get ready for broadcasting this event, do you look at it as knowing that you’re going to have a lot of casual race fans who are not hip to exactly what’s going on and how do you handle that situation?
JED DRAKE: You’re right. There are multiple responsibilities that we have that fall onto the entire production and announce team. And we recognize that there are casual viewers. And we will work to make sure that they are brought into the line of discussion, if you will, because inevitably we want to make sure that they can get to a level of understanding where they truly enjoy the race for what it is and not just the spectacle.
But that said, you know, one of the fascinating things about racing particularly on an oval course, I suspect, is that it’s like soccer. And I know that may sound like a very obtuse analogy, but soccer is a very complex game that looks remarkably simple, and it is at various levels remarkably simple to understand.
And racing is a remarkably complex sport that can also look remarkably simple and easy to understand. And so I think, yes, it is a spectacle and that’s why people are drawn to it. They’re drawn to it because of the extreme danger. They’re drawn to it because we’ve televised it for 45 years and it happens on the same day and it happens to be a three‑day holiday. You have all those things working for you in a very positive direction.
I think if we’re truly successful with this, we’ll televise it on a variety of different levels and do so, if not simultaneously, at various times during the race. Where there will be time to explain things to those that are less than expert to draw them in. But at the same time to not talk under, if you will, the experts.
It’s a fine line. It’s a fascinating line to draw. And in my former life as an event producer, we had that same dilemma with a different event known as the America’s Cup. Again, yachting looks pretty simple. They’re going to try to get from here to here and go around these marks and somebody is going to cross the line in front and somebody’s not.
So all of those events have sort of a certain commonality that they are simple events to understand but yet can be as complex as you can make them, and the balance is to find that groove in both areas and to satisfy a number of people. It can be done and I think we do a damn good job at it.
Q – You mentioned this is the second longest broadcast. What’s the longest?
JED DRAKE: CBS has had the Masters for 54 years.
Q – Eddie and Scott, Eddie can you expound, Scott talked about Helio, what do you think it took for him, the roller coaster he’s been on, to Dancing With the Stars and knowing about it and going through that and then all of a sudden now he’s back on the pole? Could you talk about the focus and just how he could do this? I don’t know how many people could?
EDDIE CHEEVER: That really is a good question. And I probably had that question from 50 different angles during the month of May. I couldn’t come up with the answer because I wasn’t living in his skin.
When the Indianapolis 500 would come up on my schedule, I would clear everything two months before the race even began to make sure I had no pending issues that would take away any of my attention. Then I put myself in his shoes thinking a few weeks before practice starts I’m sitting in a courtroom with a bunch of jurors that are going to decide my fate. He very easily could have been making license plates for the next four years. I know that sounds trite, but that’s something that could have actually been a possibility. To be able to come out of all of that, put that behind himself and put himself in a race car and conform to the level that he did, I think, is incredible. I think it will go down as one of the greatest achievements, greatest poles whatsoever, not for the speed but just for the fact of what he had to deal with.
Then, of course, you have to play into part the fact that he’s the integral maybe the leading member other than Roger Penske of the racing organization, and it’s a team that came together and stood behind their driver and they had great results. Penske did not win I think in his 14 Indianapolis 500s just by chance. So I think a due diligence and a lot of preparation that that organization is known for has found its way into Helio’s way of life over the years. And to come out of that like he did I think is incredible.
Q – Scott, we haven’t really talked much about Ganassi. Here they’ve got the defending series stamp and race champ and they bring in Dario who won the previous race and championships. Can you talk about what makes Chip Ganassi kind of at the top of their game right now?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think you mentioned that. I think if you asked Scott Dixon and probably even Dario, but more so Scott Dixon, he’s very happy to go and fly underneath the radar screen. It’s sort of if you had to look between a guy like Helio and Dixon, I think for sure Helio thrives off of it. Scott is now to a point where he used to tolerate it before. He’s looking like now he maybe enjoys the attention. But certainly not a guy that goes out looking for it. So I think he’s learning to live with it. But they have somewhat been quiet, but let me tell you, I know just speaking from the Ganassi guys it hurts they’re not on pole. They expected to have a good shot at it with the two top drivers, and obviously they got a satellite team with Alex Lloyd, really another Ganassi car, and I think Alex did a great job this year because he’s not really been in a car really for a year and he’s running out their third car, as you will.
And overall I think that team is going to be obviously in contention as everybody believes they will be. But I would say that Dixon is very smart race driver. They call him the Ice Man. He’s got that nickname for quite some time. A driver that will continue to just calculate where he is on the racetrack. They’ve got great people in the pit lane, obviously, to turn around and help them run a great race.
And spoke to Mike Hall in length last week in his motor home for over an hour, and an individual that just really thinks this race out. He could have been back in the office, but the team is in the garage working on the cars. There’s no traffic activity. There’s nobody around. He’s just in his motor home just sort of calculating what they need to do and very well thought out about what they think they will have to do to win the race, and he believes that if they’re around at the end they will have a chance to win it. But he’s very quick to point out that Penske’s cars and a few others are also going to be in the hunt.
But this race this year might be a little different than the past. I think you’ve got really the young guns coming on through in Briscoe arriving now here again with Penske. It’s going to be interesting to see if everybody uses their head and they’re all around at the end or if they really want to be leading right now, can’t wait, and they are overaggressive which might cause them to make a mistake. It will play out of one of two ways: A great shootout at the end or they’ve all shot themselves before the end.
Q – How does Dario fit in with this team?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think he’s fitting in very well in speaking with some of the guys, they say that he’s a guy that really is so focused, adds a lot to the team. Don’t forget, he’s been wearing the Target suit now really ‑‑ this is starting his second year, because he spent a year over in NASCAR. He’s been around the group and I think he’s happy to be back to something he’s molded to. He’s a race car driver. He went over and raced over in NASCAR, but I’m not sure that the body armor fit very well. Here, you know, he grew up in open wheel cars. He’s got the seat molded to his body and I think this is where he’s most comfortable.
Q – We were talking about how the merger is complete, been a year old and all of that. But I’m wondering with the economy the way it is and all of that, what do you think the circuit has to do now to be successful here in the near future?
EDDIE CHEEVER: I think racing ‑‑ actually, I know racing is an integral part of all the sports entertainment business in the states all around the world. The economic problems that we’re going through in this country are no different really than what’s happening everywhere else. So it will be necessary to lower costs. They’re continuously trying to do that anyways. But there’s a series of things that will have to occur. And I’m sure they can with the right forethought into them make the sport stronger than it was in the past. But I don’t see anything at all that has had a negative effect on this year’s race or the one we’ll see on Sunday. But this sport like every other sport is not immune to what happens in the economy.
Q – Eddie, following up on what you just said. How important is it for, you know, Danica and Helio, the two biggest faces of the sport, to make a nice showing on Sunday for the viewers to see that and maybe keep going, keep watching?
EDDIE CHEEVER: We obviously ‑‑ I mean from the perspective of being in the TV booth, it is our job to talk about what is happening on the racetrack and to try to make the experience of watching this incredible show clear and better to understand. And a lot of people that turn on the television have lived through Helio Castroneves’s experience with Dancing With the Stars and his wins, and Danica obviously being the first really truly successful woman race car driver, they’re attracted to the race for those reasons. But if you were to talk to all the race car drivers or the 33, the other 31 that are in the race, they couldn’t care less about Helio Castroneves or Danica Patrick; all they want to do is win the Indy 500.
Is it important they have a good showing? Of course it is. They’re athletes. But from a purely racing perspective, their popularity does not translate into them having more opportunities at winning the race.
There are a good handful of drivers that can do well here. I speak as a father that has a daughter. My daughter is always asking me how Danica Patrick is doing, and that’s the first question I have to answer. So I understand where your question is coming from. But there are many other drivers that are every bit as ambitious and there are many teams that will do everything they can to make sure they’re the ones that come out of the 500 the new champions.
Q – A lot has been made during the qualifying coverage of the lack of innovation at Indy these days, back to the days of the Novi and the turbine car and all the innovation, it’s been pretty much a spec series, and I know there’s plans in the years to come from different engines and different engine manufacturers. Do you think that will breathe some more life back into Indy and the IRL?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think the thing that we have to think about right now is that the league has done a great job in bringing a rules package together that has allowed us to have I think one of the closest fields that we’ve had in many years at the Indianapolis 500 this year. And because the rules are in place, for instance, even a simple thing for making one common length of suspension this year at 122 inches whereas last year they could use 118, 120, 122. The league is doing some cost‑cutting measures which I think are then taking away some of the options for the larger teams with the larger budgets to find some areas to improve their car that would not be available to the teams that are in the middle or in the back end of the pack.
And I think that’s why you see scenarios, for instance, like even Newman/Haas/Lanigan coming and putting Graham on the inside of Row 2 and K.V. with Mario Moraes, putting him on Row 3 and having the opportunity to do that sort of stuff. When I think about that, I think about Luczo‑Dragon with Raphael Matos as Row 4 or 5. So they’re bringing the middle closer to the front and allowing the group in the back to get closer to the middle, if you will, and I think we’re seeing that.
And with that I think it’s giving you strong races and strong results. Now, there’s no doubt that it’s a lack of innovation and all the cars sound the same. They all look the same, and I think for all the diehard that we have that it’s disappointing to them. But I’ve said this, and it’s no disrespect to them, but I’ve said this many times before, they’re not living it and breathing it and they’re not the ones having to write the checks for it.
So if we went down the path that we used to before and there was never any control over it, we would have six wheel cars here all wheel drive cars here. We’d have budgets like Formula 1 and we know what they’re going through or have been through in the last couple of years. And their costs are skyrocketing.
There needs to be, in my opinion, some innovation. And I hope with what you’re talking about, with the new rules coming on board, they say now 2012, and I’ll be honest to say I’ve not heard much of it in the last three months since the economy has gotten real bad if there’s even been continuous meetings with the automobile manufacturers.
But maybe when that happens, whether it’s ’12 or a little bit shortly thereafter, we do start to have some different engine tones, some new innovations coming out, and maybe a few races where some of the cars are a little bit stronger on street courses than the engine manufacturers and maybe the next race you go to one engine manufacturer off a better package on a one‑mile oval and high‑speed ovals maybe it could be somebody different.
That way we’ll change up everything that’s going on. But as far as the finishing order of drivers are concerned with teams, but the other thing that happens with that also is then the teams and the manufacturers start to spend a lot of money to catch up to the other group.
And I have seen this before, and I’ll take you back to the IMSA days, because I was with the Jaguar factory years and years ago and Eddie was doing the stuff over in Europe with Jaguar is that when the manufacturers decide to pull out, the series dies.
We’re seeing that a little bit like that with the American Le Mans Series where Audi and Porsche have pulled out and the car counts are down. What happens is you’ve driven out all the medium or local drivers, if you will, the medium‑sized teams, because they couldn’t compete.
So if we let the innovation go rampant, you’ll go through larger swings high to low than what we have right now, which a lot of people say it’s the boring middle, if you will, with no innovation.
Who knows the right chemistry for all that? I’m not really sure. But I was there in the IMSA days when Jaguar pulled out and Toyota pulled out and Nissan pulled out and in the space of six months from one announcement to another announcement to another IMSA died.
EDDIE CHEEVER: I’d like to follow up with that. I agree with what Scott said. What we have gained with it being a spec series is the cars and circuits have never been safer than they are now. Everybody needs to remember that we are running laps top speeds at sometimes close to 230 miles an hour. Having hit the walls at that speed, I know what it means to not be covered by a very safe car.
So it’s true the cars are spec, but they’re getting a lot safer. And if you counted how many cars finished the races now, it’s unbelievable. Unless you make a mistake mechanically, they’re almost bulletproof.
But I’d like to pick up on one thing you said. The IndyCar Series as a whole is going to have a golden opportunity here to make changes that could affect the automotive industry going forward the next three years. They’ve done that in the past. So there’s a golden opportunity in these economic problems that we have right now.
So then to come up with some new solutions that could really have a big effect on everything, on the cars we run tomorrow and the cars that will be developed on engines, on everything. They just have to make sure they make the right decisions.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: If I may add to Eddie’s excellent point, I think it’s safe to say you’ll not see a V‑8 engine in the series when they come out with the new engine package whether it’s 2012 or the year after. You’ll probably be seeing a four‑ or a six‑cylinder engine with turbo charge attached to them. So to follow up with what Eddie is saying, there’s no doubt there’s going to be a big difference going forward here with even just changing the current power plant that we have.