Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
January 24, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this teleconference for HVM Racing and the IZOD IndyCar Series. We have some very exciting news from the IZOD IndyCar Series today.
In Baltimore, where it's chilly, you are not thinking racing, it's cold, but hey, we are always thinking racing around here. HVM Racing and Entergy Nuclear announced today that they have entered into a three-year partnership to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
This reconfirms the return of 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, Simona de Silvestro as HVM and Entergy team up to promote clean, low cost and reliable nuclear energy.
Keith Wiggins, owner of HVM Racing, and John Herron, President, CEO and Chief Nuclear Officer at Entergy unveiled the delivery of the No. 78 Nuclear clean air energy Entergy Dalara at the beautiful Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Baltimore.
Also we would like to welcome our gifts for the call: Simona de Silvestro, 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year; Keith Wiggins, the owner of HVM Racing; Imran Safiulla, Partner, HVM Racing; and Kelle Barfield, Director of Nuclear Communication, Entergy. All four of you, thank you very much for joining us.
Simona, I will start with a question for you. Just describe, you had such a strong rookie year, running extremely well at Indy, and also having a very good year overall in the entire series, what does it mean to you as a driver to know that you've got a good, solid home with a great sponsor here for the next three years in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, it's just a special feeling, you know, to have gotten this partnership with Entergy, because as a driver, usually during the winter, you're not really sure what's going to happen. And they have given me this great opportunity to be competing a second year, and a couple of more years in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
My first year was pretty good, and with such a partner behind us this year for this season, I think it's going to be even better.
THE MODERATOR: Kelle, talk about what made both HVM and Simona so attractive to Entergy as a company.
KELLE BARFIELD: As a major provider of electric services and the nation's second largest power producer, one of our strong commitments is a public that is more informed about electricity and their energy sources, and what the various options are. And there's nothing more American than our automobiles; whether you follow motorsports actively or not, we find that having a race car, whether it's on the circuit or at college campuses or community fairs, it's a magnet to the public, and they open up a conversation with us about the issues that matter.
And then more so, HVM and Simona have shown that same, strong interest in public awareness, public knowledge, getting the message out there in a way; Simona is a fantastic driver, but believe it or not she's just as good as being a public speaker and advocate for clean energy sources. So it was a perfect partnership.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Kelle.
Keith, talk about what this deal means as far as building HVM, not only for the present, but for the future, one, around a great sponsor such as Entergy, and two, around such a talented driver as Simona.
KEITH WIGGINS: Well, any successful race team needs good partners. And we have had great partners in the past and we have done some exciting things with them.
And you know, last year, getting ourselves established but we discovered and saw the potential in Simona and we all were behind it and believed in her. And of course now we found a partner that believes in what we can deliver with Simona. It gives us the stability to get back to doing a good marketing program, which we very much enjoy, and we are totally in-tune with Entergy and where we want to go with this.
And of course, leading on from that, it gives us as a team the reassurance as Simona mentioned, knowing where we are going for the next couple of years, and the planning that allows us to do on the technical perspective, and just getting ourselves organized and building. We know we can do it.
THE MODERATOR: Imran, there's always been a real connection between the IndyCar Series, especially in the last few years, about energy and different forms of energy and how it relates to racing. Can you talk about the good fit between both HVM and the IndyCar Series and Entergy and what it means from a team perspective? Kelle told us all the great things and what it meant from Entergy's perspective.
But when you look at it from a team and series perspective to align with an energy -- a unique energy company like Entergy.
IMRAN SAFIULLA: First thing is I think it shows the versatility of our sport to be able to reached a average consumer and we can educate them. If you look at the energy demands in the world today, specifically here in the U.S., as they grow, the solutions of being able to provide a clean, reliable and affordable vehicle (ph), and clean energy as a consideration is one of those. So what it shows is our ability as a sport and our ability as a team to be able to go into the household, an average household in America, and open that subject for discussion and conversation so that we can use the sporting medium to educate people over the next few years on this subject so that the policy makers can come in and make a proposal and respond to the energy demands as they grow.
So I think it just shows where the series is headed. It shows that we are relevant in this country. I think it brings credibility to us as a whole, and it fits the objective of striving to have a strong commercial partner and organization like to us get into stable footing, I think it speaks to credibility, that's what it does.
Q. Coming out after a tough economy, considering this deal is a multi-year, how well does that look on your driver, your team and on the series as a whole?
KETIH WIGGINS: Well, I think everybody knows the climate is a challenge for everybody, and the ability that we have to track -- this opportunity has come together because everybody is seeing the benefits and everything is aligned, and (wind interference) gives stability, much like the nuclear -- we have to be efficient in what we do and be competitive. Now we have to look at being efficient and how we spend it in performance.
Q. I'm noticing a bit more testing activity now, does your team have any plans to do any testing on your own before the big one at Barber in mid March?
KETIH WIGGINS: Sure, we do. We are not rushing into it because -- we certainly made a few comments last year, and obviously we were slightly challenged when we lost a couple of the cars during the season which put us a little bit behind on the equipment side of things.
So we are focusing on a new car for Simona and getting organized. We need to do that before we use -- we will be testing toward the end of March. In the meantime, we'll just be preparing for that.
Q. Simona, wondering what you have been doing during the off-season to become a better driver? Have you been doing anything physically or have you gone back and looked at perhaps tapes of last year to just give yourself a head start for this year?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, pretty much during the off-season, it's kind of where the bigger work on your fitness is done. I've been in the gym a couple of hours every day and really focused on that and also spent a lot of time with the team. We worked on things we didn't do really well last year and things we can do better.
You know, that kind of was the focus now, and you know, we are preparing for testing, too. We want to know exactly what we want to go through and so that's what's going on right now.
Q. Simona, first of all, did you go back to Switzerland during the end of the year, and what are your goals for the first testing session?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, well, I got the opportunity to go home and see my family over Christmas. That was definitely nice to spend a little bit of time with them.
And I think for the first test, I think it's going to be in Sebring, and we have a couple of I think a couple of things we want to do better for the street courses and I think that's going to be the focus for the first two days there that we are going to be testing.
Q. This is your second year in the series, and you now have a super partner in energy. What are your realistic goals for this season in terms of either individual races or just season long in the points? Have you set any sort of goals and have the goal posts moved now that energy is on board?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, for sure, I think they have moved because it's going to be my second year, and I think last year, we showed that we were running quite well on the road courses.
And I think, you know, with having Entergy on board, it's really going to have us getting near that next step. I have learned form my mistakes and I'm going to try to do less of them this year, and I think we have a good chance to be really up front, especially on the road courses.
Q. What's your comfort level this year going back to the ovals? You snuck up on people on the road courses but what do you think about ovals, going back to those circuits this year, especially for the Indy 500 for the anniversary?
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO: Yeah, I'm really looking forward for the Indy 500. I've experienced it and it's such an overwhelming race to be a part of. You have a little bit of confidence because I have finished my first 500-mile race last year and we went quite well.
The ovals overall, I actually really like them and I think with a hurt us a little bit is just to lose our primary car in Texas, and then we were kind of, you know, catching up to it. Then that hurt us a little bit.
But you know, I think that we can be confident. For sure, it will be hard, but I think it will be definitely better than last year towards the end of the season.
Q. Does Michael Cannon continue as your chief engineer, and is your potential ALMS team still a potential?
KEITH WIGGINS: Michael Cannon, as you probably know, we've had him for a long time and has become art part of the chemistry of HVM, so, yes, he will continue, much the same as the rest of our staff that's been with us the best part of eight years or more. We are continuing with the same enthusiasm, and our ALMS is still very much a work-in-progress. You have to select and focus on what you need to achieve, and currently the focus at the moment is to get Simona's program together. We also are looking at a second driver program.
So the ALMS, yes, we want to do something when we can do it right. The first thing is get everything organized here and then we'll re-evaluate it. It may be the last week during the year or we may not do anything until 2012. But the intention is there to move into that category, as well, to be more diverse, and to our partners and other opportunities.
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