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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Mauricio Gugelmin
May 10, 1997


RON RICHARDS: Hello, everybody this is Ron Richards with CART down here in Rio de Janeiro. We have finished qualifying for today and perhaps some of you have seen through our internet site, or other means, but Mauricio Gugelmin is on the pole. He set a record here today running 171.912 miles per hour breaking Alex Zanardi's record from a year ago 167.084. This is the first pole for Mauricio as well as first pole for his team, the PacWest Team. Also it is of interest, obviously, Mauricio is from Brazil and being here in Brazil, I think, everybody would be very interested to know that the enthusiasm, as you can well imagine, was running very high from Mauricio and what he accomplished to. So if we could, why don't we move along. I can go through the grid a little bit more if you'd like in a few minutes. Why don't we go ahead with questions that you may have for Mauricio.

Q. I am looking through the live timing report off of CART's web site and like the competition is unbelievable. What is that going to be like tomorrow?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, pretty tough. We -- every year it just gets worse. CART competition is just getting really tough for the drivers. And, here, in Rio, it is a unique circuit because we have two tight corners, Turn 1 and Turn 4, and then two long straights. So basically, it is not very difficult to get the car balanced. As you can see our grid is very, very close. And I am sure tomorrow we are going to produce a great show because it is going to be a lot of passing, a lot of drafting (sic) to pass people, but it just feels great to be in my home country anyway.

Q. Can you tell me quickly what speed do you get up to on the straights and what is the difference in speed in the turns from the straights?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: At this point I got up to 211 miles an hour on the straight, but that was a little bit of a-- realistically, it is just under 210. But through the corners, it is just below 120 on Turn 1 and it is a little bit slower, about 115 on Turn 4 - minimum speed. There is a big variation and we come, 6th gear you break very hard and you go down to 3rd for both corners, Turn 1 and Turn 4.

RON RICHARDS: As you mentioned, the grid is very close and in fact, as I sit here and look at it, the first 17 cars are separated by 9/10 of a second. Mauricio's time being 39.034 and we go down Adrian Fernandez at 39.941 in 17th position. Just so you know, Roberto Moreno (ph), another Brazilian, was second quick in the Newman/Haas car that he is filling in for Christian Fittipaldi. Bobby Rahal was third quick and his best qualifying effort of the season. Bryan Herta, his teammate, was fourth quick. They both had identical fast laps but, Rahal had his second lap being quicker than Herta's put him third on the grid and Paul Tracy is fifth quick on the grid. So, we have a Mercedes, three Fords and then another Mercedes on the grid.

Q. Mauricio, congratulations on your first pole.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Thank you, really appreciate that.

Q. We were hoping maybe you would have done that first pole in St. Louis at the new Gateway, but that is okay.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: The timing was better here, but St. Louis I would certainly be trying to. It is the Motorola 300, is one of our other sponsors of the team, and hopefully Mark Glendale can get one there. That would be great for the team.

Q. How fast are you going on the straightaways down at Rio?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: 210. Occasionally a little bit higher than that; occasionally a little bit slower; depends how the wind is and if you are getting a draft or not. But, that is the top speed we are get here.

Q. Must be exciting for you to have two Brazilians on the front row?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, it is. I mean, the Brazilians, even with no excitement like this, they are all crazy, so you could imagine how it is going to be tomorrow. It is just great for the country and we feel proud because you know, Brazil is well represented with CART, with so many different drivers in different teams. This race is very important for our championship too. So I just feel good that it happens to be the Hollywood 400 too which is my main sponsor, so the timing was just perfect.

Q. Well, it is not only your first pole, but PacWest's first pole as well. How has the team reacted to that?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: They deserve all the compliments because I tell you, this team, we worked together for a few years now and it is just one of those marriages that just working really well and we just get better by the day. And, I keep telling my guys that they really did the job, you know, I was just the lucky one that got the car to drive and to perform. But, they gave me a car that was well balanced and I did too two good laps with it and tomorrow, I am sure, we are going to be hunting for our first win.

Q. Tell us how your season has gone so far and kind of your aspirations for the rest of the season?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, we start the season pretty strong at Homestead qualifying second and finished 6th in that race. And, since winter testing, spring training, especially, I felt that this year we can really fight for the championship and that is what we are aiming for. Everyday we go out to try to be the fastest and try to win races. Of course, in CART racing the competition is so tough this year, which makes life very hard. We have got four races and four different winners. Hopefully, tomorrow, I will be the fifth one and just keep working as hard as I can and see where we get towards the end of the season. But, my inspiration is to do the best I can for my team and I think hopefully that will be good enough to fight for the championship.

Q. Congratulations on your pole today.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Thank you.

Q. In other sports, other than CART racing, where you are running on your feet or on skates or something like that, home advantage or being at home seems to work. What about in a car race when the automobile is -- really, you are confined to the automobile, do you still get up when you are performing in front of your home crowd and can that step up your performance?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, I feel that, of course, in our sport you depend a lot more on different things, how the mechanics did their job -- I do believe that the best way of getting the best performance out of a Brazilian driver is in Brazil. I have no doubt about that. That does help you because the crowd is behind you and you want to show that you can drive on the limit every time you go out. What you have to be careful is to make sure you control that. But, we are all professional racing drivers. And, that is what we get paid to do. And, I feel pretty good about it. And, today has been a great day.

Q. Mauricio, from what I saw, can you tell me what changed between yesterday and your winning the pole today because from what I saw, Michael Andretti was fastest on Saturday. I could be wrong there, but that is what I had thought.

RON RICHARDS: Michael was quickest yesterday, that is correct.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Yeah, he was quickest on Friday, actually. This morning he was a little bit down. And, I think they just unload their cars a little bit better set up than we were. And, we managed to catch up during the day. Roberto Moreno which is a stand by for Fittipaldi, he is second place and which he driver the same car as Michael, they are running pretty strong. It is just that I feel maybe we got the best out of our car in qualifying and that is what put us there.

Q. Can you tell me anything about what you changed or when you made the changes?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, it is a combinations of the small changes. There wasn't anything majorly wrong with my car. But, basically I had some push coming out of Turn 4. And, I had a looseness coming out of 1 this morning, and I got that fixed. So, right now, I have a perfect balanced car with a good Mercedes engine and Firestone tires holding me around there. So, that is the package that made me get results with this.

Q. Is there other ovals where the speed changes are that great, where you downshift that far and break that far in the turns?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: No, it is really unique for this. And, I am sure it is going to produce a great race. And, it is kind of nice because it is something different. You feel like -- we call it like a Roval, a mix of road course and oval.

Q. A Roval?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Yes.

Q. For a long time Formula I was pretty much the religion there in Brazil, but it has been a long time since a Brazilian driver has done very well much less won a championship. Certainly the CART organization has done a great job in promoting themselves down there and here you are on the pole as a Brazilian driver. Do you think finally that Formula I has been displaced an the religion down there?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: I think to be fair, in Brazil, still there is space for both, Formula I and CART racing, but the fact is that we are getting more and more popular with CART and that there is more Brazilian drivers doing better at CART than they are doing at Formula I; not because they are better quality drivers. They just happen to be more competitive teams than the ones that are driving Formula I. It is great for the sport. It is great for us. And, I have been a Formula I driver and I must tell you that I enjoy my life a lot more than in the past.

Q. Mauricio, congratulations, first of all. Can you tell us what the differences are that brought you to the pole and put your teammate back in row 10?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Well, I didn't have a chance to talk with Mark. For sure he had an unbalanced car or some kind of a problem because we basically run the same equipment. And, of course, he didn't have such a good start last year around here. And, straight-a-way, my car seemed to be working better than his. So, straight after the pole, I have been busy talking with a lot of people and I haven't found out if he had any kind of problems which I suspect he has because he is a lot better driver than that to have that difference between myself and him.

Q. I notice that the first nine rows of cars are within the same second as far as qualifying. Did you have anything that felt like a perfect lap that got you to the pole?

MAURICIO GUGELMIN: Yeah, my second lap was just perfect as it was going to get. That is what it did. And, actually, if you go through the times, I have a little bit of a gap, I have 2/10 to Roberto and then after that it is just nose to tail.

RON RICHARDS: That is the biggest gap, as I look down this grid, that is the biggest gap between any cars through the first 9 rows, like you said, Mauricio, near perfect, if not perfect lap there. Anyway, unless we have somebody else that has come on, that wraps us up here. And, we will have another opportunity to speak with our race winner. I am sure Mauricio would like to be back here tomorrow putting up with the helicopter noise and everything else talking to all of you then. So thanks for joining us. It is at 4:30 eastern time. I am certain you have got the information. Please come back and join us after our race tomorrow. From Rio, we will sign off. Thank you.



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