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Champ Car Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Champ Car

Champ Car Media Conference

Paul Gentilozzi
Alex Tagliani
January 17, 2003


MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I appreciate the media coming out today. I apologize or the slight delay. Welcome tothe Champ Car World Series teleconference presented by Worldcom. We have a very special announcement today, a new driver announcement for the 2003 Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford Season. Right now we would like to welcome to the call the owner of Rocket Sports racing, Mr. Paul Gentilozzi. Paul, thank you for joining us today.

PAUL GENTILOZZI: Thank you. This is the first time in my life I have had the opportunity to announce a driver for Rocket Sports, other than someone I was related to. And it is -- this is the toughest decision in all of my motor sports career because I am choosing someone that will represent us and compete in the same style and spirit that we are used to competing with, and there are a lot of great drivers out there that we have had a chance to work with and talk to, and our selection of Alex Tagliani to drive for Rocket Sports and Johnson Controls is something we are very, very proud of.

Q. Absolutely. We know that was a hard choice and something you agonized over for quite some time and congratulations, we would like to welcome to the call Mr. Alex Tagliani. Alex, welcome to the call.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Thank you.

Q. Alex will be entering his fourth season as champ car competition, last year coming off his best season of his previous three years, finished eighth in the championship and established his personal best with 111 points scored, finished in 15 of the 19 events last year, the second highest total in the series, and scored a pair of runner-up finishes and led a career of 115 laps. Again, Alex, congratulations, and you want to start off and tell us your thoughts on announcing this ride today.

ALEX TAGLIANI: I am very excited, first of all, because there is a little story that I have that I am saying about every time I talk to people about Paul is I met him in Las Vegas, we had our first meeting there, and it was the first time I had the chance to talk with the team owner about shocks, about springs, ride-outs, and I was very impressed and it was a very special feeling to be able to talk about cars with the team owner that you know was going to be the one to make the call for you to get into the car, and I was in the shop yesterday to mold the heat, and I saw him coming into the shop once a day, and everybody is really happy to see him every time he comes in, and he is really close to the guys so that's something really important to me, and the atmosphere of the team is going to be a lot better in that perspective, and I think Paul is coming into the series not just for having an Indy car team, having a very strong team, very strong package, very good drive, and it's going to take a little bit of time for sure to get everybody rolling and try to get a good relation as soon as possible, but all the tools are there, and we have for sure the potential to be very strong this season, and I am very excited to be able to race for Rocket Sports and for Mr. Gentilozzi.

Q. Paul Gentilozzi is one of the legendary drivers and owners of the Trans Am series, having won three series championships and setting series career records for starts, podium, last leg, top five finishes, among a host of others, too about change and starting new ventures, having won each of his three championships in three differently marks, winning in a Corvette, a Ford Mustang Cobra, and Jaguar XKR. Paul, talk a little bit about what you wanted in starting this team. Obviously, it was key to have a little experience, but what led you to choose Alex?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I have actually been watching Alex race for a long time, not only in champ car, but also (inaudible) and he probably doesn't remember, but I can remember standing at the wall when he was driving in the player's car in Atlantic, and they had had a bad race, and Alex was not in the lead, and I think was certainly the fastest guy on the racetrack that day, but as I watched him come back through the field, I admired very much the fact that he knew he couldn't win the race that day, but it was important to be the fastest car on the racetrack, and it's that kind of spirit that shows the driver who wants to win, and I firmly believe -- I believe with everything that he is a winner and he is going to win the champ car and he's going to win with Rocket Sports.

Q. Again, congratulations to both of you. We have a very large media contingent. Question for Mr. Gentilozzi. It's easy to build a team so I want to know, how is your organization so far? Did you recruit all the people you need to start the season right now.

PAUL GENTILOZZI: Yes, that has been the biggest obstacle. Buying cars and equipment and computers and engines, all of those things, of course, take time and planning, but the critical ingredient is people. And we started off, the first person I hired was Phil Howard, who is the team manager, and Phil has really been a leader in helping us attract people. One of the difficulties is our shop is based in Michigan, and most of the teams are based in Indianapolis, so we had to convince the right people to come to work with us and to move their homes to another city, but we have accomplished that and I think we have a wonderful group of people.

Q. Can you tell us about Alex's engineer?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: Alex's engineer is actually someone who knew him quite well and very positive about Alex joining us. Andy Bjorn, who came to us from Penske, knew Alex back from Atlantic where he was the engineer for Lee Bassett, but he has been the engineer for (inaudible) for the last four years.

Q. And what did he tell you about Alex when you told them that you wanted Alex on your team?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: He told me that he was the guy that would win races in CART. That really was -- Andy was -- when he was interviewing Andy he said first to me, "Who is your driver?" And I said, "Well, I don't know yet, I have a list of three or four people that I am dealing with," and I gave him the list and he said "I want this guy." So that made a big part of my decision.

Q. And I have just one question for Alex, you are getting married tomorrow. Are you bit nervous?

ALEX TAGLIANI: No, no, I am not nervous anymore. My nervousness was more to meet the guys on the team. I know Bronte for a long time now, it's just going to be a commitment for life, so it doesn't make me nervous at all, that's what I want to do, but yesterday I was a little bit more nervous when I met the guys and I was excited when I left. For me it's going to be a challenge, but I am sure that I felt like home when I was in the shop yesterday and the guys are fantastic, so that was my excitement of the day yesterday.

Q. Talking about commitment, how long will be your relationship with Rocket Sports? Your contract will go until which year?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Right now I have one year left on my contract and Paul is going to use that year -- I have one-year option with players, and the reason that we were doing that only on one year is that for sure we don't know each other yet, but it's always good to have an opening if something happens. If everything goes the way it should go, then I would like to stay, and I hope that Paul will keep me on his team.

Q. Thank you. Congratulations to the pair of you, and great wedding present for you, Tag. I wonder if both of you could just talk a little bit about the process that went through this and, also, if players are involved at all, they were going to be at one point, if you could talk about it, Tag, a little bit, and then Paul could do the same thing in that regard, just the process of the deal coming together and players involved and any other sponsorship in that way.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yes, for sure. I am under contract with players and they needed to be involved because they were going to let my contract go to somebody else, so they were involved for that, and for the rest of their involvement for the season with Paul I don't know all the details. I would prefer to leave to Paul answer that. And I also have a personal sponsor that is going to be on board with us and they are actually meeting Paul today, so for the rest of the details, Paul could probably answer those questions a little bit better than me.

PAUL GENTILOZZI: There will be an associate relationship with players and with Suputo [ph], a Montreal-based company, and they will both be doing press announcements as we go through the day, we are still negotiating the details, but I think they will be certainly an integral part of what we are doing, along with Johnson Controls, our primary sponsor.

Q. Paul, when will you actually start running? And will you be at Laguna? And, obviously, you will be at spring training?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: We will be at Laguna next week.

Q. You will start running there?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: Yes, if we can get it started, we will have one there.

Q. Best of luck. Paul, you mentioned you made a choice between a couple of drivers. Who were the others.

PAUL GENTILOZZI: These are old girlfriends, we never talk about old girlfriends. We did talk to several drivers, both drivers with a history in CART and other drivers around the world, but Alex -- what's important here is Alex was the first driver I talked to, and it's very difficult when you have been a driver as long as I had, to give up that power and authority on the team and to hire someone, so I talked to Alex first, then I talked to several other drivers and came back to Alex because he was really our first choice.

Q. You feel at ease with this one-year contract and do you expect to have a second car in sometime?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I am not anxious to -- I don't feel I have to have a second car. I am still learning to walk here, and I think it's very important for us to do the best job, and I need to win races and produce. The rest of it will come as it comes. It's no big deal to me.

Q. Good afternoon, Eric, and good afternoon to Paul and Tag and congratulations to the both of you. I guess my question to Tag is: Your world this year will be very much different than it has been in the first years of your champ car career where you were sort of, as the driver, sort of the junior member of a two-car team initially, and it was an established team, you know, here you are coming in as the lead, and only driver in a one-car operation, and although it's an operation that's been in existence for quite some time, is new to champ car racing, and I wondered if you could perhaps talk a little bit about the different role -- the different role and the different responsibilities you will have this year as opposed to in the past.

ALEX TAGLIANI: This is the excitement for me. When I saw the way the team was getting placed, I saw that I was going to be part of something that is getting built, and it's really exciting, and for sure I always have those expectations that I want to be on the podium and I want to finish in the top five as much as I can, but, you know, we need to walk first, like Paul was saying before, and with all the guys that we have in place, I have the feeling that we have everything -- all the tools that we need to be competitive, and then it's going to be the time for us to start and go testing and put the parts that we want on the car and decide what we want to run, and then start testing to try to go fast, and all this persistence is a challenge, but is, at the same time, exciting, and I feel that I have good experience in CART, and I believe in my abilities to drive a car fast, but now is going to be the time to spend the time with the crew, engineers, the staff of the Rocket Sports racing team, and make sure that we put things together in place at the right order to be competitive as quick as we can.

Q. If I might take one follow-up, I know that certainly in your childhood and adolescence you came from sort of a family where there was very much kind of a hands-on involvement in auto racing, and in some regards your comments before about Paul reflect kind of in some ways the same thing, and a team owner that you can talk to about shocks and ride hards and all of that.

ALEX TAGLIANI: It was fantastic. It's difficult to explain because when you get at a certain stage of your career you would like to race for the best team ever and win every race, but you need a lot of different teams and you need a lot of different drivers out there to make a series, and my career is going to go this direction now, and I am willing to take the big step and try to create something with this team for a long period of time. And when I was at the shop yesterday I felt like I was back at the shop with my dad and working on my own go-cart, and the guys were impressed because I was working on my own seat, I was cutting stuff, and they were looking at me and some of the guys work with other famous drivers, and they said, this is a big premier for us, we are not used to that, and I think it's something that is going to create in between all the guys on the team that is going to be good, and I really hope that we are going to be able to have a good success and be there for a long time.

Q. Thank you very much, appreciate it, and congratulations on the announcement and tomorrow's marriage.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Thank you.

Q. Good afternoon, Alex.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Good afternoon.

Q. Granted, several months ago, this was when word started to leak out about your discussions with Rocket Sports, you did voice some apprehension about -- I don't think anybody was hired except for Paul, himself. What's really changed your mind and your approach?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, the first time I talked with Paul about the future was when I was in Vegas and he had nothing, you know, like he wanted to be in CART but there was nothing there, and in a short period of time he put a team together and, you know, people is always the toughest thing to put together, like he said before, and he bought the cars and he is building a new shop for his new team, so it's a lot of work, but from the time we talked until today there is something that is in place that for me, it's very attractive, and I was really hoping when I was seeing all this thing getting built around Rocket Sports that he was going to -- I was going to get a call from him and I was going to get the ride because I didn't want to let the opportunity go by, and there is also something very interesting, I have been racing in CART three years, I was lead racer, and I never once for a reason or another, always something up, ended up racing, so the best coach I can have right now is Paul because he won everything, he won championship, and I feel comfortable that maybe having him around, it's going to give that push that I need to finally win that first race.

Q. One follow-up. You mentioned -- it sounds like you really feel that this is a team, you know, everybody pulling in one direction. Is that -- can you compare that to the atmosphere that team players experienced over the last couple years?

ALEX TAGLIANI: It's very difficult, you know. To explain some of the details is I was going into the hotel the other night and I was very sick and Paul just said, "Okay, wait for me here, I am going to go and pick up some medicine," and he walked away and went to the pharmacy and got me some medicine. It's bad to say, but I don't think Jerry Forsythe [ph] ever did that to me, and it's something that shows his personality and how close he is to his driver and how close he is to his crew, and I think it's something that it's nice to feel, and all the guys that are hired from Paul now, they want to work for him, and at the same time, he took a lot of time to hire them, but they are probably the best that he thinks to do the job, and for a driver, it's a good feeling to start a season like that, and it makes me feel that we have the tools to be competitive.

Q. Well, you are the rocket man now, eh?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah.

Q. Congratulations and best wishes to you tomorrow. You guys are going to have -- it's going to be beautiful, I am sure. Where are you getting married?

ALEX TAGLIANI: In Montreal.

Q. Good stuff. Congratulations. Thank you very much. Alex, congratulations. A huge week for you and, of course, Paul, will comment. Alex, I just wonder how the uncertainty over the second half of the season, particularly through the last couple months, affected your off-season, and now your preparation for the 2003 season.

ALEX TAGLIANI: It was difficult because I was hearing a lot of rumors, and nothing for sure, and people were trying to reassure me, and then bam, you know, and four races to go, pretty late into the season, I have to turn around and try to get a ride, so it was difficult, but I think all those little problems and little steps that you have to go through in your life or in your career are just going to make me stronger, and now that's done, I am going to race for Rocket Sports, and all the pressure is done, and we are just going to put some other pressure on ourselves to be competitive as quick as we can.

Q. I wonder if I can follow up by asking: Everybody is going to be in a similar position this year with the same engine with a different chassis. As a driver, where are you going to look for your advantage this year? How can you be quicker than the rest?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, I never drive the (inaudible) I don't know what to expect, but I am a guy that is able to get used to cars pretty quick, and I don't think it's going to be as worse as when I went from Atlantic to (inaudible), so it's going to be try to feel what the car needs to go fast and get to know my engineer and show him what I want to drive the car, and he needs to understand what I like and to see how it works, and it's going to take a little bit of time but we are ready, we have everything in place to be competitive, we just need to put like all the ingredients and make sure we have a good recipe at the end, but we are up for the challenge.

Q. That's great. I look forward to seeing both of you down in Florida in a couple weeks. (Speaking French).

ALEX TAGLIANI: Do you want me to answer in English? (French).

Q. (French)?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Not really. I was invited for the 24 hours of the (inaudible), I was there and I met him for five minutes and we talk and I heard that he was going to be involved in CART, but I didn't even know that he was going to buy an exciting team, so we never start negotiating for nothing.

Q. (French). Hi, Alex. I am just joining this conference late, so you may already have answered this. The fact that there is going to be a lot of new drivers in there, and even though this is your fourth year in the series, do you feel like the veteran that you are now? You are even more of a veteran considering the number of veteran drivers who have left, and will that give you an advantage, do you think, even though ordinarily you wouldn't be looked on as a real veteran, but compared to all the new drivers coming in, you are?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, I mean, last year, three years in CART was still a rookie when you were around guys like Jimmy, Tracy, Michael Andretti, but now there is going to be a lot of rookies in the series, and I am pretty sure knowing the track is an advantage, but one year of professional race car driver, you don't need five days to learn a racetrack, so I think guys that are going to race this year, they are really fast and strong, and they are going to be able to learn the track really quickly, but for the fine tuning and the preparation with the engineer of approaching this kind of racetrack and having to work with an engineer that was already there and set up a car for those types of track and you -- the input and working together to go there as fast as possible, and get the car out of the trailer, you know, quick, I think that's where the advantage is, but for the rest I think expected a season that's going to be pretty competitive.

Q. Maybe you or Eric can answer this question. How many drivers now are in the series with your announcement today, and how many cars now have been confirmed for the series?

ALEX TAGLIANI: I will let Eric answer that.

SPEAKER: I believe as of today this is the 16th driver that's been announced. We have a contract in the works. The 18 cars that Chris promised for the year is pretty much a lock and we can expect to see probably 20 at the season opener, and possibly as many as 22 at some of our events this year.

Q. I guess one more question here for Alex, and maybe you have already answered this as well. The fact that you were bumped from the Players by Tracy, was that just business as far as you were concerned, or do you have any sort of bitterness or animosity toward the team or Paul?

ALEX TAGLIANI: No, not really. I am a guy that respects opinions of people, and I think I consider their decision as an opinion, and I respect the change that they want to do, but the only thing that was a little bit hard for me is I would have liked to know a little bit earlier and work as a guy, a driver that is looking for a ride for next year, but during the season I was saying to everybody that I was going to be set for 2003, and suddenly four races to go I am looking for a ride, and that's the situation I didn't like to be in, but for the rest I think it's an opinion and I respect people's opinion.

Q. Thank you, Alex. Congratulations. Mr. Tagliani and Gentilozzi, I know Alex since a long time, I know how strong he is, strong character and hates to lose, killer instinct, and Mr. Gentilozzi is pretty much the same. What kind of relationship were you expecting? Alex was talking kind of a father/son relationship when you got some medicine for him, but I know that you are very strong competitors, and what kind of relationship are you expecting from both of you?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: Well, I expect it's one of respect, quite honestly. We want the same thing, and being on a race team is a lot like being with your family. There are times when you disagree, and you may disagree with a lot of emotion, but you also understand that you are on the same family and you want the same thing, and that's how we have always raced at Rocket Sports, and I expect that there are times when Alex and I disagree about what we do and whether what decision we make or how he drives, but that's okay, we do that together, and in the end everything we do is with the same objective, so I respect very much his ability, and I hope he comes to respect what we do as a team. I am sure he will, and we are going to make that into a winning situation.

Q. And how would you describe yourself as a boss now because you used to drive (inaudible)?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I think, and I have told a great many people, that I have seen many things in Alex as a driver that I saw in myself as I look back, a desire to achieve and to win, and I hope now that as I have gotten older that that age has given me the advantage of some knowledge, and that's really what I want to do is share (inaudible) and for a guy that leaps as many facts and sets (inaudible) time to win. Sometimes it just takes the right ingredients to make that happen.

Q. Will you be a tough boss?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I am a tough boss just like I am a little bit of a tough father. Being a boss is not much different than being a father. There are days when you have to reassure your sons and your driver, and days when you might have to kick some ass.

ALEX TAGLIANI: I am the same thing, I got a pretty good guy for my boss, so I am prepared to have a good relationship with Paul, and I am sure if we qualify up front he is not going to make me start last like my dad would have, so that's an advantage. No, but I think for me I have a side that is very human. I am emotional, and I really take the time to see the character and the person the way they are, and Paul is very impressive as a person and he makes me feel very comfortable, and I feel that I am in a position where I am part of something, we are building something together and I am glad that he decided to have me to drive his team, and my job is going to be to represent Johnson Control and the associate sponsor that we are going to do the best we can and work really hard, and the time that I am going to spend in the truck or at the shop or whatever to make this team go fast, I don't care. I am prepared for anything. And he is willing to have me do that, so that's why I feel comfortable and I am excited for the season.

Q. Enjoy the season and your day tomorrow.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Thanks.

Q. The temperament of Mr. Gentilozzi may not be very well known. He was a hockey player at Michigan State University quite a few pucks ago, and for those of you that have dealt with hockey players in the past, that might give you a little better insight what you and Alex are getting into, here. Since you brought it up, Paul, what position did you play at Michigan State?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I was mostly in the penalty box. I was a defenseman.

Q. Okay. And Alex, I was unaware you are getting married tomorrow. Can you tell me the name of your fiance?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Bronte.

Q. B-R-O-N-T-E?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yes.

Q. That's her first name. After tomorrow it will probably with Tagliani, but what is it now?

ALEX TAGLIANI: T-O-K.

Q. With racing is it realistic for you to be on the podium this year with a first-year team?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Oh, yeah, it is, it's a first-year team, but there are a lot of people that have CART experience, they work in CART team previously, and the engineer that is going to work for the team was working for the last four years at Penske, so a great deal of experience there, and we have the tools, the equipment, we have cars, everything is competitive, we have to work a little bit and find out the setup to go fast. Everybody is going to be on the same engine. Without the traction control I think it's going to make for interesting racing. There is going to be a lot of things that happen in a race and everything is open at this time. I don't think we are right now the top team in CART because we don't have any base. We are going to have to find those base but we have everything to find them, and as soon as we can put our finger on a good set-up and everything we that need, the ingredients to be competitive, we are going to remain competitive very consistently.

Q. Thank you. Let's go ahead and open this up to a second round of questioning from the media. Hi guys. I was on the first round. I have no idea why I was passed over, however, good to talk to you guys, however this is going to be one exciting team to watch. Congratulations to both of you. Paul, what made you decide to go open wheel as opposed to something with fenders? I thought you might do something with (inaudible).

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I really think that our background in sports car racing put us a lot (inaudible) to champ car, and when you have been a Trans Am team, we were sport race for CART really for the last 20 years, as long as CART has been in existence and you look over the fence at the big guys and you come to admire the Roger Chemskis [ph] and Fitzpatricks, they are really, as team owners, the role models, and we felt best adapted at being that kind of team.

Q. Follow-up. They are making a big deal about this is going to be one of the best funded teams in CART. What do they mean by that?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I guess they thought -- I had money until I started doing this. The best way to make a small fortune is to start out with a big one and go racing.

Q. Congratulations to you, too, Alex, and we will look forward to seeing you down the line. Just a little bit sort of off the subject to both of you, actually. Yesterday CART announced, and Cleveland announced, that that race is going to be under the lights this year, and I wondered -- obviously, Paul, you have experience racing at Cleveland in the daylight, and obviously, Alex, you do, too, and I just wondered if both of you could share your thoughts about that announcement and just about kind of -- what you expect this July at Cleveland.

PAUL GENTILOZZI: Well, I guess I will go first. Cleveland is a great city full of people who love racing and CART's decision to race at night, I think, is really exciting. That riverfront area and the area on the lakefront is full of restaurants and hotels and people and we need to make this race an event, not just a race, and I think CART's staff has done that. I think from Alex's perspective Cleveland is a much more challenging racetrack than people give it credit, it's a simple one to learn but a hard one to go fast on because of the bumps and identity. Having done a lot of Sebrings and LeMans I know what racing at night is like and I think this is going to be exciting.

Q. And, Alex, I guess a more specific question is: One of the things that we always hear from drivers at Cleveland is one of the challenges there is that the runways are so wide and generally featureless, you know, that it's sometimes not so much hard to get your bearings but there aren't the reference points that you are used to on most natural terrain and street circuits, and obviously this is going to be another wrinke into it. Obviously it's going to be light enough and it's going to be a little different than it was and I just wonder what you, kind of, will expect there.

ALEX TAGLIANI: I think that -- you know, I always said that CART needs to do some stuff for increasing the excitement in racing, and if that's a solution for them, I think it's going to be fun because especially that city, like Paul was saying, there is a lot of things that's going on at nighttime so I think the race in Cleveland will become more than the race, it will become an activity, it will become some excitement for the team, entertainment for everybody, so hopefully you will have even more success and, technically, as a driver, Cleveland is very difficult because there is no reference points. There is some places where it's very difficult to see where you have to turn in and things like that. When you are in a (Inaudible) so your vision is even worse on that type of track, and at nighttime we don't know yet what's going to be the reflection of the lights, how much lighting we are going to have, so all things that is difficult to answer, but for sure the show is going to be fantastic and we have some backfire into the exhaust, it's going to be even more so. I think the fans are going to enjoy open road racing at nighttime.

Q. Okay. Thanks again and congratulations to both of you. My first question is, Paul, over the winter, right before Christmas, I bought a new car, and about the third day I bought it my 18-year old daughter took it out for a drive, and it was the longest three hours I ever spent in my life. That car is probably pennies compared to your investment. That first race, how is it going to feel to have someone else drive your car?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: I am glad you brought that up because that's a hard thing to do. I had a little taste of it the last race in the Trans Am season was a VIR and I crashed and broke my ribs in practice, and I started the race, and after about seven or eight laps I couldn't drive anymore because of the pain, so I put Jack Willis in and that was the first time I had ever watched someone drive my car. And I have kind of gotten over the hump. The good thing is I have got a lot of faith in Alex. And I am comfortable now, I talked to Remal [ph] about this at some length, how do you quit driving and just focus on owning. And it's not an easy thing to do because you have anxiety, you have desire. I will get over it, though. I never had any desire to drive champ cars and so I am going to be really comfortable, I think, after a few minutes having Alex be my guy.

Q. Alex, as you worked with this team and you have talked about the fact that Paul's ability to bench race with you, so to speak, were there other things that you saw within this team that -- because, quite frankly, the pressure was for you to find something that fit well, and it wasn't like you had to have a job to earn your keep for next season, so you were the choice of the litter.

ALEX TAGLIANI: No, I think Paul made the decision, and I am glad and I feel fortunate that I am going to be driving for Rocket Sports racing next year, but for the team, it's a new team that is getting started, but Paul worked really hard to put all the team together, and really good people together, and I don't think he is going into champ cars just to have a champ car team and be seen as an owner. I think he is going there to be successful and I am ready to work really hard to be successful in this team, so it's exciting and the team is going to be based in Lansing, Michigan, so away from all the other teams, so we are going to be focused and concentrate on the work we need to do to be able to get out of 2003 with some good results.

Q. Interesting comment that you made. He is going to be an owner but not an owner just to be a champ car owner. Have you seen a lot of owners that use that almost as an ownership role as an ego trip? And you laughed there.

PAUL GENTILOZZI: Paul it's a social activity. We have a motto at our team about going racing, and it says we are not here to make friends, we can afford to bring our own, and I think it's easy to get caught up in the culture of just owning a team, and that's not the objective at all. It's about competition. That's what we thrive on. And I can park my motor home in the parking lot and set up a little grill and have a picnic. I don't need to do that.

Q. And apparently, Alex, you like that concept?

ALEX TAGLIANI: That's something that Paul has for him and I think it's what makes him who he is, and I think other guys that are, working for him, they like his attitude and that's why maybe they work really hard for him and what he is trying to build here can be very special and very different from any other team and I am sure that it's not going to take ten years for this team to win the championship.

Q. Thank you, gentlemen. Good luck.

ALEX TAGLIANI: I am going to have to go pretty soon because I am going to be late and my wife is going to kill me. We have to get a wedding certificate. I am an hour away from there.

Q. I understand. Last question. And we will wrap this up. My question actually is for Paul so thanks, Alex, you can go. Paul, I have going to ask you, you had mentioned Alex's qualities as a driver, but from what we understand, players, because of the situation with Paul Tracy, they had Alex under contract and were trying to find a ride for him. Now, does that make him even more attractive to you? Because, from what we understand, rather than being a portion of his salary or all of his salary, so you not only get a talented driver but you get a little bit of a kick there with somebody helping with the funding of the team?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: That absolutely was not it. It's funny because several people have written that, and obviously they don't know me. That wasn't a part of our consideration. I needed a guy that -- first of all, there are a lot of talented drivers around the CART series that can do a job and can do the job, but I needed a guy I could share with philosophically. We didn't come into this looking for a driver whose salary was paid, we talked to a lot of drivers (inaudible) and we talked to a lot of drivers (inaudible). That's a function of motor sports today, but that's an insult to Alex. I mean, he is a driver that could drive for anybody, and so we went after this and we made our decision based on his ability. When you got a bunch of -- let's assume your budget is 6 and a half or $7 million, you are sure not going to worry about a few hundred thousand dollars in regards to his performance.

Q. But are his players in some ways subsidizing him?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: He is an associate sponsor of the team.

Q. But you basically are just saying, then, for people to assume that he is there because Players is kicking in a bunch of money, that's totally wrong?

PAUL GENTILOZZI: That's baloney and it's insulting.

MODERATOR: Thanks for calling. I appreciate everybody coming out and joining us. Again, Mr. Gentilozzi, congratulations and we look forward to seeing you and getting fired up on the 2003 season.



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