Miller Lite Racing Team Media Conference
Topics: Team Rahal
TOM BLATTLER: Thanks. I'd like to welcome everybody to our Miller Light racing teleconference today with our featured guests Bobby Rahal and his partner David Letterman. At the moment we have Mr. Rahal on line, and we're expecting Mr. Letterman in a couple of minutes. He's off doing a couple of off-site shoots for his show. At this point, though, I'd like to welcome everybody, run through Bobby's brief history here, then we'll get into our questioning and answering. Many of you know, this is the final year for Bobby Rahal as a driver, with Rahal's Last Ride Tour. Bobby's history is very well documented. The only three-time active PPG World Series champion, two-time Driver of the Year, only owner/driver on the CART circuit, most experienced CART driver, 247 starts to date, that is seventh on the all-time list. He's second in all-time earnings at just under $16 million, '86 Indy 500 winner, '82 CART Rookie-of-the-Year. If that's not enough, he was the first driver to win a million dollars in a single season, '86; first driver to win a million dollars in the post-season, '92; and the first driver to surpass $12 million in career earnings. In addition to Bobby's celebration of his final season as a driver for Team Rahal, Bobby has also started the Bobby Rahal Foundation, which will be giving back something to the racing community. The foundation is a not-for-profit endowment that will generate charitable funds raised on the CART FedEx trail. The foundation identifies worthwhile organizations within the race market. So Bobby will be giving money from the foundation to each of the 19 race markets at the conclusion of the '98 season. Be checking with the foundations that he's involved in, also with the local communities that the promoters are interested in helping. At this point, I'd like to open it up and first welcome, Bobby. Bobby, how you doing?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well. How are you?
TOM BLATTLER: I know last weekend at Miami wasn't the way you wanted it, but how do you feel going in as your final season?
BOBBY RAHAL: Naturally, we were very disappointed with last weekend's performance. I have used it to, I think, be very clear about our motivation for the remainder of the year. So we're very much looking forward to Japan. Just ready to go. I mean, aside from certain aspects, the weekend were relatively successful. Obviously, more obvious aspects weren't. But we are -- we have used the disappointment as I guess maybe the equivalent of a cold shower or a wake-up call, and we are confident about the rest of the year.
TOM BLATTLER: Just a few added notes on Bobby. As you well know, he owns the Team Rahal operation, which has the Miller Lite Ford Reynard for himself, as well as the Shell Oil Ford Reynard for his teammate Bryan Herta. Bobby also owns the Team Rahal Indy Lights, Textron Automotive car with Mike Borkowski, and also a part owner with Tom Gloy, the former sports car champion, in the Icehouse Truck, NASCAR Truck, with Dave Rezendes. Needless to say, Bobby has a full plate. As we mentioned, we're still waiting for David to come on.
DAVID LETTERMAN: I'm right here.
TOM BLATTLER: How are you?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Very good.
TOM BLATTLER: We want to welcome you. Just gave a rundown on Bobby's lengthy career, which I'm sure you already know. Welcome our second guest David Letterman, partnered with Bobby Rahal and Team Rahal. David an avid race fan growing up in Indianapolis, joined Team Rahal at the beginning of the 1996 season as partner with Bobby. We have a large contingent of motor sports press. Thought it might be good for you to explain how you're feeling going into the '98 year, this being Bobby's last season as a driver.
DAVID LETTERMAN: The last time I did one of these, I was in San Francisco. I don't think Bobby was on the line, it was me and Paul Newman. Paul, they kept asking him questions. As he would respond, he would also doze off. It was very embarrassing for everyone. Nobody had any questions for me, so it couldn't have been more of a dull event. I hope today, and believe me I'll do my part, I hope we can pick this up a little bit. Do you remember that, Bobby?
BOBBY RAHAL: I do.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Very embarrassing. Paul would get halfway through something, forget what he was talking about (snoring noise), 90 minutes, it was terrible.
TOM BLATTLER: I think that was before the U.S. 500.
DAVID LETTERMAN: It was. Anyway, regarding Bobby's final season, you know, what can you say? It's great for Bobby. It's great when you see somebody do something exactly right. It's great when you see somebody do it with grace, the kind of thing that is just the perfect compliment to a lovely career. Not everybody is lucky enough to call their own shots, not everybody is lucky or smart enough to form and shape their own destiny. I think this -- when you look around show business, nobody is really smart enough to handle it this way. I couldn't be happier for him. When he came up to the office to mention it, I had a feeling that this might be what the meeting was about. When he mentioned it to me, I was elated. It's a lovely, lovely thing. It would be great to see him continue to drive forever, but why? What's the point? He's done everything. He's succeeded and succeeded and succeeded. I think his retirement is also a huge success. I'm just tickled pink by it. I couldn't be more happy for Bobby.
TOM BLATTLER: At this point, I think we'll open it up to questions.
Q. Dave, I was just wondering, will Bobby's retirement affect your involvement in the team?
DAVID LETTERMAN: You know, I think when Bobby told me that he was retiring, I was thinking to myself, when do I get to retire? That was the big question for me. Because when I get to retire, then I'll actually have a life, I'll be able to participate. Not that the team wants me to participate, not that they need me, but at least I'll be able to be more like a human, go to actual racing events, enjoy myself. The fact that I still have this job is the single biggest detriment to kind of enjoying my relationship with the team. I'm looking forward to my own retirement in that sense.
Q. But will Bobby's retirement affect your involvement in this team, the partnership?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Well, if it does, we're all in a lot of trouble. If I have to start doing something now because Bobby's retired, we're screwed (laughter). Do you want to try it again? This is the problem we had with Paul last time. It was about this point when Paul started dozing off.
Q. Are you dozing?
DAVID LETTERMAN: No, no.
Q. Are you going to be involved in CART racing next year, the year after?
DAVID LETTERMAN: I'm in it till they throw me out or until I drop dead in the pits. What I had envisioned for myself was a lovely way to spend spring and summer, but unfortunately because I'm working, you know, like 48 weeks out of the year, I can only come to a few events. My hope is eventually when the schedule changes that I can actually show up at more of these. As far as participating in it, they don't need anything from me. I'm in it to stay certainly.
BOBBY RAHAL: If I can add two cents. I see that my retirement really doesn't have anything to do with the relationship, per se. I think she hung up.
Q. I'm still here.
DAVID LETTERMAN: That was me hanging up, Bobby (laughter).
BOBBY RAHAL: I can hear Tim May, I know he's on line. In any event, David and I have a partnership. That's a partnership as friends and as compatriots in this thing. That's irrespective of my being a driver. In fact, if anything, it's going to give me more time to make sure to help Dave get to more of the races because I know that's been disappointing to him. It's understandable to us because he's working all the time. But we look forward to the day when he's able to spend more time with us.
DAVID LETTERMAN: That's what I was trying to say.
Q. Thanks, Bobby. Thanks, Dave.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Thank you, very much.
Q. Last time I saw Bobby, he had that look without glasses. I just thought he must have gotten contacts. I hadn't realized he had undergone some radical surgery, as Bryan has as well. Do you want to talk about that a little more?
BOBBY RAHAL: Just that it's nice not having to deal with four eyes, you know. Like regular people, I can deal with two of them. It's been great.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Did Bryan get it done also?
BOBBY RAHAL: Bryan got it done as well.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Did you get a deal or something?
BOBBY RAHAL: A two-fer, four-fer actually.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Why wasn't I involved in this? I've worn glasses since I was 16. Nobody called me.
BOBBY RAHAL: We can get you a deal.
DAVID LETTERMAN: What does this do to the Lens Crafters deal?
BOBBY RAHAL: It was dead anyway (laughter). Actually, I hadn't gotten around to telling them yet.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Does the thing work, Bobby? Are you pleased with it?
BOBBY RAHAL: So far, very pleased. I'm pretty confident that last weekend's performance had nothing to do with it.
Q. Bobby, this past weekend, was there a different feeling as you climbed into the car, as the car sat on the starting grid?
BOBBY RAHAL: You know, so far, I have not -- I think those feelings really come sort of after the fact, after the race, because really the whole weekend, I was just focused on trying to win the race, do very well in the race. Obviously, we didn't do very well. But really, I haven't thought -- prior to a race, I haven't dwelled much upon the fact that it is the last time. Certainly when I left the racetrack and I was given a nice rocking chair down there for my future use, I guess, but when I left the track, you know, you just you walk out of the place, you realize you'll never sort of go out of it that way again. If there's any nostalgia, that's when it happens. But during the weekend, I've really made a commitment to try to sort of deal with the issues at hand, which is the actual race.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Bobby, when did you actually make the decision? Was there one time or was it a kind of gradual feeling?
BOBBY RAHAL: I think it was gradual, Dave. It was over a period, like over a year or so. You know, I think any athlete knows when it's time and when it isn't. Any true athlete. I think we all tend to try to deceive ourselves that we can go on forever, but the reality is you can't.
DAVID LETTERMAN: I hit that point about five years ago (laughter). I'm pretty much still doing it.
Q. Dave, Bobby is going to get a lot of these rocking chairs over the season, do you get a cut on that?
DAVID LETTERMAN: I would like a rocking chair. The truth of it is I'm the one that should be retiring. When Bobby mentioned that, I got very envious. When you get all you need, I'll take the rest of them.
BOBBY RAHAL: There'll be one on its way from Japan.
Q. You and Bobby have known each other for a long time. Over the length of your relationship, what has most impressed you about him?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Well, I think racing and the world of professional athletes and professional sports notwithstanding, he's impressed me as just a quality fellow, a gentleman, a nice, decent, smart individual, with whom you kind of enjoy passing time. So to me, you know, the racing, which is of course what attracted me to Bobby and the organization in the first place, that's all great and that's all fun, but it wouldn't mean anything to me if it weren't for the fact that at the core of all of this is a real guuy. I just responded to that. He's a terrific man, you know. I'm lucky to know him. Even if I was his paperboy, there was a time when I was (laughter), I'd be proud of that relationship. So to me the racing and everything on top of the friendship and knowing this guy, including him as a friend and a peer, you know, that's the real fun of it.
Q. So if Bobby wins the FedEx Cup this year, do you have something special planned for him?
DAVID LETTERMAN: A big wet kiss like every year.
BOBBY RAHAL: I can't wait (laughter).
Q. David, I'm afraid you're three months late on your 600 word inside line column. We decided to give you another day on your deadline.
DAVID LETTERMAN: All right.
Q. You have a 12,000 word special section to write now.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Okay.
Q. By the close of business tomorrow. Unfortunately, if you can't make the deadline, David, your career as a racing writer is over.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Hang on one second. (Speaking to his office staff) Get me an intern (laughter).
Q. About six things I could have said there, but I held my breath. Bobby, now that CART has done this IPO, it went pretty well, completed the deal, Andrew Craig last weekend sort of stated his intention to buy other series as part of the proceeds of this IPO. I wonder if you could talk a little about the IPO, what you think it has done and will do for CART and what it does for the owners specifically as well?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, for the owners, first off, I think it gives, particularly those whose livelihoods are absolutely dependent upon CART and racing in general, it gives those owners group equity in something that has an opportunity to grow. Usually in racing, you put in all these years of efforts, and really in the end generally don't have a whole lot to show for it. I think -- I don't know if anybody really ever thought that racing should provide anything else but what it has. But now, you know, guys like Derrick Walker and Barry Green and myself, Steve Horne, all these guys who have really spent their entire lives in it, now we have an opportunity to take advantage of those efforts, and in the meantime grow the series and benefit from it beyond just what -- beyond the usual benefits that have always been accorded to you as a team owner, which means the ability to spend a lot of money and not have a lot in return. So I think it's been very good. I think it will give us an opportunity to do more fundamental things to grow, not just CART, but motor racing in general. I mean, I saw an article today about Darrel Waltrip, about all the years he had spent in the sport, now he's having to sell his team. There's really not a whole hell of a lot to show for it, for all the effort, particularly his team, all the effort he put forth towards that. You really want to try to get away from that. Certainly that's what baseball has done over the years, although they're not publicly owned. Obviously the value of the franchise has grown tremendously. I think it's a great return for all the efforts. I just feel that it will give us sort -- it's going to force us really to have a different approach as to how we run the business, because now it's out in the open, now there's a lot of people that depend on our doing a good job with it. I think there's going to be a formality and what have you about it that's going to be to the benefit of CART. I believe things like Indy Lights, and there's going to be a lot of other things that I think over a period of time, maybe not necessarily specifically in the racing area, but involved with automobiles, will do nothing but help grow the sport as we know it. All in all, I think it's going to achieve -- going to have great returns for us on that.
Q. Dave, when you do get to a race, do you get to have fun? I only see you peeking out of a limo sort of thing.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Oh, please. The times that I go to the races, last year I was at Mid-Ohio, the year before I'm not sure exactly how many or where, but I always end up having a great time.
Q. Can you get around without people --
DAVID LETTERMAN: Yeah, yeah. The truth of it is, people just don't care that much about me (laughter). I'm speaking of the staff and the crew primarily. I can remember, I think the most funny had the previous season was going to Elkhart Lake. I'd never been there before. My God, that was very impressive. I loved every minute of that. You know, the countryside, the track, Bobby was third there.
BOBBY RAHAL: Right, right.
DAVID LETTERMAN: That was fun. It was just a real kick for me. Silly old Paul Newman took me for a ride around in one of the PPG cars. You know, the smell of bratwurst, you get off the plane at the airport and you can smell it (laughter).
Q. You like that?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Oh, man, it was great. To me, there is that feeling, when you get on the grounds of a racetrack, of course I'm preaching to the choir here, the hair on the back of your hands starts to stand up. It's just great. So the only difficulty I have sometimes is people wanting to come up and lick you (laughter). I don't need to leave the house for that. But it's always a thrill, to just stand next to one of these cars when they turn it over, you just -- you feel that rumble deep beneath the concrete. To me, that's what it's all about.
Q. One other question. I see that a company production owned by you is backing an Indy Lights driver. Can you talk a bit about that?
DAVID LETTERMAN: It's a funny thing. Everybody knows that in this country, I think, and the world over, but maybe more so in this country, it's tough for a kid who decides he wants to go and do professional motor sports. It's just tough. The odds, they're incalculable. Unfortunately, they go the wrong way. I met this guy, met a couple of guys out at Jim Hall's go-cart school four or five years ago. They're really nice kids. Like everybody else, they were looking to get a ride here, looking to get a ride there, just chasing it, just chasing it, never really having anything together, but really literally kind of chasing it. So just as a hoot, I said, "If you guys -- if there's anything I can do, let me know." Of course, if I'd realized what I could do was give them money, I would have kept my mouth shut. But that's what it is for racing. The guy I think in Indy Lights is Tim Mosier. Here is a guy, Bobby has met the kid, nice enough guy, and all he does is hustle, just hustle and hustle, he keeps hustling. He's looking for a ride, looking for parts, looking for paint, looking for everything. I can't imagine what that life must be where every day you wake up and you think, "Today I'm going to spend the entire day asking people for things." It's not going -- it's going to help him, you know, my contribution. It's more of just kind of emotional support than anything else. He was able to, like these guys do, slap something together. Somebody had a deal, somebody had a car, this and that. He wasn't down in Homestead. I think he's going to be in Long Beach. Would that be the first one he might be in?
BOBBY RAHAL: I think so.
Q. Do you have any idea how he came to be associated with the Canadian team, based in BC?
DAVID LETTERMAN: I just don't know. That subject can change week to week. It's one of those deals where the first two or three weeks it's a Canadian team, then it's going to be Germany, then Argentina. He's got a guy who has a shoelace deal. Just everything is like that.
Q. Bobby, I don't want to sound like Frank Sinatra, but do you have any regrets? Anything looking back at your career that you wish you had done or anything that you maybe wish you hadn't done?
BOBBY RAHAL: Really, yes and no. After I've done the things I've done, I never expected to do those in the first place. It's all been just a great dream come true for me. I mean, I wish that at the time I had pursued my Formula 1 aspirations a little more aggressively. It's easy to say in hindsight. At the time you thought you did. Looking back, you know, I wish I had some managing, per se, to help out in that, because I felt we could compete, and did compete. That had always been my initial dream. I mean, I'm a little disappointed overall that we never had been able to really fulfill my hopes there. But really that's about it. I would have loved to have won LeMans. Never had my opportunity there. We got close one here. Really, those would be it. The fact that, as I said, everything that I achieved really fulfilled dreams and things that were beyond dreams because, I just never expected to do any of this. So to say that you have regrets, somehow, I don't want to, I guess, cheapen or say that I don't feel that what I have done has been satisfactory, because it has. More than satisfactory. If you were going to say, do I wish I had done this a little bit better? It would probably be in those two areas.
Q. Surely you rue the day you met Dave, though?
BOBBY RAHAL: There are times -- no. It's been great. My only regret is that Dave's schedule is such that he can't get to more of the races. We really enjoy it when he's there. It's been a friendship that really started in 1986 and has come since then. It's one of those that I wish geographically we lived closer because I think we could spend more time together as it is. But all in all, it's been great. We're just pleased he's a part of us. As I said earlier, I look forward to the day when he doesn't have to work so hard and we can spend more time walking around the paddocks together.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Part of it, a lot of it is the schedule that keeps me from coming to the races. The other part, there's still a lot of bench warrants out there (laughter). You have to be very careful where you go and when you go there.
Q. The fact that Matsushita announced this will be his farewell tour, do you think it's going to take the spotlight off of you?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Charlie, come on. My God, Charlie, it's still light outside. Be nice, for heaven's sake.
Q. I think that says it all. Thanks a lot.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Charlie, Happy Hour, Roberts.
Q. Bobby, you've been through it once. This is your first race on your final tour. Did it go pretty much the way you expected, I mean with all the things surrounding it?
BOBBY RAHAL: The things surrounding it went great. The charitable activities. The only thing that didn't go well was the race, which unfortunately for me this year, as important as all the good-byes are and everything else, as I've said all along, I want to go out a winner. As I said, right after the race, I think to Tim May, irrespective of whether it was my last or first year, I wasn't happy. I think that is probably good because, you know, sure, I care about competing still. As I say, we're using this as our motivation to make sure it doesn't happen again. But as far as the rest of the weekend, as far as -- I thought the whole weekend, aside from just my own personal situation, I thought everything went very well for the first race. I look forward to Japan. I'm very excited about going there. As I say, the charity activities, all the PR stuff, you name it, we spent a lot of time trying to organize as best as possible. I thought it came off very well.
DAVID LETTERMAN: I was pretty impressed. I happened to pick up a copy of the Miami Herald, Friday edition, there is Bobby on the front page. Man, that's pretty good.
BOBBY RAHAL: I am important. I am somebody, aren't I?
Q. Bobby, I don't think you and Bryan have been to Japan yet, tested there.
BOBBY RAHAL: No.
Q. What kind of setup are you going to use? Do you feel the track will be something you're familiar with?
BOBBY RAHAL: Yeah. It's quite similar to St. Louis in terms of it being, you know, one end of it, sort of egg-shaped. One end the corner is fairly tight, relative to the other. I don't believe it has quite the banking in the tightened, tighter corner, that St. Louis does. In general, I think we're looking at that kind of a setup. Everybody who tested there came back just raving about the Firestones that have been developed for that track. The fact that everybody is coming back, new cars, new tires, new everything, I'm not sure last year really could give too much of an indication. We feel that we're going to have a pretty darn good setup, be in a position to compete.
Q. What kind of attendance are they looking for?
BOBBY RAHAL: I think it will be packed. Tom is probably more aware of it. I think it's going to be upwards of close to 100,000 people.
Q. I think they have seats for 60,000, then they have banking on the outside.
BOBBY RAHAL: Going to be a big event. They attracted almost 20,000 just for a practice day during the middle of the week. So we expect it's going to be pretty good.
Q. Dave, you've been sort of stalked by this guy with the Honda, driving it in from Montana. Are you going to talk to him, drive the car?
DAVID LETTERMAN: I was not even aware of that until yesterday. I know very little about it. It's a guy who is I guess driving around the city, like you say, came from Montana. You know, beyond that, I don't really know anything.
Q. You don't have any plans?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Have somebody run a make on this guy (laughter)? He wanted me to drive the car. Maybe I'll let him run me home one night.
Q. No plans yet to put him on the show?
DAVID LETTERMAN: No. Like most everything else in my life, I'm completely ignorant here (laughter).
Q. Bobby, I was in Vancouver yesterday. They unveiled a new Molson Indy track, quite different from last year. You actually hold a little bit of real estate up there on that track, having finished really well up there. Have you had a chance to look at the track?
BOBBY RAHAL: Just last year at the driver's meeting, they showed us the outline. I presume it's the same. I think it's going -- I mean, the old track was great when it was by yourself because it was so difficult to pass. But to go fast there, you really had to manhandle the car. It was fun to qualify. You could really do some pretty incredible things. It was so difficult to pass. You know, it took a mistake by somebody or something to get ahead of them. The new circuit, however, looks like there's a lot more areas for passing, just a better racetrack overall. I know we're all anxious to get up there and it's such a great event for us anyway. We look forward to the new circuit.
Q. Dave, when are you going to have Bob on your show to do his favorite cooking dish?
DAVID LETTERMAN: You're talking about Zanardi? I met him a couple times before. Seems like he's a cute kid. He's done a couple of things to us that kind of make my stomach knot. But he seems like a cute kid. Bobby I think is going to be on within six weeks or so. We have something.
BOBBY RAHAL: We're going to cook grilled cheeses.
DAVID LETTERMAN: He's coming on in April, and he better be good, for crying out loud.
Q. I guess a follow-up to that would be, Bobby, do you have a special recipe for grilled cheese?
BOBBY RAHAL: We're working on it right now. We're going to try cheese next time (laughter).
Q. Bobby, when you were here a couple weeks ago, from the start of the race, you were talking a little bit about how important it was for you to go out a winner. You mentioned it a little earlier in the press conference. Just talk a little about that. Does the streak of races, does that bother you? Do you go out and just forget about it when you go out and race? How important is that to you to kind of get that monkey off your back here in your last year?
BOBBY RAHAL: It's just important to win, period, for whatever reason you want to attribute it to. Whether it's been a long time or whether it's been a short time, I mean, you're driver's out there to win. I don't think about how long it's been. I know we've been awfully close. I know we've had races won and then just had some unfortunate circumstances that kept us from winning in the last several years. The ability to win has never been an issue. I think we've had -- all the planets haven't been in alignment, unfortunately, for us. I feel they are this year, irrespective of last weekend. We are committed to winning, doing everything we can to do it. You know, when I get into a race, all I'm thinking about is that individual race. I'm not thinking about whether it's been one month or one year.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Bobby, don't you think some of the fun of this, in addition to you winning in your final season, is going to be seeing Bryan bust a couple loose here?
BOBBY RAHAL: Absolutely. Absolutely. I feel, and I've said this many times on several of these programs, I feel it's going to be a great year for Team Rahal, not just for Bobby Rahal. As important as it is for Bobby Rahal to be a winner, for me personally, this team to be a winner is just as important. You know, we're working hard to achieve both those aims.
Q. Congratulations to Bobby for a great career as a driver, Team Rahal in putting together as a class program, and to Dave for just being Dave.
DAVID LETTERMAN: (Laughter). That's certainly damning with faint praise.
Q. From NASCAR country, Bobby, if you could talk a little bit about your past involvement as a driver, your current involvement with the Tom Gloy in that effort, and your future plans here in NASCAR country?
BOBBY RAHAL: My involvement as a driver was very fleeting. I drove at Riverside in 1984 with the Woods brothers' effort. We didn't finish the race. Qualified about 20th, I think, somewhere like that, out of about 45 cars or thereabouts. I really enjoyed it. But obviously Indy cars, you know, and sports car racing was my main area. It was never going to be for me, you know, much of a career in NASCAR, just because of everything else going on. But I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed being with the Woods family. They are the nicest people. I really enjoyed getting to know legends like they are, both Glen and Leonard. Of course getting to know Eddie earlier on. It was very fleeting. Had fun while it lasted. Just sort of one off. The Truck program I think is a step back into it for myself, although Tom Gloy is the majority owner, I have a very minor position in it. As a business, you have to look at NASCAR as another effort, somewhere down the line. I mean, we don't have the time for it right now. At one point in time, I think if we can find a sponsor, if we can really create the kind of team that it would take to win, because I really wouldn't have any interest in being there for any other reason, you know, we'd probably like to do it. But when that is going to happen is anyone's guess really.
Q. Bobby, did you ever look at how Harry Gant put together his final ride, Richard Petty's farewell tour?
BOBBY RAHAL: You know, I guess we did it differently to a large extent in the sense that just the idea of a final tour, I don't know if it was Harry or Richard that really started that, Mario obviously has done it as well. It seems to be kind of the thing to do these days. And it is very flattering because everybody tells you how great you've been, all the other stuff. I guess our aims have maybe been a little bit different in terms of the foundation, trying to give something back rather than just continuing to try to generate more income or what have you. You know, I'm not that familiar with all the tours and everything they did. I think just the overall concept of a good-bye tour certainly was something that we saw others doing. But we just wanted to try to make ours as different and unique as possible.
DAVID LETTERMAN: I was hoping that Bobby would retire in a year from now so this would actually be the next-to-the-last ride, just get everything we can out of this.
BOBBY RAHAL: Actually, I'm kidding you. I am going to race again next year. This is just a big ruse (laughter).
DAVID LETTERMAN: I remember when the Woods brothers came to Indianapolis to work the pits. I'm telling you, when I was a kid, just wasn't a bigger thrill than those years in the early and mid-'60s. Very exciting.
BOBBY RAHAL: No question about it. The pit stops you see today are nothing more than -- they were the inventors of that, I think.
DAVID LETTERMAN: They really perfected it. They were much faster than other guys doing it.
BOBBY RAHAL: That's right.
Q. David, in his great career, Bobby has come close, but he's never won at the Milwaukee Mile at Elkhart Lakes. Now in your final year, is there something you can do to help him get out of the schneid?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Let me say this: Anytime I have the opportunity to help anybody, man, woman or child, to get off the schneid, I'm there. I'm going to go the extra mile. There's nothing worse than being object on the schneid. Sounds to me like no one knows that better than you, sir (laughter).
Q. To follow up on the question of Dave's future involvement in the team, can you not get the team to build you a two-seater like the McLaren F-1?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Do you think that's a good idea? I looked at that thing and I said to myself, "Ron Dennis must have nothing but free time to handle all the litigation, people are just lining up to sue this outfit."
Q. Bobby, as you look back at your career and Jim Trueman and all you two were able to accomplish before he passed on in 1986, have you been able to take some of the things that he taught you along with you, and do you pass those things onto Bryan Herta?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I'm trying. Let's put it that way. Jim left an awfully tough example to follow. Oftentimes, particularly since I've become an owner, I've wondered how he would react to things, what he would do in this situation. You know, I can only be my own person, I guess, so to speak. But there's no question that I often think of him and I often wonder and think back as to how he may have handled similar types of situations. There's no question that even though he's been gone for quite some time, that he still serves as a tremendous guide and role model for me.
Q. Dave, by the way, the IKF championships are here in Marshal Town. You're welcome to come drive with us anytime.
DAVID LETTERMAN: What's there?
Q. International carting.
DAVID LETTERMAN: I'm pretty good. I hold the track record out there in Ventura, all-time. I lopped like five seconds off the existing record. I'm pretty quick.
Q. David, I wanted to ask you, what legacy will Bobby leave behind purely as a driver when he hangs it up? What is it about him that just in your mind has stood out over the years ability-wise?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Well for me, since I've been kind of paying attention to automobile racing, which is most of my life, there are guys that you kind of remember both for their career and achievements and also just as guys. You think of guys like Graham Hill, Jimmy Clark, Alain Prost, and a few others. I think Bobby's right there. Here is a guy who did it really, really well, and always made it look easy and graceful. There are certain guys you remember for exploits on the track only. In Bobby's case, you know, it's a bigger picture than that.
Q. Having your history, your history, your background of keeping up with auto racing, especially from an Indy standpoint, is Indy car or CART missing that big headline event right now like the Daytona 500 does for NASCAR that focuses the world on CART as opposed to just the race fans?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Of course, it would be great if they still had the Indianapolis 500 on the schedule, although you take a look at some of the events, like Long Beach, gee, that's not a bad outing. That's a pretty good weekend. Elkhart Lake, that's also a pretty nice event. There are others, the race at Michigan, and now at Fontana. I think the only difference, there's nothing more exciting, you know, it's not that we're missing something really exciting, it's what you don't get here is we don't have a 75-year tradition yet. That will come eventually. Like I say, we have a few now that are fairly well established, a couple of new venues that are very, very exciting. It's just a damn shame, you know, because who among us would have thought we'd still be talking about this. It's too bad, you know. It's just a shame. I think that the organization as a whole has never been stronger. I think it's very, very exciting. I think the only thing we have to worry about now is why does Andrew Craig still have an accent? He's been in this country for 15 years. We get that straightened out, we'll be in business.
Q. Why is it important for you guys to be in Japan? Can you outline that? I think it's pretty obvious to a certain extent, where else do you see you guys going in the next several years in this series?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I think you're going to see us in more races here in the United States first before we go anywhere else overseas. There are a lot of people interested in having CART races. I believe that, you know, we've always been a relatively national championship. We should always stay that way. If there's good business reasons to be going overseas or out of the boundaries of the United States, then I think we should go. You know, certainly Japan fits that. When you look at the fact that Honda and Toyota are involved in the series, you look at their role in the automobile marketplace in this country, Miller sells beer in Japan, the list goes on and on. All of our sponsors have business interests in Japan, whether it's Textron, Hewlett Packard, you name it. It makes sense to go to those kinds of places. Doesn't make sense for us to go to somewhere, Italy, for example, as much as that would be fun, because the Italians are the greatest racing fans in the world, not a lot of business reasons for us to be there. I think we have to be careful, we have to pick and choose. Also we have to grow the series, increase the number, increase the number here in the United States to begin with. But I think places like Japan definitely make sense.
Q. In this "global economy situation" that's ever developing, have y'all positioned yourselves better in some respects to take advantage of that than perhaps NASCAR has?
BOBBY RAHAL: I mean, we appear outside of the United States considerably more often than NASCAR does. I mean, think we don't want to be Formula 1. Formula 1 is there. But I think we have to be responsive to the fact that it is a global economy, and there are business reasons for our sponsors to be elsewhere, and for us to export kind of an American, very distinct American brand of racing. You know, as I say, I don't think we're trying to be somebody that we're not. But I think if there are opportunities overseas or in South America or Mexico or wherever, just like in Canada, if they make sense, I think we should try to go.
Q. Question for Dave. You're considered a source of good luck when you do attend races. We were wondering up here if you plan on making the Cleveland Grand Prix?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Again, it's entirely up to the schedule. I'm -- I've seen the race. I think the first time I saw Bobby win was at Cleveland.
BOBBY RAHAL: Yes.
DAVID LETTERMAN: It couldn't be more thrilling, that the main straight away is several miles wide. I would like to go. Again, it's purely a matter of scheduling.
Q. You sent your mom all over the world to cover sporting events. When are we going to see her at a race as part of the Miller Light pit crew?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Now you're talking. This is the best idea I've heard in years. We'll just send mom out. We'll get mom a motorhome, turn her loose (laughter). We'll have mom judging wet T-shirt contests. It will be great.
Q. A question each for Dave and Bobby. What do you get out of racing, aside from fun? Are you looking for marketing opportunities, anything that you represent or do?
BOBBY RAHAL: I mean, we have a number of car dealerships. We use our racing past or history, I guess you'd say, to try to take some advantage of that. But right now I'm doing it because ultimately it is fun. I mean, yeah, we're here to provide a service for our sponsors, that's what keeps us going. I think there's no one single aspect of it that overrides any other. It's just a combination of them all. Building a company like we're doing with Team Rahal, as I've always said, the expectation of that is to go way beyond my individual driving career. The best way we can do that is to be the best team and to run the business the best way. I don't think there's any -- there's no restriction on what we're trying to do, but more importantly what we are doing, we're trying to do the best way possible. That might involve our automobile dealerships on certain occasions, and other times it may not.
Q. Driver development is becoming a very popular idea right now. Is there anything that you are looking to do to further bring up the younger ranks? Dave talked earlier about his participation.
BOBBY RAHAL: Like I say, driver development. We have an Indy Lights team sponsored by Textron automotive, which is a new effort for us this year. A young guy named Mike Borkowski, a Cornell grad, has won the Sport 2000 Championship here in the States, is driving the car for us. He won two TransAm races for us last year. Mike is a guy that we're trying to create an opportunity for, and he was doing very well in his first Lights race. He was running third at Homestead until he had a little bit of a problem. I think he's got some talent. I think driver development is something that's always been of interest to me, because really it's the legacy of Jim Trueman. I remember the opportunity that he gave me early on in my career that allowed me to continue to progress. So that is a very important aspect to me. But it is just one aspect.
Q. Dave, do you think grilled cheese will ever be as popular as ham?
DAVID LETTERMAN: In response to the question, what does Bobby get out of racing personally and professionally, maybe what I get out of racing, a couple years ago when Bobby switched to Ford, I was hoping to get a deal on a Taurus. That never really saw the light of day.
TOM BLATTLER: At this point I think we're getting towards the end. We'll have one last question.
Q. Scotland calling. Question for both guys. First of all, Bobby, the news we're going to get tomorrow is that Nigel Mansell is going to come back to drive in British touring cars this season. You're retiring and Nigel is coming back. What do you think makes a driver like Nigel, who has done all he has --
BOBBY RAHAL: I don't know. Maybe he's bored. I don't know. You know, for one thing, I thought seriously about maybe I would just retire from driving CART Championship cars, I'd go do endurance racing or what have you. I've got to tell you, once you've driven these cars, I'm never sure you'd be that interested in driving anything else or that satisfied while you were driving them. I think ultimately you've got to be -- it's got to be satisfying to you to do it. You know, that coupled with the fact that I'm going to have my hands full just running what we have here, the team, the Indy Lights program.
Q. That will work out as a good thing then?
BOBBY RAHAL: I think so. I was always impressed the way Jackie Stewart did it. Just up and say "I'm retired," never saw him again in a competitive situation. That way the memory stays intact, the fans' memory of your career and you stays the way they would like it to be. They don't have to be confronted with you diminishing whatever career you might have had.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Going back to that earlier point regarding Bobby and his career and what it meant to me and what impressed me about it, I was rattling off lists of drivers' names, I think you have to add Dan Gurney and Jackie Stewart to that list as well.
Q. David, just your thoughts on Formula 1? Is that something that gets room in the Letterman household on TV or do you much prefer CART for whatever reasons?
DAVID LETTERMAN: Well, I have a real affinity for CART because that's the genesis of what I grew up with, going out to the Indianapolis 500 year after year. Man, I'm telling you, used to be really exciting, because when I was a kid and you go out there, every year there was going to be something different. This is the days of that race when guys were drawing up the plans for their car with a hunk of chalk, they would just draw it right there on the garage floor, build the son of a bitch and go race it. In addition to a great event, a great world focusing attention-getting event, it was also like going to an auto show every year because you didn't know what the hell you were going to see, you didn't know what engine combination, what really was up. Then on top of that, when I got a little older is when they started going with the Cooper Climax, '63, Jack, then the configuration of the cars changed entirely. So that's really, you know, where my heart is with all of this. It would be the Indianapolis cars, Indy cars as well. I get a real kick out of Formula 1, but, boy, based on Australia, it looks like we have one of these McLaren 1-2 things going again. That almost put them out of business, as far as I was concerned. We'll see what happens.
Q. Do you think in some ways the variety of CART, with the ovals and roads, everything, is one thing that really blocks a return to America for a Grand Prix race because people can see so much variety in the CART series, that they don't need another form of motor sport to come along?
DAVID LETTERMAN: I think the only thing that's blocking F-One returning to the United States is Bernie Eccelstone's personal bank account, how much does this man want to put in that column? I do think there's room for all of these events.
TOM BLATTLER: Thank you, very much, for everyone that's participating today. I want to thank very much to David and Bobby for their participation.
DAVID LETTERMAN: How did we do compared to that thing with Paul Newman? It was better than that, wasn't it (laughter)?
TOM BLATTLER: Definitely better. We didn't have to wake anybody up this time. In addition, as we said, the Team Rahal operation will be leaving on Saturday for Japan and then coming straight back into Long Beach, so we'll be on the road for two weeks. If you're interested in a transcript of this teleconference, can you reach me at nine 096989650. We'll be glad to get that off to you in the morning. Thanks, very much, for your participation. We look forward to seeing you at the next race.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Thank you.
BOBBY RAHAL: Thanks.
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