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IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone Indy 200

IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

Eric Debord
Danica Patrick
Jeff Stauffer
July 16, 2005


GLADEVILLE, TENNESSEE

THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Welcome to Rahal Letterman Racing's media availability for Danica Patrick. Race weekends are a challenge for us to balance what we need to do on track and media demands. You have been fantastic. We appreciate that. Before we get underway with the Q&A today, Danica has an announcement she'd like to make. I'd like to bring Eric DeBord up for that announcement.

ERIC DeBORD: I want to thank everybody for coming. I know the schedule is pretty tough. I'm the president of Protential which represents Old World Industries. Normally, I don't get involved with more important things, but I do want to thank a few people for getting this program we're soon to talk about announced, especially Bob, Julie Klausner and Brent who have been great to work with. We certainly look forward to a great relationship with Rahal Letterman as well. Certainly, Sean Dozier from the Nashville Superspeedway and his staff, and in particular John Stewart from Indy Racing League, who we worked with extensively. And finally my good friend Ron McQueeney who is always here with is. Without further ado I'd like to introduce Jeff Stauffer and to his left, we are going to introduce Greg Palese, the brand manager for Mr. Clean wash and wipers. To my furthest left is Josh Russell, the brand manager for PEAK Antifreeze. Without further ado, the vice president of marketing for Old World Industries, Jeff Stauffer.

JEFF STAUFFER: Thank you very much. We appreciate a few minutes here before you get into your Q&A. Again, I want to thank Danica especially and the Rahal Letterman Racing team and Eric for helping make all this happen. Just real quickly, the press kits have a lot of the information. I just want everyone to know Old World Industries has been around for about 30 years. We're a privately held company in Northbrook, Ill. We sell our products in over 50 countries, so we're global and we do a lot of after-market work and OE work. Our major brands are PEAK, which we're here today to talk about, and Mr. Clean with our P&G relationship. We also sell Splitfire sparkplugs, bed liners, wiper blades, a bunch of other products. Our products are found in about 200,000 outlets across North America. You'll find them in places like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, Home Depot, Sam's Club, Auto Zone, Pep Boys. I could go on and on. The presence we hope to make here with this new arrangement by having a lot of point-of-sale materials and display materials up in all these locations is going to be very big. Our PEAK plans at this point in time are for a huge fourth-quarter promotion. We're going to have a multimedia campaign with lots of television and radio, print, online stuff. We're going to have a big promotion around buying the PEAK brand, getting Danica a promotional-type item. Also on the Mr. Clean wiper blades and windshield wash, which is a brand-new venture for our company in a joint marketing effort with Procter & Gamble, we're going to be doing a huge radio campaign in the fourth quarter as well as some online stuff. Again, we think this whole relationship that we're just starting here today is going to benefit not only our company but the IRL and Rahal Letterman and folks like Argent and Pioneer. Again, we're just really pleased to be here today and to thank you, Danica. I'll leave it at that. Thank you very much.

THE MODERATOR: Danica, your thoughts?

DANICA PATRICK: As we know, racing is very important to have sponsorship, very important to have support. To have companies like this that have had the support in the past with such amazing drivers, I believe Dale Earnhardt was one of them. I mean, they've just supported some amazing drivers and I'm flattered to be one of them now. I just hope I can do a good job for them and hopefully they'll stick with me for a long time. Thank you, guys, very much for coming. Let's hope for a long relationship.

JEFF STAUFFER: Amen.

THE MODERATOR: Before we move into the Q&A for Danica, any questions for the gentlemen from Old World Industries?

Q. How will you utilize Danica?

JEFF STAUFFER: We are going to be shooting some television spots, some radio spots, some print, some online Internet advertising, as well. And then we really think the biggest thing is going to be the promotional materials, the point-of-sale displays, whether that's stand-ups in stores, stack-outs at Wal-Mart with Danica wrapped around the product. I mean, we're going to be really interfacing with consumers across the entire country at a lot of retail locations. We really expect to get a lot of exposure.

Q. (No microphone.)

DANICA PATRICK: Well, we were neighbors (laughter). It's about time you got somewhere now.

JEFF STAUFFER: The one thing I didn't mention, obviously with our products, the categories of antifreeze and windshield wipers, what we call low-involvement categories. Not a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about that. When they do, they will be attracted towards a brand. With the brands of PEAK and Mr. Clean, Danica's marketability with men and women is incredible. That powerful combination with these brands is really what is exciting and what's going to be really great for our customers and consumers. That's what we hope to take advantage of.

Q. Will there be a Ms. Clean?

JEFF STAUFFER: I don't know. Will Ms. Clean have to be bald?

DANICA PATRICK: Can you give me muscles? Mr. Clean is pretty tough.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Questions for Danica.

Q. What some people have forgotten you are a rookie. What do you think you have to work on yet as a rookie? What do you need to do?

DANICA PATRICK: I don't think people have forgotten that I'm a rookie. You sure haven't. I think due to the media and due to the hype and due to the attention, people think that you have to do something because of it. That's where they need to just look at what rookies normally do and be smart and think of themselves, "Don't jump the gun on this one." I read a great article in the IndyCar magazine, I think it was a RACER, and it said, "Just enjoy this, watch this, let it grow. Don't think too much too soon."

Q. As far as driving, what do you think you have to work on?

DANICA PATRICK: Everything. I think that as a driver you mature in so many areas. You mature definitely -- one place that I'm losing out a little bit just on experience is having confidence in the car to be driven all over the track in different places, to be very, very close behind somebody in traffic. I still have the tendency to think if somebody backs off or whatever, you know, I'll run right up the back of them. Sometimes I tend to leave a gap. It's just feeling comfortable with small spaces and with cars very close.

THE MODERATOR: One other further point on the fact she is a rookie. In the history of the IndyCar Series, there's been only three true rookies that have won in their initial series. Two of them were in the first two years of the league. The most recent was Tomas Scheckter in 2002. If you also look at all the drivers in the field, the average number of starts before they record their first win, of the drivers who have won in the series, is 33 starts. Of the drivers in the series, only three of them would have won a race in what would be the equivalent of Danica's rookie year. Next question.

Q. (No microphone.)

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah. I think I kind of always knew growing up. I was recalling a story from my dad earlier with the split of IndyCar racing, he said, "This might be our best opportunity to drive an IndyCar one day." I might have been 13 or something, 12. You know, he was kind of right. You know, I think you have to have the big dreams that you can do big things. In the back of my mind I guess I knew that if things went well and if I was given a great chance, drove for a great team, had the experience, I could do very well and in turn do something that hasn't been done before. That's kind of what's happening. That's why there's so much attention. It's because a female hasn't done so many of these things before. At least if they have, it hasn't been repetitive, and it hasn't happened over and over again. I think it's the consistency that's paying off with the fans and with everybody, with the media. This is going to be here to stay. I'm confident of that.

Q. How seriously did you take that advice when your dad said it to you at 13?

DANICA PATRICK: I kind of believe what my dad says. You know, the only thing I started catching him on was he kept telling me, "You just got to work really hard for the next five years and you'll be set." He started telling me when I was like 15. He was a couple years off. It seems like every couple years he would say, "You need to work really hard for the next five years, really focus, you'll be set, you won't ever have to worry again." So it took a couple of times for him to say that. But, you know, my dad, he's very honest, and most of the time he's right, and sometimes "right" isn't always the nicest thing, but right is right. I don't know, I believed him.

Q. Of the roles that have been thrust upon you since you came into the national spotlight, a standard bearer for the series and for women, which has been most difficult?

DANICA PATRICK: I don't think either of them have necessarily been difficult 'cause I've always kind of stayed true to myself and my beliefs. My drive and my focus and what I want to do, I haven't had to sort of change it because I've done well or been popular. I've always been myself. That's just all I know. It's consistent and I promise it will always be. It's just easier. I guess one of the more difficult ones has to be probably staying popular within the fan base and with women and with kids. Everybody has their own opinion of what's good and what's bad. Within the series, all that's needed is attention. You know, there's so many different forms of that. With fans, there's personalities. So, you know, appeasing everyone is not always possible, but you do your best job, as well as signing autographs, having the time to do all that. I feel bad a lot of times when I can't stand and sign for a long time. The longer I stand there, the bigger the crowd gets. It's kind of this never-ending battle if I start. So I do the best I can there, too. I understand, especially when I see people with my hat and my T-shirt on, I especially feel bad if I don't have time. You know, we're also at the track, and we're doing our job here at the track. For the most part, people, when they work at home or at work or wherever they go, they don't have people walking up wanting their autograph while they're doing business. So you're forced spending time with people, but you're trying to do your job. It's a fine line we walk. But we as drivers, all of us, do the best we can to keep the fan base up and everybody walks away smiling, receive the autograph they want or the "hello."

Q. With practice rained out yesterday and the potential of the initial practice session rained out today, does that change your approach going into the race?

DANICA PATRICK: I'll definitely be at a small disadvantage if I don't get any laps in race condition, which is what we do in our final practice in IndyCars. It's pretty fun to watch actually, sometimes even better than the races. But, you know, it's something I will have to deal with if I don't get a chance to run before the race. I know that the series will do the best job they can to make sure everyone is prepared due to the fact that there's only 18 people that have been here before, which leaves five that haven't. I know they'll do the best they can. You know, circumstances are circumstances. Everyone will do the best they can.

Q. Speak about the trophy, the unique nature of it, being one of the most coveted in motorsports.

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I have to say no matter what trophy comes from a victory is great, whether it was a piece of coal or whether it was a guitar or a piece of gold. It's all you could ever want as a driver. I don't play guitar, so it probably doesn't mean as much as it does to somebody like Kenny Brack who does play guitar. I'm sure I know somebody who does play guitar and I could give it as a very nice gift maybe.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming out.

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