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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Max Papis
Bobby Rahal
August 31, 1998


TE McHALE: Welcome to everybody. Thanks for joining us this afternoon. We have a large number of callers on the line. At this point I'm going to turn it over to Tom Blattler of Miller Brewing who as an announcement. Go ahead, TB.

TOM BLATTLER: We're here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this afternoon for a major announcement that was just made here at the Miller Brewing Company for the media on hand. That announcement was, Team Rahal principals Bobby Rahal and David Letterman announced today Max Papis will replace Rahal as driver of the No. 7 Miller Lite Reynard Ford Cosworth for the 1999 championship auto racing teams FedEx Championship Series. Papis, 28, of Newport Beach, California is a veteran of world class competition, including Formula 1, Formula 3000, World Sports Cars, Formula 3 and most recently CART Championship cars. For the past two years, Papis has driven the Arciero-Wells championship car and participated in the development of Toyota engine. Papis, a native of Italy, currently ranks 20th in the CART FedEx point standings with a best finish of eighth this year at Toronto and has competed in 34 career CART races dating back to 1996. Papis will team with veteran Bryan Herta in Team Rahal's two-car operation in the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series. Herta will drive the Shell Oil Reynard in 1999. At this point in time, I'd like to introduce Bobby Rahal, principal of Team Rahal, who has five races remaining in the 1998 season before he announces his retirement from the driver's seat. Bob, go right ahead.

BOBBY RAHAL: Thanks, Tom. I'd just like to welcome everybody on behalf of David and myself and our entire team. We're obviously very excited about today. I have been a big admirer of Max on a number of different fronts. I feel that this process was a late starter, only really due to the professionalism of Cal Wells and group were we able to put this together. We're excited. As I say, I have a lot of respect for Max's talents, and I think it's now up to us to give him the kind of equipment that will allow him to win some races for us next year. And I think frankly, having both Max and Bryan is going to make a formidable one-two punch. Although I have five races left, obviously I'm excited about how we're going to do in those races, this news today and going forward from this point on is making my excitement for next year and beyond even more so. I'm looking forward to it. Look forward to answering your questions. With that, I'll shut up.

TOM BLATTLER: I also want to introduce Brad Perrigo, manager of motor sports for Miller Brewing. I know, Brad, we're excited here at Miller. Could you speak a little bit on what happened today here at the brewery?

BRAD PERRIGO: Thanks, TB. I can't state enough how excited and how proud we are to have Max on board and as part of the Miller Light racing team. It's not easy to replace a racing legend like a Bobby Rahal with all he's accomplished both on the track and off the track. It's big shoes to fill. But we think that Max Papis has all the ingredients to be successful in the race car and off the track, as well. We're looking forward to getting started with Max in the race car.

TOM BLATTLER: Thanks, Brad. Now we move over to Mr. Papis. Max, they're saying a lot of nice things about you. I know they said that again today. What is your feeling on today's announcement?

MAX PAPIS: First of all, hello everybody, good morning. It's a great day for me. I'm really, really excited, you know, to drive and succeed Bobby. After all the accomplishment he did in his life, he choose me to replace him. He's a great honor. Thanks to Cal Wells, MCI, Toyota, who gave me the opportunity to join CART racing and show my talent. Next year, you know, I'm ready to do something else. I'm ready to give all my will to succeed to Team Rahal, Miller Light, and to the old team, and get some satisfaction.

TOM BLATTLER: Thanks, very much, Max. TE, that's our announcement today. If you want to open it up to your questions, go right ahead.

TE McHALE: Thanks a lot, TB. Another reminder there are a large number of calls on the line today. If you could limit yourselves to one question and a follow-up, I'm sure the other callers would appreciate it.

Q. Bobby, there was a lot of talk along the way as you were choosing this driver that Miller would have preferred an American driver and possibly somebody who was a little bit more established, but what was your thinking all the way along this? How did you come to make this decision?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, first off, I think Miller -- this whole process has been in cooperation with Miller. Really ever since about a year ago, when I expressed to the Miller folks that I wanted to retire, we had Rahal's Last Ride. The driver replacement aspect is just one aspect of that whole thing. Really the biggest, the single biggest criteria that we were looking for is we needed somebody that we felt was capable of winning, irrespective of nationality or what have you. With Max, I think we have somebody who not only has won in other categories, but has shown very well in a development situation. Obviously, Max is very strong off the track as well. He's personable. I mean, when we looked at the options, Max clearly was our first choice. So I'm very pleased. I think he's going to do a wonderful job. It's up to us now to give him the equipment that he needs to win.

Q. Bob, what's the length of the contract?

BOBBY RAHAL: It's a multiple-year contract. I think that's really the only way it can -- the one-year contracts don't do anybody any good. It's multiple year. You know, it's my hope that if everything is as successful as we think, our relationship will extend for many, many years to come.

Q. Bobby, just driving against Max on the track for the last year and a half, what is it about his driving that struck you?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I think a couple things. But, number one, he's aggressive. He obviously drives the hell out of that car. You know, I think he's always pushing, as Bryan always pushes, I think the intensity level is such in the series today that you have to have people that are willing to really put it on the edge and continue to try to do their best. Any development situation is a tough one. I know that firsthand. I think one of the things that also struck me about Max is the fact that amidst all the difficulties that development situations entail, you never heard him once be critical. He was definitely a team player. I think he just showed a professionalism both in the car and out of the car that I think any team looks for in a driver.

Q. Max, are you surprised to be getting this shot or have you felt short of shackled for the last year and a half as far as being able to show your true talent in a series like this?

MAX PAPIS: When I came over here, United States, and Cal gave me this opportunity to drive for them the Toyota car, I knew I had to develop the engine, and I knew I had to go through some difficult times. But we made lots of progress. I'm really, really pleased of what we achieved up to now. I came here with a lot of will to succeed, and the only goal was winning. You know, I'm really, really proud that Bobby choose me to replace him. This is a great honor, this is a great honor. I've been working all my life to achieve my goals, and my goals as a person, and as a driver, and I believe that the next year with the Miller car, you know, Ford power, and Bobby there, you know, as a boss of the team, we can get a lot of satisfaction.

Q. Do you still live in Newport Beach?

MAX PAPIS: I am living in Newport Beach.

Q. Are you going to move to central Ohio or continue to live in Newport Beach?

MAX PAPIS: I will keep my house in Newport Beach, but I am willing -- I want to spend a lot of time close to the race shop. Actually, I think Bobby and Bobby's wife are preparing a room for me in their house so I can disturb them a lot (laughter).

Q. Is that true, Bobby?

BOBBY RAHAL: Absolutely.

Q. Max, congratulations, first of all.

MAX PAPIS: Thank you.

Q. Obviously, Max, over the past few years, you've had a number of opportunities for some mid field Formula 1 teams, then a very good IMSA team, then of course the whole Cal Wells program. You were generally the fastest Toyota driver this year, and you have shown a lot to those of us who get to stand track side. Do you feel this is the biggest break of your career, Max? What do you feel -- do you feel you really have something to prove now or is it really just a case of attacking what should be the most thorough and professional program that you've really had available to you?

MAX PAPIS: As you say, I've been working very hard to achieve my goals. I came here in the States with a dream of being a successful person, a successful driver. Of course, you know, Bobby's opportunity is a really, really special one. But, you know, I don't feel I have to prove anything. You know, like I have to prove to myself first and I have to improve all the time, but I want to work really hard just as I've done up to now with Cal, in two and a half years of development, drive as fast as I can, and just show my personality in and out of the track. Of course, you know, it's a fantastic honor for me to replace Bobby. Bobby is a legend. I knew a few things when I was back in Europe about motor racing in the States, and Bobby was one of these persons. You know, I just have no word to say how much honored I am for that. I build up a very special relation with all my friends down there in PPI team, from Cal to Mark Johnson to my mechanics, and I will leave some friend, and I am looking forward to find other friends and build very special relations in Team Rahal. As you say, I build up my career, as you could see, working very hard for achieving only one goal. I hope I can contribute to Team Rahal bringing all the will to succeed and all the hunger I have inside to really be a consistent winner next year.

Q. Bobby, I wonder if you know at this stage of the game when Max will have his first run in one of your cars, how his testing program will begin to unfold in the off-season?

BOBBY RAHAL: I think we don't have the plans that specific yet. But certainly, you know, very shortly after the last race there's going to be tire testing, there's going to be some other hardware testing. It would be our hope, obviously, to get Max going in that situation as fast as possible just so he gets to know everybody and we get to know him a bit.

Q. Bobby, I had a question. The fact that it was a bit of a controversy, or was a bit of a point that you chose a driver of European heritage versus one that was American. A lot of that is a result of the Indy racing league, which was kind of founded on that series of being a series for American drivers. The fact that you chose Max, obviously his driving ability came first, but will that seek to be less of an issue and do you think there is going to be -- we've heard rumblings about the reconciliation between CART and the IRL. Is this in some ways an indication that maybe there's going to be a thaw there, you'll be racing again together, really nationality won't become really an issue anymore?

BOBBY RAHAL: I don't know if it is an issue really. The guy who has won the last three IRL races was Swedish. I think the reality is, like hockey and baseball, the good old US of A, I think all the different nationalities that participate in a sport add value to it, make it even more special. So certainly an American, having an American, would be a valid criteria. I think certainly Bryan, last time I checked, was American. But it's not the only criteria. This team has worked very hard over the last five, six years. We've knocked on the door so many times, the door of winning. We've been so close on so many occasions. The primary motivation and the primary reasons for the choice of Max is that I need -- this team needs the two strongest people out there in those cars. And with Bryan and with Max, I think we've got that. I'm excited about what I think Max is going to create a lot of fireworks, and I think Bryan and he are just going to push each other so that they're going to take this team the heights that we've dreamed about, frankly.

Q. Bobby, supplemental question. You mentioned Bryan and the chemistry that might develop between Bryan and Max. Bryan is one of those drivers who is probably the most overdue in the series now to win a race. He's come so close so many times, there have been circumstances, his own mistakes that have contributed to that. Do you think now in some ways being out of your shadow, the fact that you're stepping back as an owner, is going to -- I don't know, I'm just speculating -- lessen some pressure on Bryan?

BOBBY RAHAL: As I said earlier, I think I was in a very strong two-car team at one time with Galles Kraco with Al Jr. as my teammate. I think at that time Galles Kraco was probably the most successful team out there, or certainly one of you. I think it was only because Al and I pushed each other, we almost competed with each other first before we worried about everybody else. As a result, we just kind of elevated everything. I see that happen in this case. Bryan is a professional. I have all the faith in the world in Bryan's capabilities. I think, as I said earlier, this grouping, this pair of drivers that we're going to have is just going to motivate each other to just extend themselves that much more, and by proxy really the whole team, so that we can go out and realize, you know, all the efforts that we've put in, and not only win races, but win championships.

Q. Max, talk a little bit about when you were test driving in Formula 1 for Alex Zanardi, just how you guys both end up over here. Whatever happens to him, he's made his mark here. Do you find it ironic? Have you talked about that in the past year or so?

MAX PAPIS: Definitely with Alex, the relation started way before Lotus. We knew each other since we were 14, 15 years of old. We developed a very special relation, you know, inside the track and outside the track. Of course, I came here in the States looking for the American dream, building up success, working hard. We shared a lot of emotions. I was really, really proud when Alex could win and could achieve some of his goals. I met him yesterday. He was really proud for me, for the movie had, I did. I hope I can carry the same momentum he's carrying here, you know, in United States racing. Together with the American flag of Bobby Rahal's team, I would really like to bring up my Italian flag there on the podium, as well, shortly.

Q. Bobby, can you talk briefly, did you talk to Zanardi at all about Max and his Formula 1 experience?

BOBBY RAHAL: Actually, I didn't speak with Alex. This is really kind of a late -- Max is kind of a late entry, I guess, to the contest. It was only because of Cal Wells' willingness to help Max, it really was not something that I had spent a lot of time looking into other than my own experience with Max in the drivers' meetings and on the track obviously. I know with people who we value their opinion, people in racing had some very strong recommendations about Max. Really when we understood that there was that possibility, when you sort of consider the entire mix that Max represents, it was an easy choice for us to make.

Q. Max, in your time at Wells, you were basically learning the ropes of Champ car racing with a thoroughly professional team, but obviously not in the situation you will be next year with an accomplished driver like Bryan as a teammate, and obviously a three-time champion in Bobby as the team owner, a guy who can doubtless help take you to the next level in terms of winning races. I wondered if you could talk about what you're looking forward to in terms of working with Bryan and working with Bobby next year as a driver and what you can learn from both of them?

MAX PAPIS: First of all, I'm really thrilled and excited of this new situation. You don't have to forget that this year I had my hard task because I have in the team a previous CART winner, pole center, as Robby Gordon. You know, we are not running up there in the front, but we are having very close battle, and he's a winner as well. I'm looking forward to meet, spend some time with Bryan and Bob, and understand the chemistry that we'll have to be within us. We have to develop a human relation first, that's the base of a professional relation, and later on understand each other of the good and bad things, being very, very honest, not compromise. We'll be very open. That's what I will be. And, of course, you know, Bryan Herta will be there, and will be one of the top contenders. But, you know, I just don't want to kick only his ass, I want to kick everybody's ass.

Q. On that same theme, Bobby, obviously Max clearly has the speed and the aggressiveness that you want in a driver to go fast. As everyone I think realizes, it takes at some level more than just speed to win races and to become a champion. Again, if you could talk a little bit about what you have seen in Max that you think he possesses that is going to enable him to get to that level and what Team Rahal can do to help get him there?

BOBBY RAHAL: You know, Max has won obviously some big races, sports car racing, Formula 3000 was certainly not easy to win. I think that once a driver has won, they never really forget how to do it; it's just a matter if they get on a roll, then pretty soon they become unstoppable. I think Max to me has proven that he's just as adept on the ovals as he is on the road courses. Obviously, that's an important criteria for us. You know, I guess I don't look at it as much of a risk. I mean, you always take a risk in a driver choice, but I think Max, particularly when you gauge him against competition with like equipment, Max has proven himself quite well. As Max is saying, you know, Robby, I have a lot of respect for Robby's talents, and Robby is a proven winner, pole sitter. We all know Robby can be faster than hell. Max has been right there or ahead, so I think us developing a close relationship, and Max with his mechanics and engineer, his new opportunity, that he should be a strong contender. Nobody knew Alex Zanardi either in a general sense, and he was at the depth of his career in some respects. Now, of course, he's one of the hottest commodities in racing. I mean, obviously we hope Max does even better. But I think that Max is the kind of person that will work well within the framework of a team. As I said earlier, he and Bryan both are going to do a lot to achieve the successes that this team has worked so hard for.

Q. Bobby, I wanted to ask you a little bit, if you could elaborate on what Cal did to help you with this decision, and also the number of people that you talked to, just generally how the search procedure worked, how it came down to Max?

BOBBY RAHAL: Just the search procedure, you identify people that you felt could be, number one, available; and, number two, who could live up to the kind of expectations or standards that you might have. As you might imagine, you get all kinds of interest from all kinds of people at all kinds of level, including a lot from those who have never driven a race car before. The search was a relatively narrow one. Frankly, it wasn't until I understood that, given the right kind of a situation, that Cal would step -- would really step up to the plate and in a sporting sense make Max available did we even consider that. Once I understood that, we quickly met with Max. You know, we were able to put a deal together very quickly, and here we are. But, as I say, it was kind of a last-minute situation, only because I did not know that Max could be made available to the right situation.

Q. Just so I can understand this, did Cal actually call you and say, "Max is available"? How did that shake down?

BOBBY RAHAL: No. That was an understanding that Max and Cal had really as friends, I think, more than employer/employee. Maybe I can let Max explain that better than me.

Q. That would be good.

MAX PAPIS: It's a very simple situation, you know. Me and Cal and all my MCI Toyota team, Mark Johnson, general manager, we build up a relation that goes way beyond motor racing. We are really good friends. About three weeks ago, I believe, something like that, we were sitting down at the table in my house with Cal. We basically agreed to continue to working together. Cal told me, like if it would be an opportunity, a really, really strong opportunity, I will consider it. Therefore, you know, what Cal did, basically is stood up for his word, as I stood up for driving as hard as I could, up till now, what I will do in the next five races. This thing goes way beyond motor racing. This thing goes into a lot of human feeling and a lot of special factors. You know, I have no word first to say how much I'm proud of driving for Bob, and how special is Cal Wells to me. I heard a lot of speculation that really hurt me because, you know, just Cal did a move as a friend and allowed me to get an opportunity in life that is really special, and he will always be my friend. We will always be together. Life goes on. You know, this is just a special opportunity provided by two very special people.

Q. Max, you had a signed contract with Cal for next year. Can you talk about how the opportunity came around for you to get involved with Bobby?

MAX PAPIS: The opportunity came, I see Bobby almost every week because we're racing together. You know, we meet in the driver meeting and the track, like this. Just the situation, you know, came by itself. Nobody has been looking for anything. Just, you know, as Bobby say, the situation, when he knew it was maybe an opportunity to make myself available, I'm sure he considered this opportunity, and there it is, you know. Next thing, I'm driving the Miller Ford car. It's much more simple than what people think. You just come up to people choices, and that's what happened.

Q. Obviously, you had your sights set on Formula 1 as a youngster. Do you still look over there as a possibility later in your career or is your focus now on the Championship Series over here?

BOBBY RAHAL: My focus is winning anything that will be champion, car, LeMans, Formula 1, I want to win. Now I have a goal. I want to help Bobby's team and the Miller car to be a consistent front-runner and to be a winner. You know, I don't make plans. I just wait what things come, you know, how things come. And I just make the best of what I can, and drive within my capabilities. You know, just show my personality. But my goal is showing everybody and myself first that I have capability of a winner, and later on, you know, life -- many times people dream about things, and they ask themselves why. I dream about things, and I work to achieve my goals, and I work to make my dreams coming true. This is what I'm doing here.

Q. Bobby, you mentioned that Max is a late-comer in this whole process. We sort of understood how that happened. Who were the early runners? In other words, who else did you consider? Can you specifically talk to a lot of discussion that said you were considering Jimmy Vasser or Heinz-Harald Frentzen?

BOBBY RAHAL: Certainly I spoke for Jimmy for quite some time. I have a lot of respect for Jimmy. I think Jimmy had a lot of loyalty to Target and his mechanics, what have you, and felt -- I'm not sure if he's actually signed or not, but I think he felt that was a situation that was very important to him, and I respect him for that. We talked to Heinz-Harald and others, you know. Believe me, there were a lot of interrupted night's sleep, me staring at the ceiling thinking about what was going to be the best choice for this team. The problem is, there's so many strong candidates, how do you differentiate one from the other? How do you make the decision? You know, to be honest, when Max -- when the opportunity came up with Max, I think especially having met with him over the years just in drivers' meetings, getting to know him a little bit, and with his past record, I mean, it was a very easy choice for us to make. I can't thank Cal enough because, as I say, I think he did something that is very unique in any sport, let alone racing. We're very, very excited about it.

Q. Max, in the past you've said in your heart you've always been a little kid. How tough was it to kind of hide that enthusiasm after talking to Bobby about getting a ride for next year?

MAX PAPIS: That's a good question. You know, it was very difficult, I mean, I'm a man with a lot of emotions. At the beginning, I was a little bit shocked because it was a lot of mixed emotion, you know, emotion of joining a really successful team with a legendary owner, and emotion of having to leave all my friends there in PPI and MCI racing and Toyota, they helped me so much to achieve this goal. So I didn't know. It was difficult to mix the two things. But I know I have friends around. The most important things is that now I have a goal, I have five races to go with Cal and MCI, and I want to give them as maximum satisfaction as I can. From November 2nd, I will be -- it will be Miller Time for Max, and I will start the new page in my life. I tell you, my family were really, really proud to hear from me that Bobby wanted me as his successor, and I'm very proud, too.

Q. Max, the fact that Toyota is still a little ways away from becoming a consistent winner, did that play a part in your decision to take Bobby's offer?

MAX PAPIS: I knew that when I joined MCI Toyota team I had to fight very hard. I had a possibility of making results, but in the same time I knew I had to go through tough moments. For sure satisfaction hasn't been there. But I wouldn't say that, you know -- I'm already a lucky man. I'm doing a special thing. I'm one of the 28 guys who can have -- who can ride one of these Champ cars, and I was just happy for the situation it was. For sure, you know, Toyota, they are working hard, they are developing their engines, and I feel I contribute a lot, as many other people, to getting this package into the top 12 finishers at the moment. But when someone like legendary name Bobby Rahal comes and tells, "Do you want to replace me," these opportunities don't come very often in life, and this is what played the biggest part in my decision.

Q. Bobby, had you already decided on someone else when the opportunity to get Max came along?

BOBBY RAHAL: No, no, no. I think that's why we were able to react quickly. We were absolutely sort of -- we weren't committed to anyone. Obviously, you know, there were people that there were some fairly substantive discussions with. But this is just an opportunity I think we all feel very comfortable with and good about. Luckily, we were in a position to be able to jump.

Q. I didn't mean whether you had already sort of promised the job to somebody, but not even in your own mind?

BOBBY RAHAL: No, not really. That's -- I was entertaining the concepts of all kinds of different people. Because there were some people from different aspects of racing that were, you know, that merited some strong consideration. And, frankly, just the opportunity to sign Max was so strong, the reasoning so strong for doing it, we were able to make the decision, be very comfortable about it.

Q. Bobby, through the search for your new driver, what stood out as the biggest surprise for you?

BOBBY RAHAL: The biggest surprise for me, I don't know. I guess how much indecision and how many things you have to consider, not ever having had to -- I mean, when we expanded to a two-car effort, Bryan was a clear choice for us. That was very easy to do. This time around, you know, particularly because, as I said earlier, we want to win. Maybe because of that, it made the determination or the decision-making process such a laborious one. It wasn't like we were going to get a second chance. You know, we had to make the right decision the first time. As a result, there was a lot of discussion and a lot of thinking between myself and my key people within the team, obviously Miller. That would probably be the thing that struck me most out of the situation.

Q. Max, about three years ago you and I were sitting down in the press room at Daytona for the 24 hours of Daytona, the race had just ended, talking about your future in the US. You said one of the things that you wanted to do was to prove to Americans that you could race and introduce yourself to Americans. That goal I think has been accomplished.

MAX PAPIS: Thank you, very much. You met me when I came first time ever in United States. You could see in that race how much will I have, I had and still have in my heart of succeeding. It's a great honor for me being offered this opportunity. For next year, for 1999, I want to give Bobby and I want to give Miller and my family a lot of pride because I want to go there and show everybody, myself, what I'm capable of doing.

Q. Bobby, we've kind of danced around the idea that you found out Max was available. I'm just sitting here guessing through it all. Was it a matter at perhaps of drivers' meeting at Mid-Ohio words were exchanged? Can you reveal that?

BOBBY RAHAL: I mean, really it was just a very innocent conversation. We were in hotel. I think there was a press conference. We were in a hotel sort of killing time. I just asked, Max and I were talking about it. He wondered if I had picked anybody yet. I said no. It sort of came from that. As I say, I had assumed that Max was taken. I made a promise I wouldn't try to go out and poach somebody. With the way it was presented, however, and then with Cal's blessing, we went forward. As I say, it would not have happened without Cal and his group doing the things that they did. Obviously, I'm appreciative to Cal. I'm sure -- now Cal's got some work to do on his own behalf. I've always respected Cal anyway. He's a board member, along with me, at CART. I've always respected his insights, just the way he goes about things. This just even goes a lot further to confirm that and strengthen it in my mind.

Q. Great to see the level of sportsmanship.

BOBBY RAHAL: For all this talk about big business in racing, various other things, how it's all so cut-throat, I think this is more the norm than what you hear. Certainly it exemplifies the sporting spirit of what motor racing is all about.

Q. Just a detail. Do you remember where the hotel conversation took place? Had to be in Ohio or Elkhart Lake?

BOBBY RAHAL: Early August, I think, late July or early August. I can't tell you the name of the hotel, no. It was one of many hotels I've seen in the last two weeks. Excuse me if I don't remember exactly.

Q. I was talking to Ron Fellows with whom you won a couple years ago. He said, I have to tell you, way to go Maxy.

MAX PAPIS: We shared a car, the Ferrari, in the Daytona 24 hour this year. We led for 19 hours. I'm really pleased. Ron is a very special guy. I'm pleased that he's proud of me. This is what drives me in my life, you know, a lot of human relation and achieving my goals.

Q. He seemed very pleased for you, that's for sure.

MAX PAPIS: Thank you.

Q. I know you've given up CART racing. Do you have any plans to drive anything next year?

BOBBY RAHAL: Max is already trying to convince me to go run LeMans. To be honest, I thought long and hard about that prior to making my announcement last November of my retirement. I just don't think it would be fair to Max, certainly to Bryan, to all the people on our team if I was off messing around in some other kind of racing. I mean, the whole point to my retirement was because I feel I'm ready to make the move to just focus solely on the business side and the sporting side of CART and the business side of our team, what have you. I pretty much -- not pretty much. I made a commitment to myself and to my family that this would be it. Frankly, for me, once you've driven these cars, which are the most exciting cars in the world to drive, I think, I'm not sure I could get motivated to drive anything else. I may go off, I found one of my old Formula Atlantic cars, I may go play around and tell lies like all those guys to at the vintage car races about how great we were. No, I'm committed to the business side and to directing this team to achieving the wins that we've worked hard for. I brought that up a number of times, but I can't tell you how hard this team has worked over the years to win races. We've been so close so many times, knocked on the door so much, that it's time for me just to do what I can to ensure that we open those doors up and walk through them. That's by bringing in Max to partner Bryan. I think it's a hell of a one-two punch, as I said earlier.

TE McHALE: At this point I'm going to step in and say we'll take one final question.

Q. Bobby, we've talked about how Max is going to fill your shoes next year. What will be the most difficult part about leaving the driver's seat?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, first off, I think it's important, I don't want Max to fill my shoes; I want him to create his own footprints, create the things that are going to make him special in this sport. That's by not trying to live up to something I've done; that's going to be by fulfilling the capabilities that he has. But having said that, you know, I think the challenges are going to be for us to stay focused and to do the things that we're capable of doing. For me, there are going to be times when I miss racing. There's no question about it. I think I'd be lying to you and everybody if I didn't think that there were going to be times that I missed it. But that hasn't been the criteria. The criteria for me has been my value to this team. There are some aspects of racing I'll miss, there are some that I'm not going to miss for a second. I'm 45 years old. It's time for me to commit to certain other aspects of the sport, and also to my family who has certainly, you know, run second at times, I hate to admit, to this business and this sport. Because it does consume you. It's time for me to give a little bit back to them and try to make up for the last 25 years.

TE McHALE: Thank you. At this point we'll wrap it up for the day, unless Tom Blattler has anything he wishes to add.

TOM BLATTLER: I want to thank everybody for participating. We look forward to working with everybody next year, the last five races of this season. If you need anything, I think most people now how to get ahold of us. I believe there is going to be a transcript as well, is that right, TE?

TE McHALE: Yes, we will have a transcript probably in a couple hours of this teleconference for any of those who you need it, plus it will be posted on Marlboro Racing News as well. I want to thank Bobby Rahal and Max Papis for joining us. I want to congratulate them on their new arrangement, wish them the best of luck this season and on into the future.

MAX PAPIS: Thank you.

BOBBY RAHAL: Thank you.



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