CART Media Conference
May 6, 1997
T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everybody, from Rio de Janiero. We're sorry for the delay, while we worked out a couple of phone problems. We're glad you all could join us. Welcome to the CART media telephone conference. We want to extend a special greeting to our guest this afternoon, driver Paul Boesel, of the Brahma Sports Team. Sunday's Hollywood Rio 400 is a special event for Raul, a native of Curitiba, Brazil as it is for 6 of his Brazilian compatriots in the PPG Cart World Series. Raul earned his finish of the 1996 season at last year's inaugural Rio 400 when he piloted the Brahma Reynard Ford to a strong 7th place. With three consecutive points paying finishes building considerable momentum toward an even better finish in this year's Hollywood Rio 400. Welcome, Raul.
RAUL BOESEL: Thank you, welcome everybody.
T.E. McHALE: Raul has led portions of each of the last two races, the April 13th, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and the April 27th Boesch Sparkplug Grand Prix presented by Toyota in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It's the first time since 1993 at Indianapolis and Milwaukee that he has led laps in back-to-back PPG CART World Series events. He finished 7th in Australia, 8th in Long Beach and 8th in Nazareth, and he stands 11th in the PPG cups point race with 16 points. With that we will open it up for questions, beginning with Paul Dana of Auto Week.
Q. Raul, I just wanted you to talk, if you could, for a minute about what life is like in general at the Patrick organization, and how your working relationship with your engineers are going, as far as setting up the car, what you want in a car, what they want in a car, just being in a new environment with a new team this year. How it's been going so far through the first races of the season?
RAUL BOESEL: I think it's going better than expected. I have no complaints. You know well that it will take a little bit of time to gel. And last year I had a difficult task and a difficult year, and even had some people that blamed that I wasn't communicating with my engineer and so on, and that is completely opposite this year. We really start to understand each other and start to understand about the car, and a good example of that was that we didn't arrive in Nazareth with a really good setup, and we keep fighting and improving all the time, but it wasn't as good as I'd like to before qualifying. We decide to make a change, which was a good one, I think, was the biggest I ever made in my racing career, before I qualify on the oval, that you know is really dedicated to change it quite a lot the car before qualifying, almost go with what we have and hope for the best, compared with the morning practice. But both of us have confidence that we changed the car and make better, and qualify well and run well for the race, so that's the kind of things that I think going to keep happening and get better and better. My relationship with all the mechanics, because everybody on the Brahma Sports Team is, on my car, is new, like with Scott it was a continuation from Patrick, and all the guys that work with him was there for three or four years, so they put together a new team for myself, and is really going well. That's why we run a good time during the last two races. And I'm very confident to do well, and we're really building up momentum. And I'm very happy and a lot less pressure, and last year, you know, a lot less frustrations. Of course I'm still looking for my first win and lead the lap, the right one, the left one.
Q. Raul, this time of the season you're on oval tracks, you have four in a row, here, is there anything you guys do differently to prepare for racing at Nazareth, Rio, Gateway and then Milwaukee?
RAUL BOESEL: Every track is different, you cannot relate Nazareth with Milwaukee and so on, Rio is quite different, temperature is higher, even though it's not as hot as last year, 80's, and it's quite nice today actually. I think the track, they resurfaced turn 1 and 4, but it is an oval with some road course that you need to change gears and brake very hard, which makes for good racing, because it's a good time to overtake. It's different than any other race track you run, but it's enjoyable to do. We had a good test at Milwaukee before Nazareth and we did well in Nazareth, and I think this will carry on for Rio and when you go back to Milwaukee, we already have a good setup to start. So we have the setup that we test there. So I really expect good things for us in the next few races. We run well, as well, on the road course, but we want a result now. And I really have confidence that we'll be run up front next Sunday.
Q. I guess your countrymen are more familiar well the road course style of Formula 1. How are they responding to the oval track in Rio?
RAUL BOESEL: They are starting to understand better now. When I first started racing Indy cars, every time I come back home they ask, you're not dizzy on those kind of tracks? That the rules wasn't fair because people that run up front, the yellow flag, an advantage disappear. I think now it's completely different, because now they start to become educated about oval racing, and because more Brazilians, I think the championship is very, very competitive. So now when I come back here, they start to even give you opinions why I stop on that yellow, why I didn't change my strategy, they like the yellow flags; when the race is not very exciting, suddenly you have another restart. So you never know who going to finish until the end and who going to win until the end. And that's very exciting. I think it will build up from now on and already start from last year, because they can see life the oval racing, and actually the race was fantastic last year, because of the layout of the track was one of the best races of the year, in terms of overtaking and competitiveness, because the race track has allowed you to do that. And it's great, the follow-up is incredible. All the newspapers give full page about racing. And as you know, the Brazilian people they love soccer in motor racing. I'm very fortunate. And we as people that cover motor racing and love motor cars, we're very fortunate in my way to have this follow-up. We don't have as many sports like the United States, basketball, which is very popular, and baseball, and American football. So that's why motor racing is very big.
Q. Good morning, Raul. I live here in the city of Memphis and each year during the month of May they salute another country, and it just so happens that this year it's Brazil. And the last couple of days I've been able to meet a number of your country people who are in our city, and one of the things that I have learned not only from them, but also from you and your fellow drivers is the fact that Brazil is more than just a place that you live. Is having the race down in Brazil a way for you and yours to show off your country to America?
RAUL BOESEL: Yes, definitely. I think with the popularity that motor racing is and especially Indy cars, is two reasons to increase this time of the year, Rio de Janiero is one of the nicest place, and very famous to be one of the wonders of the world. And so this is a way to show that wonder. And yes, for me especially it's good, because I have my show -- I race here in Brazil and have family and friends who don't have the opportunity to go to America and to see the races, but I think the most important is by TV, people around the world have a chance to know what Brazil is about. And see if you have any interest to come here and visit and so on. And I hope they will come on the time of the race. But Rio and Brazil is a special country, is a different country in a way. The people is very friendly, very happy. Of course we have our own problems, economic and political, but inflation is down, and almost none, and people start to understand more how the way things done in America and so on. So I think Brazil is in a way up, is an improvement. And we just need to improve a little bit more in terms of big cities, in terms of safety and so on. But everybody that comes here loves it, because people is friendly. We have a carnival and so on. So I hope if any of you guys have a chance to come down, feel free to do.
Q. When you look back at the race last year, the first time that the series came to Brazil, was there some apprehension on your part, it's almost like having a party and hoping everything goes well?
RAUL BOESEL: Yes, definitely was. And for me it was even a bigger task because Brahma became the sponsor and they very big here, and they have a lot of expectations, as I did with going with Barry Green, and certainly start to go south. And I knew I have a difficult time with the car and the engine and so on, having problems. Fortunately this year Ford make a big improvement in terms of reliability and power, and that's what give me the confidence to do well. And I'm more relaxed this year than last year. So, yes, was about -- but still a lot of pressure, because I want to do well here, and I have another five, six Brazilians that want to do the same, so competition is tough.
Q. The Rio course has been described sometimes as a modified oval, or almost a road course oval. Can you tell us how you're going to be driving it, whether you'll drive it as a road course or an oval track?
RAUL BOESEL: Well -- last year people set up the car as a road course, and as you say, some people set up the car as oval. Last year my approach was, and we didn't know the track at the time, we set up the car as a oval and was running quite well during the race. We're going to start the same. And I think that's the way to do it, still like a road course but you only have left turns. And I think you need to make a little bit of mixture, not be a hundred percent oval, but going that direction.
Q. Last year the crowd was less than full at the track. Have you noticed an increase in promotion this year before the race?
RAUL BOESEL: Yes, I did. And even like Brahma, they didn't make any promotions last year. And now I start today at 6 o'clock in the morning. And I have all day long things to do. So I think this is going to help promote the race, and it's not only Brahma, but other sponsors like Hollywood and other Brazilian drivers all around the city and TV and around the states, other parts of Brazil; so I think there will be an increase in the public, plus I think the time of year is much better, is not the rainy season and the temperature is much better, a little cooler. So I think it will be much better. It will be the second race of the Indy cars here in Brazil, that will be a plus, too.
Q. And finally, do you feel any increase in comfort level by being in Brazil and hearing a lot of Portuguese spoken?
RAUL BOESEL: Yes, in a way. The other way is like people, all my friends suddenly show up. And it's tough to get -- and everybody think I have sweet tickets and public passes, so in this way it's a little tougher, because I don't want to turn down people, and at the same time, I'm there working and I need to have the best result I can get. So that's sometimes why I have Kevin. So I say Kevin, that's your job. But he's here laughing, beside me. But, yes, in a way you have the sentimental difference and for me, especially, winning this race would be a very, very special thing, because as you know how long I pursuing this winning situation that I have in my career in Indy cars, that is almost, almost, I want to put that behind. And I hope it will be this Sunday.
Q. At the last three races it looks like you've been running relatively consistently as far as your placing in the race, but what are you going to have to do to dial it up a notch, you've been 7th and 8th lately, how can you take that to the next level? Is it the car, is it you, what is it?
RAUL BOESEL: I think -- of course I need to set up the car properly for the track. I, myself, need to be a hundred percent on top of it. But we've been doing, I think, really what we need to do is make our strategy work and that's why we stay behind a little bit the last two races. We run in the front with the competitive times. We did like -- I think the third fastest time in Nazareth during the race with the fastest Firestone Tire. I did, I think, the third or fastest lap in Long Beach, and run away when I was up front. So that proved that the combination was there. We just need to make a good strategy, good pit stops, and improve a bit here, a bit there. I think that's what we need, we're close.
Q. Tell me a little bit -- I've got two questions for you, Raul, first of all your relationship with Pat Patrick, it's been a few months now, but how are you two getting along?
RAUL BOESEL: I think very well, definitely. We've been discussing a lot. I feel very welcome to the team. Of course, when things start to go well and the momentum start to pick it up, everything is nice. And I hope we can stay that way and just consolidate this relationship. I think Patrick, he has his own ways, but he's kind of a very kind person and very honest. He's not easy to deal with him. But when you have a deal, it's done. I think a handshake is enough. I think when you just need a piece of paper, it's because almost a tradition you need to have a piece of paper. But it's been very well, it's been great with the whole team, Jim McGee, Steve Newey, my engineer, John Ward, everything is running smooth. And they looking forward to getting my first win, and Patrick, historically has given a lot of drivers their first win, and I hope they keep his tradition.
Q. And for 79 years the month of May with Indy cars did mean Indianapolis, you guys aren't there this year, you have a very busy month this month, do you miss it?
RAUL BOESEL: Yeah, definitely I do. And I think if any driver says they don't is not a hundred percent true. It is challenging Indianapolis, unfortunately things is out of control, especially the drivers, so I just hope one day it is a possibility that we -- the CART championship can be back there.
T.E. McHALE: As you heard Raul, he started at 6th morning, and he's got a full schedule today. So right now we're going to open it up for general questions. We'll probably only be able to take a couple. If you wish to ask a question, you need to signal the operator by hitting Star 1 on your telephone key pad and we'll just take a couple before we let Raul go. Any last questions for Raul? Very good. I guess we can let Raul go. We thank him for being with us. We thank Kevin Diamond for helping put that together for us. And just a reminder that the Hollywood Rio 400 comes up this weekend. We wish Raul best of luck in the upcoming race.
RAUL BOESEL: Thank you very much. And I hope I can keep the Cup here.
T.E. McHALE: Thanks again, Raul, have a good race.
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