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CART MEDIA CONFERENCE

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART MEDIA CONFERENCE

Bobby Rahal
August 26, 1997


T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everybody. Welcome to the CART media teleconference. Thank you all for joining us today. And a special welcome to our guest this afternoon, driver/owner Bobby Rahal of Team Rahal. Welcome, Bob, and thanks for taking the time to be with us today.

BOBBY RAHAL: My pleasure, T. E.. Looking forward to speaking with everybody, as always.

T.E. McHALE: Bobby, the driver of the No. 7 Miller Light Reynard Ford is in his -- is a 3-time PPG Cup Champion having won the title in 1986, '87 and '92. He is in his 6th season as a team owner and in his second season as head of Team Rahal which includes entertainer David Letterman as minority interest owner. The two-car team Rahal effort also includes Bryan Herta driver of the No. 8 Shell Reynard Ford and winner of the 1996 STP Most Improved Driver in the PPG CART World Series. Bobby owns 24 career victories and 18 pole positions in 16 years of PPG CART World Series competition. He sets a new series record every time he starts a race. Currently the mark stands at 242 starts. He has enjoyed outstanding success at both of the next two venues in the series with three runnerup finishes at Vancouver, site of this weekend Molson Indy Vancouver in 1991, 1993 and last year and four career victories at Laguna Seca, site of next week end's Toyota Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Bobby has scored PPG Cup points in 10 of 14 starts this season and currently ranked 11th in the PPG cup standings with 60 points. The Molson Indy Vancouver, Round 15 of the PPG CART World Series will be televised by ESPN on Sunday August 31st at 5:00 P.M. eastern daylight time. With that, we will open it up for questions.

Q. I know you have made some remarks about how the series seems to have very good crowds, but TV ratings aren't that good. It could be argued that one of the reasons NASCAR has such good exposure because they run so often. Do you think you guys going to have to resign yourself to the fact that to get more TV exposure, you may have to run considerably more races than the amount you have now?

BOBBY RAHAL: I don't know if our ratings a reflection of how little or how much we race. Certainly, the TV ratings in the past have been better with the same number of races or maybe a little few less. I think the ratings are more a reflection of a number of factors. But, let us face, this coming here we are going to be racing in 19 events. And, I know there is interest in having CART races beyond that 19. I think that, you know, certainly I can never see us getting to be like NASCAR where you have 30 some events. The NASCAR people are all -- the mechanics and drivers and everything else, are raising hell about that. And, I think particularly given our testing or our lack of a testing limitation per se, you know, we couldn't do much more than 20 races, I believe, and have the -- have the same kind of testing. That is, in effect, like doing 35 or more races depending on how much testing you do. So I think that it is good. Obviously, we should be flattered that there are a number of new venues that are either -- we are either signed for or a number of potential venues in the future beyond what we have, I think that is a reflection of the strength of the series. But, I think our TV ratings, as I said, are or lack of TV ratings, are the by-product of a number of factors and not necessarily dependent upon whether you race 18 or 16 or 20 times.

Q. What are those factors?

BOBBY RAHAL: Oh, I think to a certain extent I think there is no question that the split is having some effect. I think there is confusion in the testing in the public's mind. I think we have a curious situation. I call ourselves the critical success. Our at-track attendance, we performed to record crowds virtually everywhere. Elkhart Lake being an exception and that is just because of the rain all day Sunday. And, yet, somehow that popularity and that excitement is not being translated onto the TV and out to the general public. And, I think some of it is due to the split. Let us face it, if you look at the ratings of the networks, they are down considerably anyway over years past. And, in fact, I noticed the other day that, you know, baseball -- ratings for baseball is down, hockey is down tremendously. The only sport that has been showing any improvement at this stage of the game is NASCAR, frankly. Our ratings seem to be very subject to where they are being taken. We seem to do quite well in what I would consider the major markets here in Columbus. Ohio might pull a 7 rating. In St. Louis, that race was somewhere around 11 or 12. But, when we get out into the country, where there is reliant more on cable and things of that nature, we seem to really take a pretty good hit. Which kind of dilutes the ratings as a whole. So, you know, I think that the lack of the ratings is again driven by, in some respect, the split; some respect the fact that network is down anyway. And, you know, we are subject to that. I think that we seem to be performing well in some areas versus others. Let us face it, you know, five years ago when we should have been marketing and merchandising the series, we were fighting battles elsewhere, and we probably let opportunity go away. But, I think everybody recognizes that and they are making the amends -- making some plans to amend for all that. But it is going to take some time. It didn't happen overnight and it is not going to be cured overnight. But, in the meantime, we have to create great at-track, at event success stories and that would carry through to the television, I think.

Q. If I can get you to amplify, if I understand correctly, the schedule next year is going to be spread out more. Don't you think that the fact that your season was sort of truncated into a March, September situation took you out of the mind's eye for too long a period of time. NASCAR is every week. I mean, when there isn't a NASCAR race, you are surprised.

BOBBY RAHAL: No, I think there is no question that, you know, that truncated schedule was based on the feedback from our television partners and things like that, marketing people, who all thought we needed to get away from football. And so, you know, I guess we took them took their advice to heart and made those changes and I think, without question, the result was that we were out of site, out of mind. As I say, I don't think we should ever aspire to a NASCAR-type schedule because that is just ridiculous in terms of the amount of racing. And, remember, most of those races happen within about a 400 mile radius or so. So, that helps that. But, nevertheless, it is a tremendous drain on the people -- you know, the teams, and the drivers, mechanics, truck driver, you name it, and NASCAR are up and arms over it. It is just way too much. So, we should never aspire to that. But, I do believe that we have to be willing to grow our series on its own basis and not worry about whether we are going to get -- we are going to be affected by football, baseball, basketball, you name it, because that -- all those sports are going, you know, in the 9, 10 month cycles, it seems, in terms of their seasons, post season games, special events things of that nature. So, I think we do need to just worry about ourselves and build our product as best as we can given the situation that exists.

Q. We are making you a TV expert today.

BOBBY RAHAL: Whether I want to or not.

Q. How frustrating is it to really have a competitive product and maybe not have the fan interest you would hope for?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, again, it is really a selective lack of fan interest. I mean, I get the TV ratings from the CART office which is being very pro active in that so we can obviously speak from some level of knowledge with our -- for example, with our sponsors and things of that nature. And, you know, it is definitely a frustrating thing when the products at the track and the excitement at the track by the spectators is so great and that somehow we are not getting that point across. As I have said, you know, that is not -- that hasn't been -- that hasn't happened, you know, just out of the blue. It has taken a long time to get to this stage and it is going to take a long time to get back. But, you know, back to a position of health in terms of TV ratings. But, I think ultimately you have got to have the right product. You have got to have excitement about it in order to do that. TV is only a reflection of that excitement. It is not a reflect -- it is not -- can't trade junk sport day in day out and expect to draw people. They are going to catch on after a while. So, it is a frustration and it is a frustration that a lot of professional sports are facing right now and it is causing people, particularly at CART, to reassess how we have gone about things and to make the correct changes.

Q. What do you expect the next move for CART to be in terms of marketing, expect any kind of major blitz or anything like that?

BOBBY RAHAL: I think the inside CART program on the Fox Network is a start. I believe there is going to be other types of things like that down the road. Obviously, you know, we have got to work with ABC to get them to merchandise the series and the people as they do NASCAR. Whether it be ESPN or what have you. I think there is some, you know, we go head-to-head against NASCAR quite often. When we don't, we do pretty well. I think the one place that we didn't this year go head-to-head, we averaged about 3.8 or 3.9, which is pretty darn good overall. But, when we go head-to-head against NASCAR, obviously we suffer just as about any sport suffers. We have had the bad luck of going up against Tiger Woods at The Masters, things like that, where everything else suffered. But, the fact of the matter remains, I think we have just got to be a little bit smarter about when we televise and how we televise and create a schedule that allows us to, as I say, live on sort of our own live on our own basis.

Q. When this does turn around; do you still expect to be driving or have you even set a timeframe for yourself, Bobby?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I mean, I haven't set a specific timeframe. I hope I am still driving when all this turns around. I mean, like any sport, there are key players in it and there are players that needs -- whose names to be merchandised more and promoted more. Right now, I don't think there is any question that the sport revolves around guys like me and Michael and Al, Jr. and people like that because we have been around a long time. Just as NASCAR evolves around, you know, Earnhardt and Mark Martin, guys like that, who have been around a long time as well long. Obviously, Geoff Gordon being the exception to that. But, in the meantime, we have got to promote, build up Bryan Hertas and the Richie Hearns and the guys like that, those are the future American Greats in my estimation in terms of -- they are at beginning of their career and they are capable of a great many things over the years. So, the future looks good. But, over the short-term I certainly hope I am still driving when the turnaround starts to come and in terms of TV ratings and we will just take it sort of one day at a time. As I have said many times, I personally have a responsibility to this team and to Miller in particular, to produce the most competitive equation out there. And, if at any time, I don't feel that that is possible with me doing the driving, then I am going to do everything I can to step down and make sure we have a winning combination.

Q. I assume that -- Daryl Waltrip has said many times that he feels that he is as good a driver or better than a lot of drivers out there. I assume you feel the same way with your ability?

BOBBY RAHAL: I think our performances this year have shown that. Mid-Ohio pretty good. Elkhart we were right there. Michigan leading and have the accident. Rio. There have been a number of events this year where we have run the top 5 without having had a whole heck if a lot of luck. But, nevertheless, we have had a lot of good strong performances. So, for me, you know, internally, for my own psyche, I feel very comfortable with the pace and the competitiveness I have. And, I have said before in other interviews that I have always wanted my retirement not to be based on my competitiveness, but on my knowledge on when the right time was to retire. I certainly don't want to be a guy who has overstayed his welcome and who can't run the top 15 and who pretty soon finds himself hating everything he is doing at that moment in time and really kind of ends up selling his own sense of his own career. Competitive aspect of it is almost really not a factor for me.

Q. Talk about the most competitive equation out there. Right now it seems to be Alex Zanardi. When you look at him and the way he is rolling now, does it remind you of the way you must win a championship, the way you have won your championships in the past, being on a roll and you are almost invincible?

BOBBY RAHAL: I think no question about it. There is such a thing as momentum. There is such a thing as getting to feel that you cannot be beaten. Luck has a lot to do with it where you get away with things that, you know, I think Alex went off the track three times in Elkhart Lake and I think he was even surprised, from what I have read, that everything still stayed on the car. But, you have got to have that. And, when you couple that kind of luck and good fortune with preparation and a real professionalism, without a doubt, Alex is one heck of a driver. Yeah, I don't think there is any question that, you know, in 1986 when we won, I think four, five out of seven races, the last part of the season -- I mean, you go to a racetrack and not only do you feel that you can't be beat, but everybody else begins to feel that you can't be beat. And, that is an awfully strong mental position to be in.

Q. Kind of a quick question on talking about the future of yourself as a driver and maybe also as Bobby Rahal team owner of Team Rahal, do you set any goals? Do you look at 260 starts, 33 PPG Cup wins or anything along that line?

BOBBY RAHAL: Not really, I'll tell you, I never expected to do one 20 years ago, so -- and 260 starts is just a reflection that I have been around longer than everybody else in this series at this stage. But, it is -- you know, I guess I don't feel any sense of -- I guess I should feel a sense of accomplishment, but, to me, those are really just kind of numbers. As I say, I never went into the series expecting or never -- when I started racing, I never expected to run in one IndyCar race, let alone 260, and as I said, I am certainly not ready to hang it up. And, I hope there is more. But, I don't really look at that number as being, you know, something I am consciously trying to make as big as possible. I don't think there is any question that guys like Michael and Al will surpass that by a long shot because they started in CART at a much younger age than I did and really they have only been in it one year less than I have. So, my number -- that record is going to be well surpassed by guys like that.

Q. Following up, future drivers, you mentioned Herta, Hearns. What can you tell us about Michael Borkowski (ph), does he have a future with Team Rahal and does he have a future?

BOBBY RAHAL: It is difficult to say. First off, I think this has never been a better environment for young drivers to be given opportunities, you know, whether it is a Carpentier with Tony Bettenhausen or Bryan, with us or -- you look at so many of the young guys, Richie, that you spoke of. You know, Robby Gordon is still a young guy. I mean, still a -- great time is on his said in a lot of respects and he has got plenty of time to retrieve his racing reputation, and, you know, make the most of what can be a great career. There is a lot of young talent in CART Racing, in particular. I just think that bodes well. As far as Mike is concerned, you know, he is in the TransAm - in a program we have put together with Textron for him and he has done a reasonably good job in a series that is really, you know, handled by a lot of guys that have had a lot of time in those cars and are very good in those cars. And, he has done pretty well given lack of time on the circuit and everything else. I don't think his ultimate desire is in TransAm cars. I know it is CART Racing. I am hopeful we can put something together, an Indy Lights program for him for next year and then we are really going to know where he stacks up because Indy Lights today is the best training ground there is. It is extremely competitive. There are young drivers from all around the world trying to make it and if you can do well in Indy Lights right now, I think you can do well in just about anything.

Q. You touched on the subject that I wanted to get into, that is, the Indy Lights program that you are putting together. Can you give us any updates on any possible sponsors and/or drivers?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, if we do it -- I mean, we really have an obligation to Mike Borkowski (ph), if we do, he would get the first shot. And he has done a very good job this year, not just with TransAm, but also been working with the Textron people and really being a part of that company and them -- he just fits with the Textron folks very well. A lot of people speak highly of Mike who saw him in the small category, you know, Formula cars. And, so I am anxious to see him, you know, get a chance at Indy Lights and we are working hard to put the program together so he can show us his stuff.

Q. Would there be any chance to see the true sports chassis revived and developed in Indy Lights to come back in IndyCar racing?

BOBBY RAHAL: No, I am afraid that is a dead issue for us. And, you know, I really see no reason to even conceive of building our own car, look at the difficulties Roger Penske is having, even the Swift program is very much a one-off car this year. And, yes, it is competitive, but it is no more competitive than going to a Reynard and making the best of a very good basic car. I think we have to look for our advantages elsewhere.

Q. Also when I get done with this phone call I will be going to speak with the Houston Commission for the IndyCar race here next year. Is there anything I can tell them for you today?

BOBBY RAHAL: We are just looking forward. Of course, you know, my other car is sponsored in total by Shell Oil Company and I am just thrilled that after all these years of almost, not quite, we are finally going to get down to Houston and have a race and put a great race on in front of so many companies that are so major sponsors of cars and races in our series. I think that is a great move for CART and I think it is going to be great for the City of Houston and great for all those companies, particularly, Shell, who are based there.

Q. Back to the subject of the state of the sport if we can. There is an impression among some people anyway that with the split and the loss of Indianapolis that CART maybe is more concerned with its international image and its international participation and international audience than it perhaps is with the U.S. and American audience. Is that a valid impression, Bobby?

BOBBY RAHAL: No, I don't think that is valid at all. Yeah, we are going to Japan next year, but I think that makes only very good business sense. I mean, first off, Honda and Toyota are intimately involved in our series. Secondly, all the companies, 99% of the companies that sponsor teams and drivers and races in this country are involved in business in the Far East, Miller sells beer there, Shell sells oil and gasoline, so, I mean, there is a lot of good sound business reasons. Just as good sound reasons to be in Houston. And, to look at other races events here in the States or North America for that matter. I think that that is a misrepresentation, frankly, that is out there that somehow we want to be Formula I or we -- I think it is very clear that the feeling of those who run CART Racing, all the owners are on the board of directors, the feeling is very strong that this series should never lose its base as being a North American series and if we can export very interesting -- a very interesting American concept of motor racing to places like Brazil and Japan and Australia, why not. And, so, I mean even NASCAR goes to Japan, so there must be some good reason for going there. And, so I don't think that that is a fair statement whatsoever.

Q. Bobby, we talk about the type of unique American racing that comes up. And, in my mind, you have unique North American racing. If you could talk to one of my listeners who is not really intimately familiar with the three venues coming up, Vancouver, and Laguna, and the Big Old Bullet, Montana, what might you say to them?

BOBBY RAHAL: I just think that you are seeing three distinctly different challengers being faced by all the teams and the drivers and what have you. Each type of circuit represents some of the best aspects of that type of racing. It is extremely difficult on a day-in day-out basis to be competitive with all the different type of circuits that we have and yes, that is what makes, I think, being a PPG Cup Champion so valid, so legitimate is the fact that you can perform as a winner on various types of -- in various types of disciplines. And, I think that -- not to be trite -- but variety is the spice of life. And, we have plenty of it on the CART circuit. NASCAR believes in road racing to a degree as well. They believe in really the combinations are very much the same. We have, I think, about seven or eight of our races are oval races. So, you know, each challenge is a difficult one and that is what makes it so interesting, I think, not just for the people who compete and participate, but those who watch.

Q. Conventional wisdom would say that with a young guy like Bryan Herta on the team and you with all the experience that you are going to be the guy that imparts little bits of knowledge to help him drive faster. One of the things that Bryan mentioned last time we talked to him was you taught him left foot braking. But, he also said that perhaps Bobby had learned a few things for him especially on road courses and I am just curious if that is the case and if so, what kind of things have you learned from Bryan?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I am proud to say you can teach an old doing new tricks, Billy. I just think that, like any time, that you are around sort of someone else who is very competitive you find out where, why am I slower, or where I am faster or where I am slower and how does he achieve that there and how can I take advantage of that, and yet, maintain my advantage that I have on the other parts of the circuit, and whether it is really being able to maximize fuel which we went the longest of anybody at Mid-Ohio. And, it really paid off for us at the end. And, it would have paid off even more had it not gone yellow with two laps to go. But, it is conserving fuel; whether it is taking it easier on the breaks; whether it is setting the car up a little bit differently. You know, I think there is no question, whether it was Bryan or anybody else, you tend to use the other person as a yardstick. I know when the Galles Team had its great years which is when Al and I were there, I think Al, Jr. and I basically motivated each other. Our competition was within the team; not outside of it. All that did really was raise the level of the team's game. And as a result, it allowed Al to win the championship in what was it in '90, I guess, and we ran very strong, both and he and I over a two year period. I see the same kinds of things going on right now.

Q. How does the exchange of ideas happen between you two? Do you kind of go up to one another and say: "How did you do that?" Or is the data is showing this? How is that?

BOBBY RAHAL: There is some of that comparing notes. There is some, you know, just casual chatter, if nothing else. But, there is -- certainly, you can look at the data if you are interested and to see where you are losing, what have you, really gives you a clear -- it is a very clear indicator of what is going on.

Q. Have you ever had a situation where you don't really know why you do something faster or go to a particular corner faster, but then because of Bryan, everybody starts to analyze it and then you find out why you go, oh, I have been doing that for 20 years --

BOBBY RAHAL: I think that is probably true because a lot of times the things you can't explain are the things you do -- sort of do subconsciously they seem natural and sometimes natural things are -- oftentimes, natural things are hard to explain, you know, because of the mechanics don't seem to be part of it. And, yet, of course, they are, but you just don't sense it as much. And there is no question you get a few questions; the more you start think about it, well, yeah, I guess I am doing this and the reason I am doing this is because it does that and one thing leads to another sort of in the conversation and then you get a wind of what you are doing out there. But, I will say that doesn't mean that when you go back out, you start thinking about what you are doing. Again those things that are natural just sort of seem to happen automatically.

Q. You have been outspoken in the past about various issues from the CART/IRL fight, whatnot, and we just talked earlier in this phone call about marketing the television numbers. If you had the ability to say "Let us do this," how would you approach the problem in marketing CART better and, you know, everybody on this teleconference is pretty pro CART and we follow it quite religiously. Are we doing a good job?

BOBBY RAHAL: First off, we have to put some perspective to this. I am extremely supportive of what Andrew and his staff are now doing. To give you a little bit of perspective, about a year ago, basically Andrew presented a plan, Andrew Craig presented a plan to take this series to the next level. And, the only way he was going to be able to do that was to create an organization. There never was really an organization at CART and that, more than anything, probably had a lot to do with where why we are where we are. For whatever reasons, that just was a reality. The reality 10, 15 years ago was that the board of directors was made up of people who loved racing and did it, I won't say for fun, because it was never competitive anyway, but their livelihoods weren't directly dependent on the success of the series. In the last three to five years that has changed dramatically, whereas, now the majority of the board members are people like myself, Steve Horne, Barry Green, Cal Wells, Tony Bettenhausen, Derrick Walker, you know, guys like that. I am missing a bunch, I know, whose livelihoods are directly dependent on the success of the series. When you -- There is a very important change that comes with that. And, as a result, even though Andrew is having to fight all these rear-guard actions towards the speedway and there were suits flying back and forth, as you know, and all this other stuff. In the midst of all that, Andrew was putting together a very strong group, I think, of executives to take this series into a new level. Guys like Volholland (ph) who did the Atlanta Olympics, he is doing all of our merchandising our licensing and has done a fantastic job to date. We have got Microsoft as one of our partners, some majors names with great credibility and what have you, and we are not seeing the benefit of that, but it is going to come very shortly. Same thing, we have now a fellow Keith, who came from Fox TV, who is running the TV programming. We have got a new marketing director who is going to take -- Mr. Cohen, who is going to take, you know, I mean, really allow Andrew to do what he does best and free up the time to go out and really build this series. So, we are not -- we are just starting to see some of the results of that sort of formation and we are really going to see it in the next -- start to see it in the next six months, I believe. So, we have to be a little bit patient. But, I think, if nothing else, there has been a huge recognition by the board and by Andrew and his staff that, you know, everything isn't fine and that we have got to work overtime to write this ship. The racing is the best in the world. And, yet, somehow we are not getting that across to the public and the entire, I guess, the real mandate is to get it across to the public and make it an everyday desirable product for the people watching TV.

Q. Do you think we, as the media, are getting it across? I know we try to focus on tidbits of information but is there something that we should be expanding our coverage to get it --

BOBBY RAHAL: I think some of it you can't report on because, as I say, some of these things were, you know, want to talk about them after they have happened. You don't want to talk about them before. Because you would hate to make pronouncements and then have them not come through. I think credibility is a very key element to what we are trying to do here. But, no, I think in general, it is pretty good. Certainly, the IRL-CART situation continues to come up and it is continuing to be an issue. Although, I think, frankly, it is much less of one now than it was a year ago and over time, it will come even less so. You know, the most important thing we can do is build our series. And, I think there is a recognition on the part of everybody that, you know, come hell or high water, that is what is going to make or break this series; not the split with the IRL, not NASCAR; not anything else.

Q. We should just get back to business as usual and just work at it.

BOBBY RAHAL: I believe so, yes.

Q. Just a quick follow-up, you mentioned that you are looking at Indy Lights program for next year. I first watched you race at the old Westwood circuit. Would you be looking at expanding that Indy Lights program into an Atlantic program?

BOBBY RAHAL: That is hard to say. Indy Lights is not a pushover by any means. It is tough racing. And, you know, I think we have to be careful that we don't spread ourselves out too much. I think Indy Lights is a positive addition to what we are doing because not only say it is a great place for us to bring young drivers, but it is a great place to get young mechanics experiences so that they can make the step up. Really, it is a proving ground for a lot of different positions. But, for us to expand beyond that, at this stage of the game, I think, is probably asking a bit much.

Q. I read recently where you were talking about your relationship with Bryan Herta on the team and how you said he is a big boy, he doesn't need you to kind of pick him up when things are going bad. Who picks Bobby Rahal up when you start maybe feeling a little bit down and feeling a little bit frustrated, who keeps Bobby Rahal going?

BOBBY RAHAL: Oh, I have got great people around me on this team and, obviously, my wife, and the people who care about me. And, you know, who I care about. Particularly, in this team here, there are a lot of people -- you know, all you have to do is look around, you start feeling sorry for yourself, you have to look around and look at the effort people are putting in here and you quickly realize that, you know, there are no quitters on this team and that the last -- the last guy to be one should be you, so get your act together and get with it. There is no question that when you are so close and yet so far, it does have an effect on yourself confidence whatever. But it only takes one race to get it all back again. So, it is, you know, I guess I have never had too much problems with that aspect of it. A lot of it is just built, frankly, on the pride that, you know, you can do it and you get mad, frankly, and that motivates you. But, without question, you can't do it yourself. You have got to have great people around you and I am fortunate to have that.

Q. Brief follow-up. Are you still going to the track every week believing that you are going to win that week?

BOBBY RAHAL: I believe that we have a -- yes, I do. I wouldn't go, frankly, if I felt we are running for 6th or what have you. I go there knowing it is going to be very hard work. That it isn't going to be a pushover. But, I go knowing that we have the best mechanics and I think the best engineers and that we are going to put an effort on the race track that is tough to beat and in some races that is the case. And, in some races -- we can't -- you know, we just get lost or we can't find our way necessarily sometimes. Luckily, those are very few. But, I look at, you know, I look Team Penske. Everybody in racing uses them as a yardstick. And you look at the difficulties that they are having, nobody ever owns anything. You are just allowed to compete aggressively over -- the sport only allows you so much. And, No. 2, that it isn't easy. And, that just because you have achieved success in the past, doesn't mean you are going to achieve it in the future. And, that you have got to really just focus on the job at hand and not worry about what happened before and what is going to happen six months from now.

Q. Bobby, you touched on the other team and not expanding (inaudible) I have heard discussion that you must be looking at another kind of a second team. Can you comment on that?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, we have given it a brief look. I think that it is an interesting series. Our association with Ford is very important to me and if Ford said they would be interested in doing something, then we would as well. However, at this stage of the game, I don't see anything forthcoming from our standpoint, at least, this year, this coming year. Now, what the future may hold, I don't know. I am a little disappointed that the series hasn't caught on any better than it has because those are the, you know, the basis for the biggest segment of automobile sales, you know, the companies, you know, Ford, Toyota, Honda, BMW, you name it, that is the bulk of the automobile sales these days. So, you would have thought it would have caught on a little bit quicker. But, you know, over time it may. I think the concept is an interesting one. But, we just -- in the near future, I don't see us getting involved at this stage.

Q. A year ago the perception was of course that the one advantage anybody might have would be Honda and it seems like this car make has been somewhat equalized this year and certainly the engine situation seems a lot more equal. Obviously, Goodyear, has had its problems. That has got to be a little bit demoralizing when you go to track. But, do you see these things as just being cyclical; that a year from now it might be totally turned around?

BOBBY RAHAL: I hope. I mean, you always hope -- you always know it is a cycle. You are just never sure what part of the cycle you are in. That is a very -- the tire war today has the biggest impact, I think, on the performance of a given time or a given driver - more influence than any other single component. I have been with Goodyear a long time and I feel they have tremendous capability -- you know, let us face it, Firestone, Bridgestone has done a tremendous job and continues to do a tremendous job. But, as I know, as I learned in the Honda situation, you know, things can turn around overnight. And, you know, as I say, I think the thing that real -- you really wonder about is what part of the cycle you are in, what stage of it. I do know that the Goodyear people are bound and determined to beat this challenge and yet I also know that the Firestone people are bound and determined to beat back any challenge. So it is an interesting time for us team owners who have to make the decisions as to which tire company they may go with in the future.

T.E. McHALE: Thank you. With that, we will wrap it up for today. We want to thank you, Bob, for being with us and wish you best of luck in the upcoming Molson Indy Vancouver this weekend and in the race at Laguna Seca beyond that. Thank you all for joining us this afternoon. And, we will talk to you again next week.

BOBBY RAHAL: Thank you.



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