Grand-Am Road Racing Media Conference
Topics: Grand-Am Road Racing
January 18, 2012
J.J. O'MALLEY: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this Grand‑Am teleconference as we get ready for the most anticipated road race in North American sports car history, the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. Today we visit with two of the greatest drivers in the history of the event, Hurley Haywood, the only five‑time winner, and Scott Pruett, the lone active four‑time winner and a nine‑time class winner. Hurley will mark a personal milestone with his 40th career Rolex 24 start.
Hurley, I remember not long ago you say that it wouldn't be right having the 50th Rolex 24 without a 59 Brumos Porsche with the name Haywood on the door. What are your thoughts returning with the championship‑winning Brumos Porsche for the 50th?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, J.J., I'm excited. It's a stellar field of GT cars. I'm really looking forward to it. The test was good for us. The car worked well. We have a brand new car for the start of the season. So we're going into it with everything nice and fresh, and we've taken all the good stuff out of last year's car.
We're looking good, and as I always say, it's the guy that stays out of the pits just for routine stops is the one that's going to win the race, so we'll see how things go.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Hurley, you might have some company in that select group of one. What's your thoughts on being the only five‑time winner of the Rolex 24?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, I would hate to give up that slot that I hold at the top, but Scott is a couple years younger than I am‑‑ more than a couple years; he's probably ten years younger than I am, and he's certainly very competitive and runs for a great team. Ganassi is strong. So if there's somebody that could win more than me, it certainly would be Scott. He would be a worthy person to take over that mantle from me. But it's 24 hours; a lot can happen. We'll just hope for the best.
J.J. O'MALLEY: You've run this event many times. What are your thoughts on the buzz getting ready for the 50th?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, if the Roar, which was the test before, the pretest, is any indication, I think it's going to be an absolute huge success. The buzz on the street is good. I was up in Detroit for the auto show, and everybody was talking about it. The number of GT cars entered with the list of drivers that are driving them is a stellar cast, as is the DP side of it.
So it's going to be good. You know, the DP count is down a little bit. I think they only have I think 13 or 14 cars, but they're all really good ones. The less DP cars there are, the better it is for the GT cars because they don't have to be constantly looking in the rear view mirrors. But the GT side of it is awesome. I mean, I've never seen that amount of GT cars driven with that stellar group of drivers, and Audi and Ferrari are coming in so it's going to be a real barn burner, and there's going to be no rest. It'll be flat out from the start of the race to the finish.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Scott, you're riding an unprecedented streak of lead‑lap top‑two finishes in the Rolex 24, including three victories. How special would it be to continue that streak in the historic 50th Rolex 24 and join Hurley with a fifth Rolex 24 Daytona Cosmograph?
SCOTT PRUETT: An exciting race for sure. Everybody at the Telmex BMW team is excited. We're unfortunately a bit behind with not taking deliveries of the Riley body work until I think it was December 21st, 22nd. There wasn't much time for testing, and spares are very limited. The guys are flat out at the shop right now. Just talked to them this morning, just putting pieces and parts together, waiting for more body work, more splitters, more pieces to come in from Riley. Certainly not the preparation that we've seen for the last few years with the Ganassi organization and one that we feel like we're a bit behind.
But overall excited about the race, and just like Hurley was saying, I think that when you look at the quality of the teams on the prototype side and on the DP side and the quality of the drivers, it's turned out to be just an incredible show.
Q. Scott, first question is directed at you. In the Telmex Chip Ganassi car, when you guys were at the Roar before the 24, you had some trouble with GT traffic. We know that's always a big issue in the Rolex 24. This year the field is bigger than ever. But my question revolves around how your car was, how the BMW Riley was, around the five new Corvettes out there. As a driver, do you notice a difference in the way your car reacts around those new Corvettes, and what was your impression of those cars as you raced against them for three days in the Roar before the 24?
SCOTT PRUETT: That's a very good question. The cars are definitely different. The body work, the way they're reacting, we were having some troubles with porpoising, where it's difficult to control‑‑ porpoising being as you go down a straight the car kind of slams the ground, just kind of bang, bang, bang, bang, and you definitely notice more when you got around cars, more aerodynamic challenges with it. It seemed like it took more air off the nose and it changed the way the car reacted. So there's a lot that we have to learn.
I am certainly disappointed that we took‑‑ that we weren't able to get the cars until as late as we did, which I think has definitely put us at a disadvantage, and just as we saw at the test, just as we could have got the car going again, there just was no spares. There was nothing. All we had for spares was what was on the car.
I know as we talked earlier, the guys are flat out, doing all the preparation they need and waiting for additional pieces and parts from Riley to arrive so we can be as best prepared as we can going into the race. There was and still is some consideration going on that we might even run our car from last season.
Q. My last question is directed at you, Hurley. So much history, I mean, it's too much to go into, 40 years, and I ask you this question almost every time when you've come back. When do you decide personally and with the team what your contribution is going to be to the team as far as your actual time behind the wheel? Have you talked about that yet? Do you have an idea of when you're going to be behind the wheel?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: I'll probably go in the car somewhere during the nighttime. We'll kind of see the complexity of the race and how it turns out, and I think I'm scheduled to go in on the fourth rotation. So that's at least eight hours into the race.
Usually you can get kind of a pretty good feel for what the pace is going to be. I'm not going to do much driving. I'll do maybe two or three stints. This year the GT field is so competitive, and you know, you've really got to be careful. What makes‑‑ with so many GT cars, some of the teams have up to five drivers driving the cars, so when you think about it, it's hundreds of people, and a lot of those people have never been at Daytona. So every car you come up to is a gamble. You kind of just throw the dice and hope the guy is paying attention.
I think during the Roar we saw a lot of the DP cars get involved with GT cars, and it's just because the GT cars, some of the drivers just really are not used to some of those closing speeds, and it catches the DP guys out. I've driven both cars, and I know exactly how they feel and how we feel, and it's just a matter of being patient. When a 24‑hour race comes, you just simply have to be patient even though the pace is strong and you run flat out. You still, with that number of drivers that are new that you're not used to, you've got to be‑‑ have the utmost of care when you approach cars that you aren't absolutely certain who's driving them.
Q. I have a couple questions here. Hurley, you've been‑‑ this will be your 40th, 24 out of 50. Can you think back to a few races that you still consider to be the benchmark for this race, races that kind of stand out in your mind?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, all the races that I won probably stand out more than the others. But you know, each race presents a different set of problems and a different‑‑ I've driven the race in GT cars, I've driven the race in prototypes, and every one has its own challenges. And just to get through and finish a 24‑hour race is an enormous accomplishment, and usually all the accolades go to the drivers. They're the ones that get all the credit. But when you look at it, it's a real team effort.
The guys I know‑‑ Scott's guys are working flat out, my guys are working flat out to get the car ready. We try to think about every scenario that could happen to have the necessary parts and pieces to fix it. But you just have got to be so careful because if you do‑‑ if you are forced to go into the pits for an unscheduled stop, you just are screwed. You can't catch back up again in this climate; you've got so many competitive cars. Again, you just have to be careful and not hurt the car.
Q. This question is for both of you. Both of you have seen this race and sports car racing in general kind of go through all sorts of different directions here in the last 50 years. Where would you say Grand‑Am is right now, the path that it's‑‑ its current path? Do you think that they're in the direction, or have they caught up to maybe what might have been probably the highlight of the sports cars back in the old EMSA days? Are we close to getting back to that?
SCOTT PRUETT: Yeah, I think so. I mean, Hurley and I have seen a lot of racing over the years at Daytona and have seen some incredible cars. And with that, some of those incredible cars were unbelievably fragile. And for the fans and even for the teams, it was‑‑ you'd win by a lap or two laps or 20 laps. It wasn't‑‑ certainly wasn't what we saw last year. Last year the green flag and white flag flew at the same time, and we had five‑car shootout for the victory. The year before that we had two cars going at it, three cars going at it. The year before that first and second was only separated by seconds. And I think that's incredible.
I don't think any place in racing you see that after a 24‑hour race, and that's what excites the fans, and that's what excites the teams.
I think what we're seeing with the GT class, with the manufacturer involvement, the current manufacturers are there now with what we saw with Audi and Ferrari stepping in, you're seeing massive fields. I think it's certainly the place to be. We're adding another exciting race this year with going back to Indianapolis, which will be kind of our second crown jewel. When you talk to anybody and you mention the word Indy, everybody knows about either the Indy 500, the Brickyard, but most certainly the track.
So all those things are exciting in still some fairly tough economic times that we have here in the U.S., and talking to Joie Chitwood at the track where they have record ticket sales and record support from manufacturers and hospitality is just going crazy, that's all positive stuff. That's all exciting and very positive stuff, and I can just tell you from the BMW side of things, who we're supported by, they stepped up significantly from where they were last year. You see Chevrolet stepped up significantly from where they were last year. And all that is great news, and certainly for the future of the sport.
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Yeah, I think that Scott is absolutely right. I got on the web this morning, turned on my computer, and the headlines was that Peugeot pulled out of the LMP1 series and is not going to race at all in 2012 based on economic conditions in France right now. You know, that super, super expensive type of racing just is so outrageously expensive to compete in that the formulas like Grand‑Am has, both on the DP side and the GT side, make so much more sense for, one, individual teams, and two, manufacturers. So I think the manufacturers are figuring that out, and they're coming to support more reasonably‑priced racing.
Our cars are‑‑ technically they're not dinosaurs. They've got all the bells and whistles on them that the fancy stuff has, but we just control the costs of operation a little bit better than some of the other sanctioning bodies.
Q. Hurley, you've talked for years now about stepping away for good. Does the fact that Scott continues to race and win, does that kind of motivate you to at least get out there for the 24‑hour race and maybe Watkins Glen?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: I wish Scott would stop because then I would be able to stop.
SCOTT PRUETT: (Laughing.)
HURLEY HAYWOOD: I retired from full‑time racing a couple years ago, but Daytona is such a special place. It's in my backyard. When we switched from the DP over to the GT side, I was under a lot of pressure to come back and help the team get through that first race. And then after that race I let our normal drivers, Lee and Andrew, take over. And then this year was the 50th anniversary, so Jim kind of twisted my arm. He said, come on, we need you for one more time, so I said okay.
So it's just an honor for me to still be able to get on the track with these guys and mix it up. You know, I'm not as fast as some of them, but I'm plenty fast for a 24‑hour race, and I certainly have the experience on my side to avoid some of the pitfalls that the other guys will have during the race.
But I can absolutely guarantee you that this is going to be the last one. You've heard that before, but...
Q. Scott, in layman's terms, can you explain the difference between this year's DP and last year's DP?
SCOTT PRUETT: Everything under the skin is virtually the same. The front splitter and the body work, which we call the skin, has completely changed. Grand‑Am, I think driven a lot by Jim France, we've all kind of heard the stories that the DP cars are ugly, they're too boxy, they're too whatever, and so NASCAR and Jim and the whole Grand‑Am association got together and said, hey, let's make these cars look a bit sexier. Let's see what we can do to kind of style them up a little bit.
And that was a big motive in driving the change forward as well as opening up for manufacturers, like we've seen with Corvette, that can put their own style on them and make them look more like a production car. And that's been a big thing. A lot of manufacturers that I've worked with and work around want to race something that has a similar look, at least potentially, to what they sell in the showroom, and the closer that we can get to that, the more we're giving the manufacturers what they're looking for.
And I have to applaud NASCAR and Grand‑Am for doing this, for looking into the future at doing this, and most certainly Chevy with Corvette is the first one that stepped up. I know BMW has taken a serious look at it, kind of seeing how things are going to play out. Ford, I believe they're taking a look at it, as well. So I think it's a good, positive thing and something that's going to give the fans a little bit more understanding and ability to identify with that manufacturer.
Q. And for Hurley, you were talking about the depth of the GT field. What does it mean to race against the Ferrari and the Audi and these different makes rather than basically having a field of just Porsche cars?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, I think it makes everybody a little more pointed in their mission. I think to have the quality of Audi, the‑‑ well, it's not really a factory team, but it's almost a factory team, and the same with Ferrari. Scott Sharp is fielding one team and Reesie is fielding the other team, and that just sharpens the point a little bit. To have those guys in our series, it validates why Porsche is there. Porsche would love to beat Ferrari, they would love to beat Audi. So it makes our job more easier because Porsche now is working hard to give us all the advantages that they possibly can.
It just is good for everybody, and it's good for the fans. The fans have a lot of really cool cars to look at and names that are recognizable driving those cars. So not only can they get enthusiastic about the DP side, they can now get enthusiastic about the GT side, also.
Q. When you get guys that are racing against you that don't race for a living or don't race on a regular basis, do you have to mentally tell yourself when you're coming up on a car that that could be a guy that's not real experienced and be extra careful getting around that car?
SCOTT PRUETT: Every car you come upon you have to think that. That hasn't changed for the years that I've been coming there. And Hurley mentioned that earlier. There's some incredible drivers out there that have just a wealth of experience and accolades for achievement in whatever they've been doing, and there's some guys out there that literally are just holding onto the wheel. I mean, they're just gripping at things so hard, they're only focused forward, and they're really not aware of what's around them.
When you're competing against these guys and racing against these guys head to head, you as a driver have to take it upon yourself that you don't know who's in the car but you'd better plan on it's one of those guys who's not aware. Just like we saw last year, our car‑‑ we made it through 24 hours with not a mark on our car, which was just‑‑ said a lot for all of us just being heads up and being careful and taking our time and just being patient, which is a difficult‑‑ patience and racing really are a difficult combination to go together.
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Yeah, I agree with Scott. Just a little bit‑‑ as the safety nets and all that kind of stuff that we have to have inside the cars, it really limits the amount of visibility you have when you're looking in the window. In days past you'd look in, you'd see somebody's helmet and you'd say, okay, I know who that is. But nowadays you can't really tell who's in the car, so that means that you have to exercise the utmost caution on every car that you come up on, and you can pretty much tell as you're approaching somebody whether they have experience or whether they lack experience. I think that kind of dictates your attitude of whether you're going to take a chance or not. It's a gamble, but Scott said, the reason Ganassi teams are so good is their drivers don't make mistakes, and that's what you need to do in a 24‑hour race is make no mistakes.
Q. Hurley, we've talked about this several times before, when you and Bob Snodgrass sat down and helped design this DP thing. The rules generally of what Grand‑Am has become, there was an idea that you wanted to keep the costs down and manufacturer involvement at a minimum, at least that's what we've talked about in the past. It seems like there's been some budget creep and manufacturer involvement has become more significant in the series. Is there a fine line that you don't want to cross at some point, and are we getting close to that?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, I don't think we're getting close to that line. I think any time that you can entice a manufacturer to come in and get involved in your program, I think that that's good up to a point. As long‑‑ and Grand‑Am does a very good job of dictating their rules that have some concern with the cost of doing it, and I think that that's what Grand‑Am looks at. And if they can get a manufacturer to come in and play on that playground and still be conscious of what it costs to operate that car and what it costs to buy that car, then I think you've got a good program. The manufacturers are the ones that do all the advertising. They have the budgets to do‑‑ to make it better for everybody. So I think that that manufacturer support is good for the sport overall, just as long as costs don't get out of hand.
Q. First question I want to ask is for you, Hurley. Basically a lot of your wins came in a different era. I'm wondering if you can contrast the level of competition, the level of performance of the cars from the early years of your running and what we're seeing now.
HURLEY HAYWOOD: In those early races, I won races in the '70s, '80s and '90s, and all of those races had huge amounts of Porsche cars, 911 based cars, RSRs, those cars, which were just 730‑horsepower monsters out there, and those cars moved over to the prototypes, to the ground effects cars, and each one of those classes had a huge number of cars, and then the last version, the ground effects cars we had Nissan and Jaguar and Toyota, and so costs went out the roof.
Each era or each decade that I've raced in the Daytona field, you had your own set of hurdles that you had to get over, and even though now we're racing‑‑ back to racing a GT car, that GT field is one of the best GT fields I've ever seen, whether you're talking about the GT field at LeMans or whether you're talking about the GT field at Sebring or Daytona, this is one of the best that's ever been produced. It just makes my job harder, but the elements are the same. It's competitive and you're trying to race as hard as you can go and hopefully you're the first one to the checkered flag.
Q. Hurley, regarding the quality of the GT field, I want to talk about the quantity of the GT field and the fact that you're unlimited in terms of space on a racetrack, even one with lots of banking and wide‑open opportunities like Daytona. Are we approaching maybe the point of diminishing returns in terms of numbers of entries where it's just going to get a little bit too congested?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, yeah, remember, back in the late '70s, early '80s, you used to start a field with nearly 80 cars. We're going to start a field of close to 60 cars for this race. So I'm not worried about‑‑ the more cars there are, the better I like it personally. It gives you a challenge and something to kind of take the boredom away.
But I think at Daytona, Daytona is a pretty big track and you've got a lot of banking up there that you can move around. When they resurfaced that banking it really made it a lot easier because the cars didn't have so much side motion to them as they went around the corner so you could basically stay in your line and not have to worry about creeping up to somebody else or getting in somebody else's way trying to get by you. That makes it a lot easier for the drivers. You know, you just try to do your best and stay out of trouble.
Q. We were talking before about the drivers on the track who may be there just because they can afford to be. Is there anything that can be done to weed‑‑ or should these people be weeded out, or is it a traditional?
SCOTT PRUETT: I think I may have some different views depending on who you're talking about. I absolutely believe there needs to be a higher set of standards put in place to make sure the guys going racing are‑‑ have some amount of depth and experience. I know some of these guys personally out there, and I wouldn't‑‑ I don't think that's the place for them to be. They're on the edge of being scared, they're not quite sure what's going on. So from my point of view, I certainly would like to see where there certainly is a better review of the drivers that are going out there, every driver that's going out there and racing.
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Yeah, I totally agree with Scott. I can understand from the financial side why Grand‑Am wants to get as many drivers as they possibly can, but from a safety side and for really the betterment of the racing overall, I think you really have to make a strong case of driver‑‑ of the experience that a driver has. Just because you have a license from whoever doesn't mean that you're qualified to race at the Daytona‑‑ or in Grand‑Am racing. And I think really, you need to set up a panel that looks at these guys, and Mark Raffauf does a pretty good job of monitoring and really sort of quickly weeding out the guys that are really dangerous on the racetrack, and he sets them down, and if they make the same mistake twice in a row, then they're out, they're grounded. They have pretty good eyes up in the tower, but still, I think it would make a lot simpler for everybody if they had a little higher standard of accepting drivers to drive there.
Q. You by your description would prefer Juan Pablo maybe not race in the 24? Does he not have enough experience?
SCOTT PRUETT: (Laughing) Are you just trying to stir things up?
Q. Well, I just remember a certain Mexico City event, and my mind races back to that time and wondered, maybe he didn't have it quite together at that moment. I did hear a talk with Mark Raffauf, by the way, and he said there was a couple of entries that did come in late, and he said he turned them down simply because he said you guys have got to show up, you've got to let everybody know how you work and something along those lines. Maybe that would be better followed up with Raffauf. Hurley, what did you do with last year's car?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Last year's car is sitting in our showroom. That car went over to Porsche for the awards banquet they had over there in the middle of December, and then we got it back while we prepared our new car, so we still have it and we're going to put it in our museum.
Q. Porsche is a very notable mark at the Daytona 24, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It's done its fair share of winning there and competing there as you all know. Strictly looking at it on a Porsche basis, whom do you see as being your greater competitor?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, it's hard to dismiss a lot of the really great other Porsche teams that are out there. TRG is good, Flying Lizards has got a new car driven by all factory drivers. So I think our competition is going to come within‑‑ be pretty strong within the Porsche camp, and then you've got to throw in all the rest of the guys. The Mazdas are going to be strong. Really when you're looking at the race from an overall standpoint, I think the Camaro is going to be really strong, the 88 car is looking good, the 57 car is looking good. So those guys are going to be a threat.
And then of course you've got kind of the unknown element with the Ferrari and the Audi. You really don't have any gauge to see how they would do in the race. If you took their performance in the European races, they're going to be a threat. But we don't know what they're going to be like with some of the restrictions that they have put on those cars.
You know, you just‑‑ it's going to be a real barn burner out there, and a lot of it is‑‑ there's going to be a lot of cars and a lot of competition, so everybody has got to keep that sword sharp.
Q. Scott, I want to go back to a follow‑up on a question that was answered much earlier in this session, and that was the possibility of you guys actually bringing along and utilizing a gen 2 car in the stable if things don't quite work out for both gen 3 cars. Do you have any idea as to whether the guys driving that would be 01 or 02?
SCOTT PRUETT: I would say it would most certainly be the 01 car, and I don't know if a final decision has been made. It does make a lot of sense to run a gen 2. We know the car. The car has been absolutely incredible there over the last four years. You know, as far as if there is any issue, we know it, we can change it, we've got spares, everything is set. So there's been a lot of discussion.
I think at this point in time, most certainly Tim Keen and Mike Hull have had discussions about it, but I can tell you there was some very serious‑‑ when I talked to them first part of the week there was some very serious consideration on exactly what we should be doing.
Q. This is for both drivers: I had a question about what is your most memorable or most unusual Rolex, either one that you raced in or one that influenced you and why.
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, I get asked that question a lot, and I would say the first one that I won was probably the most rewarding. That was 1973. And Peter Greg and myself were given a car by Porsche along with Roger Penske for Mark Donahue and George Follmer. Porsche didn't really expect to win that race overall. There were a lot of prototypes in the race. But we soldiered on, the faster cars had problems and we won it. And that race sort of set the stage for my name being recognized on an international basis.
And then we backed that win up with a win at the 12 Hours of Sebring. That was really kind of the start of people starting to get to know Hurley Haywood. Every win is important, but I think that was probably the most important win for me, in my career anyway.
SCOTT PRUETT: That's always a good question. I think that most certainly last year was pretty incredible. I've never been to a 24‑hour race where we had a one‑lap shootout for the win with that many cars. That was just historic. And probably one of my more crazy memories when I was driving with Dyson, and I'm going to say I don't know the exact year, I'm going to say '91, in a 962. Unfortunately Rob had got off track lap 6 and parked it on the right‑hand side on top of a bunker, and we couldn't get‑‑ they couldn't get out there to get the car off the bunker. That was the shortest race I've ever run, six laps in the 24, and that was pretty crazy.
HURLEY HAYWOOD: I remember that race. I won, and I remember going around and going, oh, my God, the Dyson sat in the middle of the park on top of a hill.
SCOTT PRUETT: Yeah, it was a brand new 962, just took delivery and we had a good shot to win the race. You just never know. We were talking about just how careful and how heads up you've got to be, and it just takes something small to put you out.
Q. Scott, I want to follow up with you, a question I asked Hurley earlier, and it seems like it might be an issue with you right now with the changeover to a new car and there's not enough spares and the factories have to build cars and so forth and so on, and you're faced with maybe having to stay with an old car. Are we getting close to the line where people outside of racing may have too much of an influence on what's happening in racing, in Grand‑Am?
SCOTT PRUETT: No, I think because of where Grand‑Am is looking at the future and what they're trying to do, some things just take longer than we all expect. You know, the plan‑‑ I think that both with Chevrolet and with Riley with their new bodies, I think they should have been approved earlier just because it takes a long time to do the bucks and make all the bodies and splitters and all the pieces and parts that go with it, and sometimes I just don't think everybody realizes how much lead time that takes. I mean, it takes a long time.
And so unfortunately the teams are the byproduct of that, and sometimes in the 24‑hour race, it's more‑‑ not about the outright speed because I just don't see giving up a lot of speed with the older body work compared to the new body work. However, there's a lot to be said about having all the pieces and components and spares and stuff that you will look at during a 24‑hour race all set and ready to go instead of completely doing new things.
We're all learning, and we're all learning together. The amount of time sometimes it takes to make these changeovers I think just‑‑ it's just a byproduct of the sport, of almost anything, where it just takes a bit longer than what you expect.
Q. Is there a deadline, a timeline that's approaching for fish or cut bait about the old car?
SCOTT PRUETT: They've had to make a decision‑‑ I have not heard what direction we're going to go as of yet, but it's now, or a couple days ago.
Q. I've got a couple more questions. One, you mentioned something about driver safety and so forth. We've had problems at LeMans with speed differentials. Is that going to be a problem in the Rolex 24 with the GT and the DP cars?
SCOTT PRUETT: If anything, the opposite direction. What we're seeing is the GT cars are becoming so robust and increasing speed. At the same time Grand‑Am has got their finger on the prototypes, making sure that they're slowing them down, so they actually have made some restrictions with the engines going into this race, for Chevy, for Ford, for BMW, to slow them down, restrictions on the body work to add more drag to them to slow them down, and that makes the differential between the prototypes and the GTs not enough.
In fact, we talked to Mark Raffauf about that after the preseason test and felt that‑‑ from a DP side of it when you're trying to make a move on a GT car because they can break so deep because they have virtually the same engines and less drag than we do, they have great straightaway speeds, it could potentially make for some pretty hairy moves during the race. And so there needs to‑‑ I really feel that could be a recipe for disaster, that when you have cars that are too‑‑ a bit too close, it would be tempting for some of the prototype drivers to try to make a move, where instead of being able to make the move and complete it cleanly, now you actually have to take a chance on being a bit more bold and doing it with the chance of some contact.
Q. All drivers want more power and speed, but would you like to see more differential between the DP cars and the GT so that you can move and make passes and get out of the way easier?
SCOTT PRUETT: Without a doubt, and what we've seen in the past seems like it's worked pretty well. I think that differential was about 10 to 12 seconds a lap different between the two, now I think it's down if I'm not mistaken to about seven or eight. There is a real nice sweet spot in there, and I think historically Grand‑Am could go back and look at that where we've had probably the best amount of success with blending those two different divisions together and having it where it puts on a really good show without too much contact.
Q. Scott, let's just follow up on what we're talking about. Along with the rumors or speculation or whatever you want to talk about, in terms of making the cars a little bit more attractive, sexier, less boxy, the other side of the coin has been a little down on power from what you might like to see. Regardless of whether it's with ease taking over GT cars, do you think it would be a good move? And yes, I realize it might add to some cost, but to get another 100, 150 horsepower in the DP cars?
SCOTT PRUETT: I mean, do you want more as a driver? Man, the more horsepower, the more fun.
Q. And for the show.
SCOTT PRUETT: I think for the show we don't need‑‑ we don't have to have another 150 horsepower. I think there's a couple challenges; one, the magic number of 200 miles an hour at Daytona always seems to loom out there, and we're ever very close to that each year, so we want to try and stay just under that with the prototypes.
Also with this new body work has come a lot of restrictions. You can only run a certain wing height, you can only run a certain spoiler height, you've got to run a certain gurney height. You don't have the flexibility to do much with the car, so they're really mandating limitation on what we can do as a team to pick up some more speed and do some different things with the body like we've been able to do in the past.
At the same time, when we touched on that earlier, I think we need to just keep a good, comfortable differential between the two cars. There is a number, and I think historically, like I touched on earlier, we can go back and look at what that differential needs to be because Daytona might be 10 to 12 seconds, at New Jersey it might be seven or eight seconds, we have all the historical history, we can look at the races, we can go back and easily see what that needs to be, and I think there needs to be some focus on that.
Q. Talking about old car, new car, you're talking about the instability aero wise in the package of the new car. Mechanically, however, since it is very similar to the old car underneath the skin, not really too concerned about that?
SCOTT PRUETT: Not at all. I mean, it's virtually identical to‑‑ it is a new chassis. The one we won the championship and the 24 with last year was actually a car we took delivery on in January of '04, so it was mileaged out. So as a team we felt it was time to get a new chassis, which we did. Most everything is bolt on, and that's what does make it somewhat easier, if, in fact a team decides to run last year's car, it's not going to be a major deal to do that changeover if you wanted to, just because we have the parts, everything is prepped, everything is ready to go, and they've already actually prepped the car to do the demonstration that they're going to show off a number of the past cars that have won the Rolex 24 at the race. From that part of it, it's easy.
It's more just having‑‑ it's just been monumental for Riley getting approved so late and getting the body works out so late to be able to gear up to get the teams, all the‑‑ not just the primary body work but all the secondary stuff, which you have to go through as a team and make sure it fits and goes on. There's just a lot of work and preparation that goes into it.
Q. Hurley, I guess this is appropriate on the eve of the 50th anniversary. You drove one of the coolest cars ever back in the day, the 917. Could you talk a little bit about driving? Was it as cool to drive as it was to watch?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, when you look, 917s were difficult cars to drive, and when you take those cars compared to what we drive now, we've got so much technology. I get asked this question a lot. You know, the difference between‑‑ like a 962, which was a ground effects car, we didn't have power steering, we didn't have sequential shifting, we didn't have air‑conditioning, we didn't have drink bottles, we had none of that stuff. So those cars were tremendously physically difficult to drive, and we just did it because we didn't know any better and didn't complain about it.
But when you drive a modern car like a DP car or even a GT car, I mean, those are really cool cars to drive. So it's difficult to say what era of car was more fun. To me, when you‑‑ the bigger the steering wheel and the smaller the tires, the more fun it is to drive, for me anyway. I like a car that moves around a little bit. We all get used to ground effects and high downforce cars, and when I made the switch from DP over to the GT car, I was kind of really put off at the start because the GT car moved around so much.
But after 20 minutes in the car, you kind of get used to it, and then it was kind of fun to drive it. So it just is a different set of parameters that you deal with and you kind of adapt to each style of car.
Q. Scott, we've talked about the race being a sprint. There was a time when a 24‑hour idea was beyond a lot of people's understanding. Do we need to redefine what's an endurance race?
SCOTT PRUETT: Without a doubt. I mean, what we saw last year‑‑ or last few years, has been nothing short of just absolutely incredible and something that I've never seen before in all my years, let alone the fans. The cars have become so robust and so durable and just so reliable that you go out as a driver and just run them, and you run them hard. You're not‑‑ the only thing you've got to be careful of as a driver is not running into another car or get being caught up in somebody else's mess, from the actual car itself. It'll take ‑‑ short of driving off the racetrack and beating it up, doing the right thing, you can drive them hard the whole race. We plan brake changes, we work hard at all the componentry.
In years gone by, it's very common, we've got to be careful of the transmission, we've got to be careful of over‑revs on the downshift, you've got to be careful of this, that and the other, and with the technology that Hurley was talking about just a minute ago, the sequential shift, all the‑‑ some of the power steering stuff, a little bit more manageable for a driver inside, the brakes are big, the engines are incredibly reliable with the rules that Grand‑Am has put in place, making sure that the engines that have been approved are production based and most certainly can run for not just 24 hours but much longer than that. And all those things together have just made a 24‑hour race in years gone by, where one or two cars finished‑‑ maybe one or two cars finished on the lead lap, you're talking about a multiple of cars finishing on the lead lap.
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