CART Media Conference
June 29, 1999
T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everybody. Welcome to the CART Media Teleconference. We'd like to take this time to thank you all for being with us this afternoon. Our guest today is driver Roberto Moreno of the PacWest Racing Group who has turned in an outstanding performance while filling in for the injured Mark Blundell in the Motorola PacWest Mercedes. Good afternoon, Roberto, thanks for joining us today.
ROBERTO MORENO: Good afternoon.
T.E. McHALE: Since first stepping in Mark for at Rio de Janeiro last month, Roberto has put together a streak of five consecutive finishes with PPG Cup points which is a career best. The highlight has been a fourth place finish at Gateway International Raceway after starting 19th. Roberto extended his points paying streak 25 with an 8th place finish at Sunday's Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by FirstStar. Heading into the July 11th Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America, and in spite of having sat out the first four events of the FedEx Championship Series season, Roberto stands 14th in the Championship with 26 points. The Texaco/Havoline 200, Round 10 of the FedEx Championship Series, will be televised live on ABC TV on Sunday July 11 beginning at 2:00 P.M. eastern time. Before we get started with questions for Roberto, I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to Walt Glatthaar of KMOX Radio in St. Louis who passed away suddenly this past Sunday morning. As many of you know, Walt was a regular participant on these teleconferences and a great friend not only to the FedEx Championship Series, but to all forms of motor sport. His passing leaves a void which can never be filled. And I know how much I am going to miss speaking with him every Tuesday afternoon. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the CART community are with Walt's family in their time of loss. We will open it up to questions for Roberto.
Q. Loan me some money, Moreno!
ROBERTO MORENO: How are you? (laughs).
Q. Just basically I guess -- I mean, you had two good races in the IRL, you had five good races in a row here. It looks like you have gotten better as you have gotten older -- I think you probably drove every bad Formula 1 car they made. At least maybe this speaks well of finally getting a chance with good equipment.
ROBERTO MORENO: Well, the way I would put it is I always chasing the right opportunity and not very often I got them. I have done anything that took to keep racing and that is why you see me with some bad equipment, and not performing so well in many cases. But I always push hard and always wanted to be involved and, if anything, I have taken some of the smaller teams in the past up in performance level. I have done that in Formula 1 a couple of times; in 3000, and I had to do that because I always have somehow missed the best packages at the beginning of the year. So I had to go into situations that were not very well funded and make the most of it. If you look back at my career I always been doing that.
Q. We joke about this at the airport, but there has to be some serious consideration for PacWest running three cars as well as have you run; have you talked to Bruce at all about it? Is there an option for that maybe?
ROBERTO MORENO: No, we haven't talked about that at all. Bruce is a great guy. He is an honorable man. He couldn't just in the middle of the season justify, in my opinion, suddenly just putting a third car in. You need to hire people. You need to do all sort of things. You couldn't just test team to become a race team suddenly because the test team needs to continue as a test team. I don't know. As much as I wish that would happen, I don't think it is real.
Q. Would they have you be the test team driver maybe or --
ROBERTO MORENO: They will have to continue with that two drivers testing really because all the new stuff that comes, they get, you know, to know first -- it is not right for me to come in -- if it was extra, let us say, if their two drivers are doing testing and they have a third car for extra testing, that is something. But like they testing today Mauricio is testing which is the right thing to do.
Q. Thank you.
ROBERTO MORENO: I appreciate the way you looking and as much as I would like to continue racing, fighting for the Championship, I think I have to throw the towel on this one. (laughs).
Q. Congratulations to our dear Roberto. Long time friend.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thank you.
Q. In Europe your name had come out in magazines that mentioned you as probably tester or racer for 2002, 2001. Our colleague from Indianapolis already beat us - do you have a chance that you can talk with McCauley for a third race for a third car?
ROBERTO MORENO: Yeah, that is what -- you mean for this year?
Q. Well, eventually next year.
ROBERTO MORENO: Well, no, it is just what I was saying, we have not talked about this and as much as I would love to be racing, I don't think that is a possibility at this point.
Q. In case nothing happens over here, what do you do, you go back to the other side or you prefer to go back to Europe?
ROBERTO MORENO: No, I am based in the United States now. I am base based in Western Florida which used to be called Ft. Lauderdale; now it became its own city. I have asked for my green card. I have no intentions to go back to Europe anymore. If I do go, it would be to do a one-off or two races, sort of thing, because the main thing in my career is to continue driving in whatever situation that is available for me to do. Hopefully I can race a full-time ride for next year in CART which is my ultimate goal.
Q. Let me correct you, one thing about our American colleague when they read about Pupo, they don't know what it is. Pupo, Pupo, what kind of name -- when you were in Europe in Formula 1, because you were small and they considered you a young kid, so they called you Pupo. Pupo means the young son; nothing exceptional. The one they mentioned it, mentioned Pupo like you come from the other side....
ROBERTO MORENO: Let me correct you on that as well. Although, in Italy, Pupo sounds like a small guy, it is my mother's family name. In Brazil a person is given the last name as father's family name which is Moreno. The middle name of the person becomes the mother family's name which is Pupo. They give you a name, which is Roberto. So my full-time is Roberto, Pupo Moreno. In Europe -- in Brazil, it was developed as Pupo Moreno. Like if I say to somebody in Brazil, I am Moreno, nobody knows, but if I say I am Pupo-Moreno everybody knows. So I started to use this name in Europe which got -- everybody got used to it very well. When I came to the United States I was a advised by the I first team I drove in 1996 that I shouldn't use Pupo because it sounds like a kid's pupo (phonetic). So we stopped using that here. But some people still carrying it on. Which I don't mind at all because it is my real name.
Q. We will write again to clear up even this one. Congratulations again.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thank you.
Q. How in the world, Roberto, have you and the PacWest Team, I mean, just right off, you guys seem like you have been racing together for years.
ROBERTO MORENO: Now, you touch a good point. I think it is just because I have done this for so many years, I have been around for 20 years since my first race in England. I have worked with English engineers for maybe ten or twelve years of my life. I have worked with all kinds of engineers. In PacWest I got along very well with Allen McDonald and Matt who are my engineers. Allen knows me from Europe. He is from England. We just hit straight from the first day. We -- actually the first time we had a sort of a debate on things, I believe that should be done and he believed should be done and from there on we just sort of agreed to many things. It has just has been - how can I put this - it has been like a marriage sort of thing. We look to each other, we know -- he knows by my eyes's look if I like what he wants to do in the car or not. Then he will suggest the next thing or not. That relationship is the key factor for our performance. I think the things that we have learned together now on those five races and things we developed in the car, it is going to help the team throughout the season.
Q. Have these five races been full of pressure for you in regard too, well, you know, I have really got to show what I can do or has it been relaxing as if, well, I got really nothing to prove except just go out and drive the race car?
ROBERTO MORENO: Not really. The way I drive -- when I drive a race car I am very, very professional. Racing is the first thing in my life, if my family are fit and healthy, and they all know this at home and if you look careful, I haven't taken my family to the races. I dedicated myself a lot because I knew it was very -- it would be a lot of -- it would be necessary to focus a lot and do my best because performance would be a key factor for me to help my career on the future because I knew that this opportunity would help me to open doors for the future. I needed to make the most of this. So it has been a lot of pressure and -- but nothing different than, you know, I have been suffering for 20 years in racing. It is just normal for a race car driver -- if we can't take pressure, we are no good. But it has been extremely good for my career. I was talking to Bruce after the race and I was thanking him because the opportunity he gave me, he opened the doors again for me for the future.
Q. Has it been frustrating for you for these 20 years to be in a situation where it is almost like you are always looking for that perfect ride?
ROBERTO MORENO: Well, I had many good rides and the way I did, I always made the most out of them and I was champion a few occasions and I always was in the Top 3 at the end of the season. It has been frustrating many times when -- you know, you can go and be with the best performance with the best not being able to, yes. But I have handled that in a positive way, as I always do, with things in my life. I just take the positive things out of each situation and go on for the next one. It is not that I always been a superstar like they are calling me now. But because the situation replacing Christian in 1997 and Newman Haas and now with Mark, I got that name. What I really been chasing since I moved to the United States in 1996 is a full-time ride on a competitive team.
Q. It has been wonderful to see you run this year and has anybody else talked to you about the rest of the season or are you just going to test for PacWest or are there other rides available you have been seeking?
ROBERTO MORENO: No. I am not going to be testing for PacWest. I am complete available at the moment. PacWest will continue testing with their two drivers, Mauricio and Mark. Only if Mark is doing an exam today and the result of that exam will allow him to race in Elkhart Lake and in the case that he cannot make, I will still be replacing him there. But I believe he is fully fit by what I have seen of him in the last race. I had a contact for one team, but they wanted to -- this to happen a couple of races ago and I told them as long as Mark was not back, I was going to be available for PacWest. So I missed that opportunity. I am still looking for something to do. If there is nothing in CART - which I don't think there is - I will do separate races in other categories and I will work on next year which is not yet clear what is going to be happening.
Q. You have got some contacts with IRL; you might run there or sports cars?
ROBERTO MORENO: Well, anything that I can drive, I will try to do because a driver, his place is behind a wheel and you need to be performing to be sharp. So IRL has helped me to develop a little bit more my techniques on the ovals, which helped my performance at CART as well in St. Louis and Milwaukee. So racing is necessary for a driver to keep sharp. I will try to do -- I don't have anything lined up yet. I just came home after a long time and I am going to be working on that very soon.
Q. You are a gentleman. We appreciate seeing you in this sport and always enjoy watch you running and hope you find something soon.
ROBERTO MORENO: And I hope you see a lot of me yet. Thank you.
Q. Roberto, sounds like right now you are sort of on standby - see what happens with Mark and maybe on a day-to-day status then - would you mentally prepare yourself for this grueling road course? A lot of drivers come here every year, they say they like Road America; it is grueling, but that it is a true natural road course; not a temporary road course that are set up like other road courses. How would you mentally prepare?
ROBERTO MORENO: I am quite comfortable with that because we actually have been testing there last Tuesday, I spent a day at Elkhart Lake testing. Mark was supposed to go. He wasn't fit yet, so did a day and Mauricio did a day. We went quite well there. I don't know if -- you know -- but Elkhart Lake has been my -- I raced in Elkhart Lake in 1985, when I came to do five races for Gallus Racing. And it was my second race here in the United States in CART. I started third, led the race by a long -- for a long time until I had some mechanical problems on the pit stops. So it is a racetrack that I love. What I would add to what the other drivers would say, you have different kind of corners in one circuit. It is a mixture of slow, medium and fast corners, and in a permanent circuit which reminds me of a racetrack that I love in Belgium which is a very, very challenging circuit. I am well prepared for this race to answer your question. If Mark still needs to be another race out, I will be there. But he looked fit to me. So I think he will pass this exam today and he will be racing.
Q. Thank you very much. If we don't see you in this race hopefully we will see you back in Milwaukee next year or back here with the --
ROBERTO MORENO: I appreciate it. By the way, if I am not racing on the CART race, I will be racing on Friday night in a go-cart race with the Pace Car Girls.
Q. I noticed that your coverage of Cleveland you were given more broadcast and air time coverage than any driver outside of the podium. Also in the past few years everyone has had nothing but wonderful things to say about you. But for some reason you are not being at all aggressively pursued when it comes to long-term contracts. So from the point of view of the teams, why do you think that they are not aggressively seeking you for a contract?
ROBERTO MORENO: Well, it doesn't work that way. When I came here in 1996 I had a sponsorship from Brazil, raced for the year. Then things didn't go very well for the following year; we tried to do the season but after the first race the relationship was broken. I was out of a ride. That was already too late to do a deal with any other team. As it happened, it worked for my benefit because Christian got hurt the next race and people realized I wasn't there, so I was the first name to come into the picture. That allowed me to drive with one of the top teams at the time and to show some performance for, I believe, it was six races. Christian came back and halfway in the season you can't get a ride, so towards the end of the year, so I continue chasing always and in 1998 I missed the boat unfortunately, the availabilities that were out there for me, I would have to bring a sponsorship and I didn't have any to do for 1998. So I did a couple of races with a small team that stopped racing after three races. I happen to come to Milwaukee to watch the Milwaukee race and Christian Fittipaldi crashed and wasn't going to race that weekends so Carl has put me in the car the last minute and since then I have been testing for Penske after that. So I always kept myself busy and yes, I did miss the opportunity this year again in the top team or in a full-time ride; I can't answer the question why, but I always kept my positive attitude and I always made sure I was available and people knew that if they ever need me, I would be ready for them and things happen again.
Q. It is going to be sad to see you sitting on the sidelines. I know Mark wants to get back in the car. Talk about the series from your perspective; how it has evolved over the last couple of years. You have had some interesting vantage points having been available for several teams; testing different cars. Give us your comments.
ROBERTO MORENO: Oh, well, it has been an experience, I must say, because I got to taste a low budget team; a team with all the budget; a team that had some difficult in other areas, so I tested different cars as well, which is -- puts me in a unique situation because I have tested the Lola, the Penske, the Reynard, and the Swift. So I got to taste all of them and I know the advantage and their weakness. I have been able to put all this into my benefit on this break on the past five races. So it has only been good for me really because what has opened some peoples' eyes the fact that I came in as very short time perform and make points in every race. I can only say I made most of that use, although it is always difficult to come, you know, from one team to another team, and different cars and takes different setups. So I have been able to learn a bit of everything and apply to it in the past five races.
Q. When I was at the pits in Portland, I talked to one of the PacWest Team members and I know somebody else -- third car for PacWest Team member actually said: Wish we had a third car to keep Roberto...
ROBERTO MORENO: Me too.
Q. Keep your fingers crossed.
ROBERTO MORENO: Me too. It hasn't come to me yet. I guess when I go and watch the next race I will get my feelings out, but at the moment, I am still very, very pleased that I have been the one choosing for the situation, if somebody had to replace a driver, you know. So I was very, very fortunate that Bruce McCauley thought about me and I tell you, I am very, very glad and I told Bruce any time, anything I can do for him in the future, I will be there for him.
Q. Mark Blundell is a helluva nice guy and helluva race car driver but real world, have you thought about hiding the keys to the cars so maybe he couldn't start it and you just climb in real quick?
ROBERTO MORENO: No, unfortunately can't happen, and I am sure he is going to take full use of the setups and things that we have developed together and I am sure Mark will bring -- will follow-up what the Motorola PacWest Team has been done for making points and I am sure is he going to bring the car up front very, very soon.
Q. Is there a lesson that young race car drivers can learn from Roberto Moreno through all of this?
ROBERTO MORENO: Dedication; focus in anything in life is very important. I think that is the key thing to me. If I do something, I do it fully and I dedicate it fully. If you do that, anything that you do in life, you will be successful no matter what kind of business you are. I think that is the only thing I could probably pass along really.
Q. Look at the IRL CART split, you have been on both sides this year and when people say --
ROBERTO MORENO: You like to talk about the two, don't you? I need to be neutral on it, I am just a race car driver.
Q. You have a very good perspective because you have been on both sides. What do you say to the people about -- what would you say to the general public about trying to get this thing back together and what is your advise to them?
ROBERTO MORENO: I tell you they are both great series. I have enjoyed both of them. I wish -- now what I see, there is more opportunities for more drivers. I would love to see everybody, though, racing at the Indy 500 together. But what this has created, in my opinion, is more opportunities. At the beginning of the year, when I didn't have anything, I was able to put together a deal and I raced the IndyCar 500 and I had a shot of winning at that. I just wish everybody could have the opportunity -- I mean, the rules could meet together for the Indy 500 so everybody can have a shot at it. But I love both categories. I think they both are great. If I have an opportunity I will be racing again in either one.
Q. Biggest difference between driving the cars for you.
ROBERTO MORENO: I think the feeling of the turbo charge and the non-turbo charge. The IRL has no turbo and therefore it is about momentum, keeping the momentum up, meaning just try not to let the rest of -- come down. And CART is about how you put the power that you have on the ground really. So it is about making the most of the setups that you can use the power downforce relationship which is you got less downforce for more power in some cases in the ovals because the winning setups that they use in CART. And the winning setups that you are obliged to use in IRL gives the driver a lot of confidence in driving. I went to Atlanta, for example - I have never been there before - and I tested the IRL car and in eight laps I was going flat all the way because we use a lot of downforce and the engine doesn't have that suddenly power curve so it was -- the circuit is so fast, so it was quite easy to go around flat. Again, I think they both have its benefits.
T.E. McHALE: Thanks a lot. We will wrap it up for today. We want to thank Roberto Moreno for being our guest this afternoon. Roberto, thanks a lot. Congratulations on a great run in the past five races and we hope to be seeing you soon somewhere down the line in the FedEx Championship Series.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thank you very much. And me too, and I wish I could be there the next race. But whatever happens I had a good time and I am sure I am going to be back at some stage.
T.E. McHALE: We had a good time watching you. Thanks again, Roberto. Thanks to all of you for joining us this afternoon and we will talk to you next week.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thank you, take care.
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