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Indy Car Racing Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Racing League

Indy Car Racing Media Conference

Mauricio Gugelmin
June 13, 1995


BOB ANDREW: Good afternoon to everyone. John Procida is at Mid-Ohio today and tomorrow at the IndyCar test session that's taking place. Anyone wanting information on that should call our office later this afternoon. I'd like to welcome Mauricio Gugelmin from PacWest Racing. He's with us today at his home. He is the driver of the Hollywood PacWest Reynard Ford and is coming off a rather disappointing weekend but has finished as high as second this year which came in Miami. He's currently 9th in PPG Cup points and has two other top five finishes. I would like to reiterate what Michele said about the mute button. We do have some radio folks with us, so if we could use the mute button to keep the background noise to a minimum everyone would be most appreciative. Let's get right to questions for Mauricio. Let's go ahead and open it up. Anyone just jump in, let's get started.

Q. Mauricio, I'd like you to talk a little bit about the race that's coming up next year in Brazil; your thoughts on that?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, that is a great opportunity not only for the Brazilian drivers but for IndyCar itself. I think it's a major breakthrough. And right now in Brazil IndyCar is making a lot of headlines mainly because it's such a competitive championship. We do have seven Brazilians in the series right now. The problem we had in Brazil, people didn't quite understand the oval racing which they do now. But having a race in Brazil in Rio, which is a very nice city, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I think we're going to suddenly have a huge number of fans that will just build up in IndyCars from after that race, and they will be able to understand what oval racing is all about. And also, they will create young talent and new opportunity for them to learn about oval racing because it's certainly something that we come over here and we have to learn with the American drivers on the hard way.

Q. Mauricio, as a follow-up to that, can you tell us a little bit about the Nelson Piquet International Raceway Circuit and what we might expect from a standpoint of covering that event?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, they're going to modify a little bit the (Nelson Piquet International Raceway) circuit which is Nelson Piquet has been renamed. I can't remember which time it was renamed under his name. And they're going to make that oval at the part of that circuit. And I understand it's a two kilometer oval which is 1.3 miles. And they're working right now. So I know IndyCar is really involved into the finishing that circuit with the high standards of quality that we have in this country, and I don't really know a lot more right now. But I know everything is on schedule. They're working hard. And as a quality race, it's going to be one of the greatest, for sure.

Q. Mauricio, in hearing you talk about it it sounds as though Brazilian fans have really taken to oval track racing. What is it that they like so much?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: I guess it's everybody do. I mean, you never know who is going to win, and there is some spectacular racing, there is a lot of changing positions in an oval race. And that's not only on oval racing, but IndyCar is a known championship to be like this, very competitive. And you never know until the last lap who's going to win. And it's just something new for the Brazilians. We weren't used to oval racing and once you learn that technique and learn to appreciate and how it is a unique way of racing and how competitive everything can be in the oval track and also how difficult it is to have a car working those places, you just appreciate a lot more. And IndyCar is just growing in Brazil like you guys wouldn't believe.

Q. Mauricio, if you're friend Aryton Senna hadn't met his end, do you think he might looked at his IndyCar by now; the competition in IndyCar is much closer than Formula I?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, I have no doubt. Actually, before he past away, I spoke with him a couple of times because I was making my way into IndyCars seriously in 1994 when I was going to be a teammate of Michael. And Michael was a teammate of his in 1993. So when I was in Brazil on holiday I did ask him about Michael, how he was and just to find out what I was going to expect. And since we spoke a little bit he asked me what did I feel about the cars. And, of course, he did try the Penske car in the winter of '92, '93, and he loved the way the cars were. He felt at that time easy to drive, but he did mention to me that he was just concerned with the walls on oval racing. And one thing that he wasn't so sure if he could do was if he could control himself because he knew in oval racing you have to drive within your car limits. And in many occasions he felt that in Formula I he drove beyond that. So he had a concern and he always left open that one day he would come over and try one of our cars, but unfortunately that wasn't today.

Q. Mauricio, tell me about the switch in the teams this year, and you're now driving for a couple of real enthusiasts; Bruce and Tom have all the vintage cars and they still like to race; what is it like working for them?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: It was the biggest difference this year for me. Such a strong team and they're so motivated and you feel like from day one that you're part of a big family. And Bruce and Tom, they know what it takes to succeed and they do their steps very carefully and they study everything and get as much as information as they can. And this team is going to go a long way, I have no doubt. I think we already proved that to a certain extent this year. And it's such a young team. But everything that we need is in place. We just need a little bit more time to be able to mellow everything, to get everything together and then go from there.

Q. Is Portland a big race for your team because it's kind of a home race at least for the owners and you're back on a road course?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: It is definitely a big race. I mean, last year Portland was my first time, and I enjoy that part of the country. And it is a second home race for me. Miami was the first and next year I'm going to have three, I guess, because I'm going to be racing at Rio as well. But it will be very important to succeed over there because the team had some great showings. We did have a bad weekend last weekend at Detroit, but in racing this is something that happens. And we know where we have to improve and we are already on the case.

Q. Mauricio, how well did you know the other Brazilian IndyCar drivers before you got to the circuit? And also, how close are you to some of these guys off the track?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, I knew Emerson in '82, first time I met him. And Raul was a little bit before that because Raul was racing with me in go cart in Brazil in the late 70s -- middle 70s, I rather say. And we never been so close because we all make different routes to get into IndyCar, and some of been here longer and some are just a arriving this year. And we all are in different kind of generations. And they're doing their job and I'm doing mine. We don't have much time of getting together off the track. And I think I know is them as much as I do any of the other IndyCar drivers. When you're racing in such a competitive world, we don't have time to spend together off the track. And I guess that's the way it was in Formula I. It's a little bit better in IndyCars because we have more off-track events and you start to get to know each other more, but that's the way it is.

Q. It must be nicer to have other guys from your country that at least -- who have somewhat of a similar background. I mean, do you find that it's nice to have that sort of a group there?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: It's good because I think it's one of the reason probably we're going to have the race in Brazil next year. And it's also good that you get a lot more attention from the fans, from the media and that is good for everybody. As long as you can be competitive, that's the main key.

Q. Mauricio, with the relative success of the Brazilians in the series this year and a lot of the sponsor involvement we've seen with a few of the teams, would you suspect that now that we're going to be basically racing in Brazil, we'll see more involvement from a sponsorship level among corporations in Brazil? And the second part to that: Are there some other drivers that you might mention that you would see as being people who we're going to be hearing about in the next year or two coming into the series.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: I have no doubt. We already have some young drivers in Indy Lights and also in Atlantics. And I all the time get somebody asking me how small Formulas are over here and they want to make this route instead of go to Europe and end up in Formula I and then come over here which is a more painful and harder way to get into IndyCar. And plus the economy in Brazil has been pretty stable the last year. And I think it's a great opportunity for corporations that have business in both countries. So maybe only in Brazil to be part of IndyCar because I have no doubt that it's a great value for money for sponsorship, the exposure we can get and how competitive this championship. So it can only help. I think it's going to be better for American drivers and also for Brazilian drivers.

Q. Mauricio, talk a moment about the fan-following in Brazil. More or less, the nationalism as opposed to how you see American fans react to their drivers.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, it's a little bit different. The Brazilians have a lot of the Italian blood and they are crazy about cars. And there is two strong sports in Brazil; one of course is soccer because it's very easy to play and it's very easy to just go down the round and buy a soccer ball and go with your neighbor and play in the back of your garden. And racing cars is something that is a dream for the Brazilians, for the average Brazilians, and they just see that as a great sport. And I think some of that is Emerson's fault because he was the one that started being so successful in Formula I and then IndyCars and then we had Nelson Piquet, we had Aryton Senna, we had so many competitive drivers that the attention in the country goes a lot to the sport. And plus, over there we unfortunately don't have as many sports as you can have in America. I was amazed here the selection of sports that the American people can follow and have. And so you have a more concentrated fans. Like in IndyCar, the American fans are different, they just love -- they can love IndyCars and they can hate NASCAR or whatever. And in Brazil they just love racing cars, it doesn't matter what they are, they just follow more IndyCars and Formula I because they are the fastest and they look good and it is a better show.

BOB ANDREW: Do we have questions?

Q. Mauricio, if I might follow-up on Ron's question, do you think the loss of Aryton Senna has in any way changed the way the Brazilian fans view Formula I for the moment? And could that have an influence as to why they might be looking at some alternatives from the standpoint of a passion for the sport of motor racing?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: I have no doubt that that's affected a little bit. Nobody thought in Brazil or maybe they forgot in Brazil until last year that people could die from a racing accident. And what happened with Aryton, which was very unfortunate, just -- and the way that it happened that nobody tried to do something like this, but it was just a mechanical failure that unfortunately took his life away, made a very bad taste in the Brazilians fans that they lost such a hero. And I think because there is nobody really competitive in Formula I this year, they are following more IndyCar because they want Brazilians to win. And I think we are having a better chance to do this in this part of the Atlantic than on the other side. And I feel that IndyCars, despite the speeds that we run in some of those ovals that much we go, is a very -- has a very safe record; and that helps too. And I think the value for money for sponsorship and everything is a little better over here, so that's why slowly we see more and more people trying to come this way.

Q. Mauricio, have you thought at all about the idea of possibly trying NASCAR somewhere down the road?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: That's first time somebody ask me this question. And I never in my life drove a racing car -- a closed racing car like the Winston Cup. I don't know how they say closed car is, but it would probably be very difficult for me to adapt for something like this because I'm used to the breeze on my face all the time and with open wheels and that has been like that since go cart. I don't discount that as a possibility, but not in the next ten, 15 years, perhaps.

BOB ANDREW: Any other questions for Mauricio? Okay. We'll call it a day then. Mauricio, we thank you very much for joining us.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: All right. You're welcome.

BOB ANDREW: Good-bye to everyone. IndyCar has the weekend off, but coming up on the 25th of June will be the Budweiser G.I. Joe 200 presented by Texaco Havoline at Portland. That race will be shown on ESPN television at 4 o'clock eastern. If anyone has questions regarding Mauricio or his background, would need photos or, et cetera, they can contact Scott Tingwald. Scott, are you still with us?

SCOTT TINGWALD: I'm here.

BOB ANDREW: Read off your phone number.

SCOTT TINGWALD: 219-264-4995.

BOB ANDREW: And anyone that needs information from the IndyCar office of course can call here at 810-362-8800. Again, thanks everyone for joining us. Next week we have Derrick Walker confirmed and we're also about 95 percent sure that Robby Gordon will also be joining us. So two weeks from today we plan to have Jacques Villeneuve. So next week Derrick Walker, Robby Gordon and then the week following is Jacques Villeneuve. Thanks again everyone.



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