CART Media Conference
MODERATOR: Today's announcement will be made by Keith Bane, executive vice-president and president of Motorola global strategy and corporate development. Tom Elliott, executive vice-president of American Honda. Barry Green, owner of Team Green and Kim Green, general manager.
KEITH BANE: Thank you and good afternoon. I thank all of you who came personally and I'd like to thank all those who are joining us by satellite and teleconferencing. Today is a wonderful day in Motorola's history. Motorola first began to sponsor motor sports in 1935 at Indianapolis. One of the things that Motorola strives to do is to create legacies bringing out new technologies and new products for our customers around the world. When you think of the word "legacy," you think of the Andretti name, the Andretti family, Mario and Michael. Today it is just an outstanding pleasure for us to announce the relationship between Motorola, Michael Andretti and also to have the wonderful opportunity to join another legacy, Barry and Kim Green who have demonstrated a legacy of winning. And we also return to Honda who first started in CART several years ago and we are welcomed for that reunion. So we here today to announce Team Motorola No. 39, Barry and Kim Green, Honda, Michael Andretti. Motorola has an essence statement - try to tell our employees and customers what we are about. That statement is: Motorola links people to dreams, technology -- technology's promise. I think it is very appropriate because I look to Michael. Michael links peoples' dreams with winning races. That is what we are going to be all about in the future. (inaudible)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Thank you. I am so very excited. Now Kim is going to be able to find me no matter where I am at. I am just so ecstatic about getting together with Motorola and Team Green, Barry, and myself go back a long way and I have known Kim for many years and I just can't wait to work with Kim. It's a first-class organization and I am very excited about having the Honda behind me. For once it will be behind me. There is many times where I have been behind it. So I am looking forward to that. It is just a perfect situation for myself. I am very excited. I am very excited again with Motorola. I think they are a fantastic people to deal with. (inaudible) It is so pleasurable already. Motorola is such a natural for auto racing because of the technology involved and Motorola's -- and all aspects of our life, if you really dig into it, it is a huge company and I am going to learn more about it. And I am very excited about that. I just can't wait to get out on the racetrack and give that Honda a try. I am excited about getting back with Reynard who I was able to give their first win to Reynard, so I am hoping I can give them a couple more before this is all done and, obviously, Firestone, too. So we are going to have the combination, I think, that we have been getting beat the last few years and now it is going to be nice to have the right combination. So I am looking forward to it, and again looking forward to working with Kim.
KEITH BANE: Before I turn it over to you, I have a shirt that I'd like to give Mike. Kim is going to give you his and then we have to give Tom one.
KIM GREEN: It is a very exciting day for Team Green. Motorola and Honda, two of the most successful (inaudible) organizations not just in racing (inaudible) Michael Andretti, we have a driver with world-class ability, fitness, desire and skills unquestionable. The partnership between Team Green and Motorola promises fighting, innovation; most of all, productive. We will talk a little bit about that more in the Q and A part of the conference. I'd like to ask my brother Barry to say a few words.
BARRY GREEN: Thank you. I don't have a lot to add other than to say I am thrilled to have Team Motorola as part of our organization, and to have Michael Andretti on this race team. As many of you know, Michael and I had three wonderful years working together at Kraco Racing back in 1986 and 1987 and 1988. But since then we have had many battles against each other. And it is thrilling to know that he is going to be racing for us instead of against us. I am also extremely proud that we are expanding our program, our partnership with Honda. Honda has played a huge part in the success of this race team over the last four years. It is a tremendous partnership. Their engines are simply the best and their commitment to winning is second to none. Tom Elliott is one of the people most responsible for Honda's success in CART. I'd like to ask Tom to just to add a few comments to this announcement.
TOM ELLIOTT: (inaudible).
VOICE: My closing comment would only be this: We are dealing with legends. Word has it that Mario Andretti has won 52 races. Michael Schumacher just won his 42nd race. Michael Andretti is at 40 races. Michael and I have made a little pact, the two of them better look in their rearview mirrors because we are going to be behind them; right Michael?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: All right.
MODERATOR: That concludes our formal remarks. We will open the floor and our phone lines to questions. We will start with the floor.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Actually it was an opportunity, I think is a better way of putting it. I believe the way things came down with my contract with Carl that he basically released me and made me a free agent and the first person that we let that be known to was Barry because I have always liked the way his operation was run and I loved working with him in the past. And this was the first place that I really wanted to go to. And we have talked to Barry many times in the past and John gave Barry a call and one thing led to the other and then we were so fortunate to get the opportunity to have Motorola involved and Honda; just the whole thing, it seemed like everything just really came together and clicked. Those are always the best deals when it comes down that way. And it just felt right right from the beginning once it all (inaudible).
Q. Talk about how many people you will have to add to run three cars. Will Kim run Michael and will Peter Gibbons be part of the mix?
Q. You have talked about your desire to run the Indianapolis 500. I guess could all of you address whether Team Motorola, No. 39, will be making an attack on it?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Right now I don't know. I, for one, would definitely like to do Indianapolis. What is going to happen there, I don't know yet. As Barry said, it has taken a lot to get this all together and now that we have got this together, one thing we know is we have talked about that and it is open. So if we can make things work; I, for one, would like to get it (inaudible) --
Q. Barry, with the powerhouse that you have already with Dario and with Paul Tracy, and with how difficult it is to win, or to consistently win, or to dominate, why add a third car at this stage? Is it a business decision or is it another option to win more races? In other words, the point I am getting it, it is so hard to win with two, why add a third one at this stage?
BARRY GREEN: (inaudible).
MODERATOR: T.E., we are going to turn the question and answer session ever over to you.
T.E. McHALE: Very good. We will begin taking questions from our callers at this point. We will open with Mike Harris from the Associated Press. Good afternoon.
Q. Barry, we are having a real problem, I am anyway, hearing your answers. You are cutting in and out, so maybe it's the mike or something. I could hear Mike okay. Can you gentlemen comment about the ownership on this? Is Mike or Mario going to have any ownership in it and also, Barry, could you comment a little bit about what you are thinking about Indy? Are you interested in going if it can be worked out?
BARRY GREEN: First, can you hear me okay?
Q. I can now.
BARRY GREEN: First, on the ownership, Michael was too expensive as a driver to worry about being a partner in this business.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, I don't want to pay myself.
BARRY GREEN: So, no, Michael is a driver and only a driver and one we are very excited about and plays no part in the ownership of the race team. In regards to Indianapolis, it is something that, you know, it is very much on Michael's mind and has been on our mind. Our No. 1 goal right now is to put three fast race cars on the track for next season. That is all that is on our minds is putting the key people in place to do that and that is what we are focused on.
Q. Good afternoon to everybody and congratulations. Whatever Barry was doing with the microphone, I wish everybody would do it because that seemed to work and like Mike, I have been having a tough time hearing things as well. If my question kind of asks to repeat some things that have already been said, I apologize, but I wonder if Barry or Kim, you could address the question of just, you know, just sort of a practical question of how close a working relationship there will be between Team KOOL Green and Team Motorola, you know, in practical terms at the racetrack? Will you be side-by-side in the paddock? Will you have the drivers debriefing altogether or will there be some sort of -- sort of arms's length agreement where Paul and Dario work together and Michael and his people kind of work on their own and the engineers sort of share data? Could you just kind of elaborate on how the teams are going to work together?
KIM GREEN: Certainly all three engineering groups from each of the drivers will work together. Currently on the team (inaudible) The data available will be available to all engineering groups and hence all drivers. So certainly working very, very close together from an engineering standpoint and (inaudible) sharing information. I think (inaudible) Friday practice day becomes somewhat of a test day at all the race venues, I think that would hopefully give us an advantage, certainly we are determined that this three car team will be very strong and get very good results. I think will probably motivate other people to try it. So we are looking forward to the challenge.
Q. Barry, does this put to rest all the talk about your becoming team principal for BAR or is there a possibility you could do like Bobby says he is going to and run several things from 35,000 feet?
BARRY GREEN: All I can say is this is a known what we have here today and an exciting one. The BAR situation is unknown. You have to understand that I have been very involved with BAT for a long, long time with their global plans. They have been a partner of mine for a long time and a very successful one. Of course, even back in the Villeneuve days 1993, 1994, 1995 we were with BAT. And so I know everyone there and it -- there continues to be a lot of communication between them and myself. But we don't know what is going to happen there. This is what we have got to focus on today. We have got a lot of excited people on this team and we will fine tune it and talk to some people we want to talk to and, as I said before, get ready for next year with three fast cars next year, (inaudible) it was suggested not to forget about the races we have got left this year.
Q. Congratulations, guys. Good luck. Again Barry, a little bit of audio problems there earlier and we couldn't quite hear your response to the question about Peter Gibbons specifically if there is any possibility of him being a part of the team and I wonder also if there is any possibility that Michael would be free to pursue an Indy 500 program separately, those two things for Barry and if Michael has anything to add.
BARRY GREEN: Gordon, on Peter Gibbons, what I did say was that we have been very, very busy putting together this program and we have announced it today. We are very excited and positive about that and now we expect to hear from a lot of different people outside this team who would like to join it. I don't know what Peter's situation is and at the moment I am sure he is still under contract to Newman/Haas; you have to respect that. So we will see what happens in the -- after the next three races are over. But in regard to Michael perhaps running the Indy 500 with a separate team, he -- Michael has signed an exclusive contract with Team Green and if something along those lines was to come up, we would first go to our partners and talk to our partners, Motorola, and discuss the situation. Motorola and Honda and Reynard and Firestone I know want us to focus on winning that Championship next year. That is what we have committed to and that is what Michael has committed to and everyone related to Team Green.
Q. I apologize again but because of the audio problems this may have been answered. Could you review for us again the ownership situation? I did hear that Michael is not involved in the ownership, but how does this -- how does the ownership work and what does that do from a franchise standpoint?
BARRY GREEN: We have hired Michael as a driver. Michael has no ownership in Team Green. We have contracted him as a driver and Motorola as our major sponsor and a lot of support from Honda here, our engine supplier. (inaudible) does that make it clear to you?
Q. What happens if it is still under your ownership and you have three cars, are you not able to qualify for a future franchise --
BARRY GREEN: Well, at the moment there isn't -- we could not qualify for a third franchise. Day one, the maximum number of franchises you could own is two. There are people out there trying to change that system. I don't know what is going to happen. It does not make any difference to me as to whether I have a franchise or not. I am going to be a full-season entrant. I will only have two votes on the franchise board; not three as a result and that doesn't bother me knowing who else -- who my partners are, my colleagues are on in that group. There are plenty of other teams and drivers out there, drivers driving for teams that do not have franchises. I do not see any negative. I don't understand what other people are complaining about.
Q. I think you answered this, but, again, it was breaking up earlier, Indy Lights, did you say is that not continuing and the resources are now for this effort?
BARRY GREEN: That is correct. We are not going to continue with the Indy Lights team next year which is unfortunate, but our focus has to be on these three cars and as such, two teams, we are very excited about giving some of the guys on the Indy lights team an opportunity to move up and become part of the Champ Car teams. (inaudible) in the decision that all the funds and all the focus is going to be on the three Champ Cars.
Q. Is there any significance to No. 39?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Actually it is a secret (inaudible).
A VOICE: It is a winning number.
Q. Can you talk about what this does for your career at this point, announcing a deal at this time of the year and looking ahead to next year?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I am just very excited about this opportunity. I can't be with a better team.
KEITH BANE: Did say, there is a little goal that I have in mind before I retire and that is to try to catch my dad in wins and I can't think of a better team to try do that with than the Motorola Team. I am very excited about this opportunity.
Q. What are the gambles of making this kind of deal now?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I don't see one. There is not a gamble. Not one.
Q. Congratulations, everybody. I also didn't have terrific sound. If someone asked this I am going to apologize, but how long a contract -- how long is the length of this contract?
BARRY GREEN: The length of the Motorola contract is three years with several years options and the same with Michael.
Q. Good afternoon. Good luck. My question is, we are talking about next year. Would you talk a little bit about this year and how this does or does not change, Michael, change your -- anything as far as your approach? We have three more races and what will change, if anything, in the relationship between Barry, Kim and the relationship now between you at the track, at these three races?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Only thing is that they promise that if one of the KOOL cars are in front of me that they'd move over. That is the only thing that I know. But other than that, there is no effect. I think we all have our own goals here, and I am going to be fighting just as hard as ever as will the team that I am with now and I am sure they are going to do the same. It is just when we get to the end of the 500 miles at Fontana then we start new and then we get together and we start focusing on it.
Q. Barry, I am a little curious and a little suspicious. As you remember, first came a few years ago the unpleasant entry in Formula I of Michael Andretti following the winner of Indy 500, Jacques Villeneuve, with you. Then came Alex Zanardi. Now it is Juan Montoya that will leave CART. Bobby Rahal became CEO of Jaguar and last, but not least, it is you. Don't you see any suspicious business in this -- suspicious manipulation from Formula 1 in this?
BARRY GREEN: I think what you are forgetting to count are all the people that have come from Formula 1 to CART - many engineers, many mechanics, many drivers. I can't think of team owners, but I think it is a two-way street.
Q. I have a followup. One of the elite boss in the CART says that CART should be created because we send over there the best and that show that the Formula I needs CART. I mean, is there something to accept?
BARRY GREEN: No, as I said, I think it is a two-way street. I think Villeneuve did very well over here; went over there; did very well over there. I think it says a lot about CART. I have seen Formula 1 drivers, Mansell come over here did very well in Formula 1 and did very well in CART. I think it is a two-way street. I think the two businesses are very much alike and I think it is great. I just think it is great that last weekend we had a fantastic race here in Indianapolis. I think that is good for our industry, for motor racing in general and business goes on.
Q. KEITH BANE: , can you talk about, you guys had some success in 1997 with PacWest and the well went dry the last couple of years. Was there ever a choice of maybe just getting out and being frustrated? First question. Second question, financially taking care of Michael, we kind of battled for him in the press about his salary. Is it pretty staggering? I am sure you are not going to tell us. Did you have a hard time getting that by the board?
KEITH BANE: We have had a very good relationship with Bruce McCaw and PacWest. We had an opportunity to make a change. We are committed to CART and the opportunity to growing together with Barry, Kim, Michael and Honda was just a combination that we could not resist or refuse. And I have nothing to do with Michael's compensation. (inaudible)
Q. Tom, how many engine programs does Honda anticipate supporting in CART next year?
TOM ELLIOTT: This will bring us to (inaudible) seven (inaudible) --
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Did I look at it? I definitely explored it and I have got to say that there are some positives sides to it. New sponsor there and they have a direction that they want to go. I think we all have to come to the realization that there is always going to be two series and IRL has their agenda and CART has their agenda and that is the way it is going to be. The only way we will be able to get to Indianapolis is playing by the IRL rules. But I did, to answer your question, I did look at everything seriously and there was some close talks there.
Q. Barry, you talked that it is a little early making Indianapolis plans, but I was wondering in your thoughts if the driver of the 39 car goes do the drivers of the 26 and 27 automatically go or do you make this a one-car-deal only or what do you think on that?
BARRY GREEN: I want to make it very, very clear. We have got to focus on three cars in CART next year. Team Green will not be entering a car at the Indy 500 next year. We are going to focus on getting these cars up to speed. There is going to be a lot of testing to do before the start of the season - critical test days because of the no-test rule next year. And we have got a lot of work to do. We know that. We want to come out, and as Michael said, have a real chance of winning that first race.
Q. This may have been answered already. Again, it was breaking up, and I could not hear. Was it announced what chassis will be used for the No. 39 car next year and a question for Michael, in the past you had some friction between yourself and Paul Tracy. Is that past you two guys at this point?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, absolutely. To answer your question, it will be a Reynard chassis. I don't have a problem with Paul. Unfortunately we have had some get-togethers on the racetrack, but we have those with other guys as well; so has Paul, it is just a part of racing. A lot of people got to remember too that we were teammates at Newmann/Haas and never once did I have any confrontation with Paul when we were teammates. So I don't see that as a problem. I have a lot of respect for Paul's ability to set up a race car and I think he is going to be giving a lot of information to us that hopefully we can use as well as Dario. I think both guys have a good feel for the car and I know Paul -- there is a lot of things that Paul does on the race car I was able to use when we were teammates. So I am hoping that that will still be the same and I think, as Kim said, I think if you look at the way the rules are next year, having that information, that extra information of the three cars, I think is going to be a real advantage. I really do. That is one of the things I looked at in doing this because the way the rules are going, you know, track time is going to be very sparse and if you have an extra car out there learning, that is going to be so much better for all of us.
Q. Motorola, from my understanding, has some part in the new Champs movie coming up. Will you and this No. 39 car be part of that movie?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, I have a leading role now. That was part of the deal. (laughs) Me and Stallone gets second billing, but -- no, I don't know. You can let KEITH BANE: Answer that.
KEITH BANE: The movie Champs was really managed pretty much through Bruce McCaw and PacWest. And (inaudible) filmed both with the Nextel and Motorola car. I think most of their shooting is done now so we will just have to wait and see now what happens when the movie comes out.
Q. Can you describe the differences now in this Championship from when you worked with Barry before at Kraco to the situation going into 2001? I suppose it is unbelievable competition out there. I mean, you have got worry about a whole lot of people. Talk a few seconds about the difference between your attack now with Barry compared to --
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Actually we were just discussing at lunch how unbelievably competitive it has become. I said I have never worked so hard for so little, you know, the wins are so much harder to get. But I have got to say when you do get them you just appreciate them that much more and so to answer your question, things have changed dramatically since then. But you can see that Barry has definitely changed with the times as well and this team is the top team out there, so I am very happy to be a part of that.
Q. Will all three cars be based in the same race shop?
VOICE: Yes, all three cars will be based in our current facility. We have a 44,000 square foot facility here in Indianapolis. When we built the building in 1997, we actually had eight race car bays already in place. So we don't need to do very much in the way of any modifications and run the three cars out of this program.
Q. Mike, your dad went past 50 driving. You are still a relatively young 37. You are in great shape and everything. This is, for all intents and purposes, a five-year contract. Do you figure you are going to go on beyond that five years? Any thoughts at all about how long you may continue driving?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I just have no clue to be honest with you. I have to take it by how I feel at the time, and do I still want to be doing it and do I still have the drive and am I good enough to stay up with the guys up front. That is the only way I am going to do it. I am not just going to go out there and just be out there. When I am out there driving, I want to know that I have a shot at winning. And when I hit that point where I feel like I don't have a shot at winning, I definitely won't be in the car. Where that will be, at what age, I don't know.
Q. That is part of my question, Barry, what came first, was it the driver coming before the sponsorship or did the sponsorship come in line and then you were able to go out and get Michael?
BARRY GREEN: Well, be honest with you, I have to go back and check every page in my diary. There were hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and what ifs and what if and what if. All I can say is that a very good partner of mine, Honda, played a good part in helping us go down the road once we knew that Michael was available and was very interested in talking to us and very interested in driving a Honda powered car. It all sounded good to everyone. Then finally when I was talking to the right people or (inaudible) people at Motorola, and laid down what our plans were, it was just amazing actually how quick the deal went together. (inaudible) saw the opportunities there and believed in our plan and our presentation and (inaudible) just went together so quickly. Basically everyone said: Yes, yes, yes, and we signed the deal. Exactly what order? I cannot remember. I am sorry.
Q. Of the hundreds of people, hundreds of phone calls and such, did you also talk to Paul and Dario as negotiations were going on to let them know what was going on?
BARRY GREEN: Somewhere along the line, yeah.
Q. How much of the crew that you work with now will be coming with you?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I don't know exactly what our crew is going to consist of, actually. Like Barry said, we have worked hard to get to this point. Now that we have this announced now, we are going to be able to go out and talk and see what we can put together for people-wise and things like that. But to answer your question, I really don't know at this point (inaudible).
Q. If it comes a case late next year where Michael is a few points ahead of Paul, say, in the race, would you give Paul instructions not to pass Michael?
BARRY GREEN: In this case, once we leave this race shop we have two teams. We have Team KOOL Green and we have Team Motorola. If we are coming down the wire last three or four races, I am sure that can be discussed either way amongst the whole group. But at this point in time, Paul's real teammate is Dario and he is the only one out there driving a green and white car. Michael is going to be driving a blue and white car and driving for Team Motorola. You have to understand the reason why these two teams are under the same umbrella is for no other reason than to try and have the fastest three cars out there.
Q. I have got two business questions. First one for Keith Bane. You guys took a nibble at NASCAR's Winston Cup and maybe we will hear an announcement later about that. But could you tell a little why you chose to continue in CART and for Tom Elliott, I'd like to know in F-I, the engine manufacturers are talking about participation and ownership in F1. I'd like to know if you are interested in buying into CART?
KEITH BANE: First, we are the telecommunications co-sponsor with ATT for NASCAR and we have a multi-year contract with them. And we will be looking at using a car as we go forward as part of that sponsorship. As to why we continued in CART, because we believe CART and the teams and drivers that participate in CART are one of the greatest in motor sports racing. We are proud to be affiliated with CART and our sponsorship with the products and technologies that we are in is very consistent with the technologies that are utilized in the racing events with CART.
TOM ELLIOTT: I will add that Honda is (inaudible).
Q. You are breaking up, Tom, maybe you can switch to somebody else's mike.
TOM ELLIOTT: I am not sure if you can hear me.
Q. Now I can.
TOM ELLIOTT: Although we are a strong supporter and sponsor of CART, we have no desire to be a partial owner.
T.E. McHALE: Thanks, congratulations to all of you in Indianapolis.
MODERATOR: We all apologize for the audio problem. Thanks to all of you for joining us for those of you here.
Q. I have one more question. Barry, you made a pretty definite statement saying Team Green will not enter a car at the Indy 500. If this is such a big investment in each other, which it is, you and Michael Motorola and Michael and the team, why would you take a risk or a gamble and allow him to go to the Indy 500 to an environment that basically you might have no control of with one of your star players on this team?
BARRY GREEN: I have to go back, I mean, this is a known right now. We have Motorola and Michael entered 22 races next year and our focus will be on winning the Championship. That is what we know about today. We have got quite a bit of work left to do to put all the mechanics in place of the team. It is going to be a busy two or three months; testing coming up straight after the end of the season. There is a lot on. And this is what we have got to focus on. CART's schedule does not lend itself (inaudible) Indy 500 next year. My partners are Honda (inaudible) Honda does not build an engine for that series. (inaudible) we are pushing Honda. Honda is pushing us. And that, today, is what we are focused on.
Q. But is Michael free to go and do another deal for Indy if that opportunity --
BARRY GREEN: No. Michael has signed an exclusive contract with Team Green. If an opportunity presented itself, I would take it to my partners, Honda, Firestone, Motorola, and discuss it and we would do what is best for the group. The focus for us is the CART Championship and that is -- we wouldn't want Michael to take (inaudible) in any other capacity (inaudible) He has been so convinced that this is what he wanted to do. After talking to him for a while, there was no doubt. No doubt in Honda's mind, that is what they wanted to do. And (inaudible), it is just fantastic and the support for the program from Motorola has just been fantastic. Our commitment, the group's commitment, Michael's commitment right now is to the CART Series.
MODERATOR: Thank you for coming. Refreshments are in the back and one-on-one interviews are available.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|