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Indy Racing League Series: Indianapolis 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indianapolis 500

Indy Racing League Series: Indianapolis 500

Alex Barron
Larry Blair
Tom Gloy
May 26, 2002


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

MODERATOR: We have some very distinguished people. Car owner Larry Blair, picked up their Rayovac sponsorship at Nazareth and they have done their sponsors proud. Tom Gloy, who has an outstanding career as a racer here at Indianapolis, but also the Trans-Am series and a variety of other places. He was a former Toyota Atlantics champion, who has been a rookie this year and he has had some outstanding runs and this one only adds to that. Alex, I think a lot of us who have watched you, the talent is obvious and congratulations on a fine, fine fourth place finish. Going back, you had a fast car during the early month of May and unfortunate wall contact, your team fought, clawed and scrapped to get back into qualifying position, and much the same was seen today. Tell us about it.

ALEX BARRON: Absolutely. That just shows what kind of team we have here. Larry and Tom have really put together just an awesome team, and I'm just the fortunate one that gets to actually drive the car. To have Rayovac come on board before Nazareth, we were podium finish there until it rained and then issued sixth, and that brought us a lot of momentum coming in here. We had an incident on Friday that we had backed into the wall there and that was a pretty big hit and we had to get our back-up car out. We got it up to speed fairly quickly, but we did have to work very hard on that. All in all, my first Indy 500 is just a great opportunity to be on a team like this. And the consistency that the team shows, it's all about opportunity, and I definitely feel as though my opportunity is here and I'm just hoping that we can keep progressing through the race season. We had a solid car all race. Our car was very, very well balanced in traffic. We did have one minor problem. I'm very happy for what we accomplished, don't get me wrong, but we could have went for the win for the race. We had a really big issue that happened before the last free start. We had a censor, a map censor, go out on us and the car was surging and we lost a lot of power. And still, to come home fourth, right away, the feelings were like, wow, we could have won this race. But when it's all done, the month that we've had and to finish fourth, to be Rookie of the Year here at the Indy 500 is an awesome feeling.

Q. Larry, you've got an obvious look of pride on your face, if you can tell us about your emotions?

LARRY BLAIR: I can say for Rayovac, Blair Racing, we are enormously proud of Alex, as well as the entire team, and leadership that Tom Gloy, as president of Blair Racing has shown, we had a great race. For me, this is actually my first Indy 500, even as a spectator and here I am as an owner, (laughs), in fourth place, after a great amount of adversity. So it's with great pride on behalf of all the entire fans, family and team members that I congratulate Alex and Tom. It's just an enormously great achievement, thank you.

Q. Alex, if you could talk a little about what your initial plan was with this race in terms of how did you really plan on being there at the end; what did you have to do?

ALEX BARRON: To be honest with you, the whole month, people have been telling me to be patient. The thing is, I've been racing long enough to I know when the speeds are this high, you can only be so patient. So starting in the 26th position, I knew the leaders were going to come around very quickly, and they did, but we kept moving forward more and more and more and fortunately it worked out in our benefit. You know, we know we wanted to have solid pit stops and we did, and that was a key to where we ended up at the end, obviously. We had an awesome pit strategy. The balance of the call car was very, very good all race and the guys did just a great job. It was just really comfortable the whole race in traffic, even by myself. Like I said, without that censor problem, I really felt we could actually gave Helio a little run for his money.

Q. What's your take on the finish? What were you able to see as far as Tracy and Helio?

ALEX BARRON: Actually, I saw the dust that Eddie was throwing up as he almost ran me into the front wall and down the front straight. (Laughs). I got a run off him coming off of 4, and he pinched me pretty tight. I was up on the concrete before the wall coming down the front straight. He squeezed me there pretty tight, but fortunately there was enough room and we squeezed through. That was a very close moment. I was kind of just watching what we were doing there, and by then, I knew that only one lap left and yellow came out and we just ran out of time. But even then our speed started to come back to us because the censor started to get a little bit better at end of the race, but it really just killed us on the last restart.

Q. A lot of talk about lack of American drivers in generically Indy car racing, and so your performance is one in the eyes of the critics of American drivers, isn't it?

ALEX BARRON: I get asked that question quite a bit. I've been to Europe and I've raced in the world championships in carting, and I know how the Europeans, South Africans, how they do their racing there. They are very focused on what they do. But for me, the way I look at it, we all have the same amount of hands, same amount of feet and it's all about opportunity. Unfortunately, the opportunities don't come a lot here in the U.S. I think that I've been waiting a long time to get this kind of opportunity, and today it showed; that if the car is good, if the car can show the speed, then I'm able to do that. I've raced with a lot of these guys who participate in the Indy 500, in Champ Car, and I know what the level is. And I knew there, even when we ran the Australian Fontana last year with Larry, we were competitive there, and it's just about the opportunity, the machine that you are driving.

Q. You started at the season without a sponsor, then Rayovac came on at the Nazareth Speedway. How did this team change from the beginning of the season, after that, after Rayovac came on? And if you go back and think, do you think if you go back to the first race at Homestead, do you believe that you would be here today?

ALEX BARRON: You know, that's a tough question to answer. The truth to that is, the team came together fairly late. To be where we are at right now is just a huge achievement. But at the start of the season we were behind a little bit on development, motor-wise, McLerran (ph), they were kind of on the ball. They were working really hard, but they just didn't have a lot of time to develop a lot of things. At Nazareth they made a big stride towards moving forward, in qualifying we were really impressed with that engine, and one thing that McLerran always worked on is reliability, and we have had a ton of that this year so far.

Q. You've had experience here at Indianapolis and obviously had a driver who went through the ups and downs of the month of May. Talk about your relationship with Alex and what advice you might have given him along the way?

TOM GLOY: I think Alex has so much experience that it's hard to give him much advice. I would just tell you that I don't think I've seen a young man with his abilities and his sensations and the feedback that he gives. It's a wonderful situation for our race team, the way he drove today was incredible. Some people I think tried to intimidate him. There was not any intimidation going on, that's for sure. The one thing that Alex doesn't really completely understand is that he really almost did win this race, not based on anything other than the fact that if Scheckter had not hit the wall, we were the only team that could go to the end. And when Scheckter hit the wall that, put us into a situation where we were all packed up. But the key there was that we were just in the right spot at the right time, and that that's really what Alex did for us. It's a great thing.

Q. How would you guys gauge the quality of the race? It looked like the whole day, except for the early part when Junqueira and stages where Scheckter was driving away, the rest of the field looked like it was some pretty good racing?

ALEX BARRON: To be honest with you, right before the race we were looking at newspapers all month, and we put the newspaper down on the engineering desk and we said: We need to be careful of this guy that guy, this guy, that guy, because there's a lot of aggressive people in the field this year. What I mean is they are very aggressive and very intense on what they are doing out there. To be honest, I expected more yellows today. I thought there was going to be a lot of people taking more risk, but I think Brian Barnhardt (ph) at the drivers meeting really humbled everybody and there was not quite as many yellows as we thought.

Q. (Inaudible )?

ALEX BARRON: Well, focus on the race, that's the easy part. But trust me the guys, the whole team, the Rayovac, Larry, Tom, myself, we'll definitely be ready to party tonight.

Q. It was an unusual start to this race. You're a rookie, I'm guessing you've seen this race start before. Can you just talk a little bit about what it was like this time?

ALEX BARRON: Well, when the race started, I was wondering if I had enough tears off on my helmet because the cars were five abreast going into turn 3 and turn 1, and with the rain coming down -- I hear it washes when it rains. It washes the sand across the track, and when you get everybody low and high, there's just sand and grit everywhere and it dirties up your visor pretty quick and sandblasts everything. There was a lot of stuff going on and I knew it was going to be like that. I thought everybody for the most part really kept their head on and made safe moves and good moves. Once everything started to get panned out, then you're adjusting your car because you don't really know how it's going to act as the day was different than any other day we've been here. It was nice to see really nice weather on race day. But because of that, we didn't really know where the balance was going to be. You just kind of settle out and get your position going and overtake when you can, but you're just trying to find out where your car is going to be at for 500 miles.

Q. Was it unusual?

ALEX BARRON: On the first start? At the drivers meeting they were going to say they were going to try to get all 11 rows through turn 4 before they gave a start, but that's hard to do. There's a lot of guys out there that were trying to charge right away, and the way the leaders punched off, which is normal, a lot of the guys were held up in 3 and 4. But we all knew that was going to happen. That played a big part in the positions going into turn 1, but every race I've ever been in has been like that. That's just the realism of the first start of the race.

Q. Would you be acceptable of Co-Rookie of the Year or do you believe that it's all yours, of the 500? You're the highest finishing guy, but Scheckter had more laps?

ALEX BARRON: I don't know the logistics, all that. The Indy 500, there's so many things that happen, they are a little bit different than other races. I don't even know how to answer that at this time.

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