Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League, Sunoco, Turbo
June 5, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We're now pleased to be joined by Cynthia Archer, the vice president of marketing for Sunoco, who will make an announcement regarding Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan.
CYNTHIA ARCHER: We are here today to talk about an exciting partnership with Tony Kanaan as part of our work to promote the upcoming movie this summer with DreamWorks about a snail that wants to win the Indy 500.
So, Tony, there's a Sunoco car in that movie. Tony has agreed to be the driver of that actual car in four races that are upcoming, starting in Texas.
We're very excited about the movie and we've been excited since returning to IndyCar in 2010 as the official fuel partner. We have a long history with IndyCar, and it means a lot to us and our employees. It turns out it seems to mean a lot to IndyCar fans when they saw the Sunoco car we had at the Indy 500.
We're teaming up with Tony and KV Racing, wishing them good luck. There could be nothing more appropriate really than having the IndyCar 2013 champion driving the actual Sunoco car that will be appearing in Turbo in July. We're grateful to him for being willing to do it and happy to make the announcement.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to you on that. We are pleased to be joined by the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan.
Tony, congratulations on the announcement. How excited are you to carry those Sunoco and Turbo colors on your car in four races?
TONY KANAAN: There are plenty of reasons I'm excited. Obviously the Sunoco history in IndyCar, we obviously all know that. When Donohue won the 500 in 1972, I wasn't born yet. But seeing that yellow car with the Sunoco colors for all those years when we go to look at Indy 500 classics, I'm excited.
Second of all, I have to say, my kid is the most excited kid at home right now. Apart from getting the Borg-Warner that I promised him, he's familiar with the Turbo movie. Now my car is the Sunoco Turbo car for him. That, for me, is big.
Obviously, as everybody knew, we were struggling to fill up some of the races with the sponsorship this year. Sunoco came onboard. I can't thank them enough for picking up the races that were left for us to be able to finish the season. I'm excited about that. Hopefully we'll bring them a win soon.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously the Indy 500 was big for Sunoco. Why is this a good platform to be related to KV Racing and the movie Turbo?
CYNTHIA ARCHER: As Tony said, a lot of people have a lot of little kids that are going to be excited to see this movie. We've seen clips here and there. Looks like it's going to be great.
It's one of those things that makes a whole new generation of people get excited about racing. We can see it at the Indy 500, all the other races we go to, how excited the IndyCar fans are, how passionate they are. The sport needs more of 'em.
It was just incredibly cool when Jeffrey Katzenberg and the DreamWorks guys decided to do this movie, which is a realistic depiction of the Indy 500. The graphics are great, the story is great.
Then to have Tony who just won the race in the same year that the movie is coming out being willing to drive the car that's now appearing in real life, not just on the movie screens. It's just a really cool thing for us to do.
We've got a lot of excited employees and customers. We are rooting that Tony is going to win a race in the Sunoco car before Turbo hits the movie theaters. That's our plan and we're looking forward to supporting him in doing that.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, I guess that puts a little pressure on you heading to Texas this weekend. You won there in 2004 on your way to the IZOD IndyCar Series title. Can you make it two-for-two on ovals at Texas?
TONY KANAAN: Why not? I mean, my record there, it's quite good. Last year we were fighting for the win until we got blocked by Will, then we broke the front wing.
I'm excited. Again, I was so happy when I got the news about this. I think the racing world, you love to be associated with sponsors that have been there for a long time. Sunoco is such a brand, even combined with the Turbo and DreamWorks guys, a majority of them are kids, they relate to me because I play pranks and I'm happy all the time. I think it's going to be a win-win situation.
Hopefully I can make justice for all the trust that Sunoco and everybody put on myself and bring them a win this year and extend the relationship for the years to go.
THE MODERATOR: You have gotten a lot of attention for winning the Indy 500 this year. This is the first prime time race that ABC will carry for us. How important do you feel it is for IndyCar and the series to have more big stages to perform on outside of the Indy 500?
TONY KANAAN: I think it's extremely important. Obviously we're on the way, on a climb, as far as bringing other fans back. The credibility that ABC gives to us being in prime time, for sure it's helping that. It's showing that the series is growing.
We can see people are making movies about us now. It's great we're on a climb. I think we have plenty of personalities as far as drivers. We have plenty of competition as far as the cars. It's a great product.
This is some exciting news. For me, obviously I couldn't ask for more. I just won the biggest race of my career. I got so much out of the fans that wanted me to do that. Hopefully we'll keep this momentum, not just for me, but for the series as well, and we can keep it growing.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up for questions for Tony Kanaan and Cynthia Archer.
Q. Did you say this was a four-race sponsorship for the next four races, and that would round out the sponsorship package for the season?
CYNTHIA ARCHER: It is a four-race sponsorship for Tony. It covers Texas this week, Iowa, Pocono and Mid-Ohio.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, before we let you go, talk a little bit about what life has been like as the Indy 500 winner. I know you did David Letterman on Monday. You're going to do the Craig Ferguson show next week. Is it difficult to focus on your job of driving the racecar?
TONY KANAAN: It took a little bit of time to adjust, of course. It took me out of my routine. But it is a good problem to have. We've been busy promoting the win, but also promoting IndyCar, which is awesome.
I can't complain. Obviously, having the doubleheader in Detroit, it was quite tiring for me. But, like I said, I can't complain about that. Looking forward to go to Texas now, and the next four weekends.
I couldn't be more happy that that happened.
Q. Tony, a few minutes ago Justin said that he understood there would be 300 pounds less downforce at Texas this weekend. Last week you told us you thought it would be the same package. Is this something new that's happened in between now and then in making the car harder to drive?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I think so. Obviously I wasn't informed of that when we spoke. If it was a decision made before, probably I wasn't in the loop myself.
I agree. I think we want separation. We don't want a pack race. The only way to create some of that, it's taking downforce out of the car.
You know, we'll see. I think my biggest concern was always being in a pack race. That's going to help to spread the field out, so I'm excited about it.
Q. With all the talk of IndyCar wanting to break the Indianapolis track record, aero kits, give me your overall impression of where you think the series is going over the five to ten years? Are you excited about the aero kits and increased speed?
TONY KANAAN: Obviously, I think when we built the DW12, it was after such a tragic event that we knew we were going to reduce the speeds to begin with, you know, to rebuild. Now it's time to do that.
I'm excited about the aero kits, because it's going to create a lot more competition for us. I'm excited about increasing the speeds, as well. I remember back in the day watching those. It was quite exciting.
I think the series is on the verge of doing that. I think in the next 10 years, you guys going to see some big changes as far as the aerodynamics, some of them on the power, and maybe we can invite some other manufacturers come to not just build engines, but aero kits as well.
Those are things we had planned all along, and we're going to start doing it.
I think it's going to be exciting for the fans. It might change the race formula a little bit as far as the competition, when you open the series for more competition, for different aero kits and stuff. I'm not sure how much you're going to see equal cars. You're going to see some spread-out races, I think. This is the way it was in the past.
Nowadays, we're used to having all the cars exactly the same. It will be a different kind of way to race, which I kind of enjoy that.
THE MODERATOR: Seeing as we have no more questions for Tony and Cynthia, we'll thank them for their time and congratulate them again on today's announcement. We wish Tony the best of luck this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in the Sunoco Turbo car.
TONY KANAAN: Thank you. Appreciate it very much. Cynthia and the Sunoco people, I can't thank you enough. We'll put the Sunoco car in Victory Circle in Texas.
CYNTHIA ARCHER: We'll be rooting for you, Tony.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everybody.
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