Champ Car Media Conference
Topics: ChampCar, Pacific Coast Motorsports
September 8, 2006
ERIC MAUK: Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to welcome Champ Car's newest team to the airwaves today. We are joined by the team director and the two drivers from Pacific Coast Motorsports, many of you will recognize Pacific Coast Motorsports from their affiliation formerly with the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, and also their exploits here in the last couple seasons in sports cars. We are joined by team director Tyler Tadevic and the drivers for Pacific Coast Motorsports both of which you will recognize from the Champ Car Atlantic championship, Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge. Guys, thanks for joining us today.
Last week these guys announced last Saturday, they announced that they will be stepping up to join the Champ Car World Series in 2007 after two seasons of running sports cars. And Tyler, let's start with you and tell us a little bit about how the decision came good.
TYLER TADEVIC: Well, I'll be honest, you know we've always had our heart in open-wheel racing. We were fortunate enough to win the Atlantic Championship in 2004. And so consequently, we left open-wheel thinking that the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence, and we found out simply that's not the case.
We are just really pleased to be coming back to open-wheel racing and realize a dream for both the team and the drivers. So we're really fired up to be back.
ERIC MAUK: Take us through the process a little bit, I guess of what you've got ahead of you here in the next couple months as we start to look ahead to the delivery of the new car and testing season opening up.
TYLER TADEVIC: We're going to take the guys and we're going to head out to -- Mr. Delosian (ph) of Rocketsports has made it possible for us to get our hands on a couple of Lolas, take the boys and do 1,200, 1,500 miles' worth of testing with the boys, get them all set to go. Excited to take delivery of the new car. And before we know it, it's going to be March.
So we're just heads down, working hard, lots of equipment to get put together and lots of additional team members to add. Really just quite a lot to be done to be prepared to go. We feel like we have enough time to get the job done, and we're really excited about making our first foray into Champ Car in March.
ERIC MAUK: As the team director, does the experience in the Atlantic Series previously help you at all or does it not really play into it?
TYLER TADEVIC: Oh, no question, it helps for sure. Our knowledge of the venues, our knowledge of the series itself, and the kind of quality venues and people that are affiliated with the spears absolutely help. You know, all of those contacts play a big help in open-wheel race where we're from, so it's a real comfortable thing to head back that direction, and like I say, the realization of a dream for both the team and the drivers.
ERIC MAUK: Outstanding. Congratulations again and welcome to the Champ Car World Series. Ryan Dalziel actually made his debut last season when he ran in Toronto and finished in the Top-10 in his very first Champ Car start running for Dale Coyne Racing. Ryan, a big step for you, and tell us about your thoughts as you guys make this announcement.
RYAN DALZIEL: I think everybody knows my thoughts over the past few years of where I wanted to be, and obviously Pacific Coast gave me the chance in '05 to go and race something a little different when there wasn't any opportunity for me in open-wheel stuff. I had a great time. We've had a great time the past two seasons with them.
I have kind of kept my eye on what's going on in Champ Car and Pacific Coast, and with Alex, it's not been any secret our passion is still open-wheel racing and mostly Champ Car. So this came on me really fast in the past couple weeks. To be honest I don't really think its sunk in yet. It will sink in when I sit down over the next couple of weeks and start processing what's going to happen next year. To be honest, I couldn't be any more grateful for Tyler and Pacific Coast for giving me this chance and hopefully going to deliver and just that way for next year.
ERIC MAUK: Ryan Dalziel, the 24-year-old Scotsman finished second in the Atlantic Championship, had six wins and seven poles in taking those wins and as we said before finished second in 2003 and 2004. Ryan alluded to a little earlier, you made no secret of your desire to be in Champ Car. You campaigned quite a bit, you were always in the paddock, always checking out everything you could. Did it get to a point where you thought it might not happen?
RYAN DALZIEL: Yeah, to be honest I think that really only became a reality in the past couple of months. I think until that point I was still living in the dream world. And the reality of it is that I don't think if it was Pacific Coast, I wouldn't be in sports cars for the rest of my career. Although I had a lot of fun over there, the racing was real fun, it's not where I wanted to be, and I know it's not where I always wanted to be. And pretty much every race went by we sat and spoke about, what if, what if we were running with whatever single series we would run with. We were always jealous of watching other cars.
It's realistic now and it's going to happen, and you know, you can have your one-off and do a little bit here and there, but to actually have a car in front of you for the next year, it's huge.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, looking forward to seeing you on the track next year.
Alex, going to automatically double up the American board driver contention in the Champ Car World Series next year, another guy that has a lot of experience in Champ Car Atlantics, one in Monterey in 2004. And tell us a little bit about your feelings after making this announcement.
ALEX FIGGE: A lot of it, Ryan and I are really close off the track also. Like Ryan said, you know we talked about it a lot and I've always been excited about it. As this came on so quickly, I think we are both still back pedaling a little bit and just have to come to terms with we actually have a season of Champ Car ahead of us, and taking the team in that direction hopefully for the long term.
I guess I'm just excited more than anything. For Ryan, I mean, when he was running Atlantics, he had taken a lot of green flags already, so for me I think it was probably a necessary step to go to sports car for a while. The racing over there is pretty intense in Grand Am, a lot of your drivers, a lot of good cars on the pace.
So for me, someone who doesn't have quite as much experience and got started racing a little bit later, I'm glad to have gone and taken some more green flags and had more starts, more racing, just more experience, gaining some more maturity in the car and stuff like that. At this point, you know, I think I'm ready to go there. I'm really excited to be going with the whole team especially with Ryan and Tyler and the engineers.
ERIC MAUK: You might be selling yourself a little short there on the experience. You have three full years of Atlantic championship experience from 2003, 2004, you finished in the Top-10 in both '03 and '04. Tell us a little bit about what you as a driver are going to do to prepare for the upcoming season?
ALEX FIGGE: Obviously no driver wants to be worried about the physical part of it. So obviously I'm going to work my hardest to have that not even be on my mind.
Other than that, I mean, I think it's just, you know, I think we all need to go into the season with reasonable expectations. I mean, the first few races in Champ Car are difficult for anybody regardless of fitness and talent and otherwise. You know, so for me, I think it's just going to be a learning process, but I really love being in open-wheel and I love the style of driving that, you know, that's quick in open-wheel. Yeah, I mean, I can't wait -- I can't wait to start testing.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, a big step in your career and we're excited for you and look forward to seeing you on the track, as well.
Q. Wonder if Tyler and the drivers have anything to add, tell us if yourself and Bob Gelli (ph), you're the first new teams to step in Champ Car really since the bankruptcy days. What are the elements that attracted you and made you reach a decision that, yeah, we can make this work, we can do this?
TYLER TADEVIC: I tell you, Kevin Kalkhoven, who I can't say enough good things about, his heart has always been in open-wheel racing. Basically he saved what we saw as the last vestiges of what we saw as true open-wheel racing in the United States.
Fortunately we were able to strike up a conversation with him. With the new rules that are in place with the new car, the new motor package and all of the new things that they have put into place, they have made it possible for a team like ourselves, a new team coming in, to feel like if we really work hard and are professional and come in with the proper resources that are necessary, that we would have the ability to compete against the likes of, you know, Forsythe and Newman/Haas and that those long setup books that they have from the past with the Lola chassis and all of that really don't pertain any longer.
Just the opportunity to come and compete. The venues are second to none. And we really believe that Mr. Kalkhoven both has the resources and the commitment to make open-wheel racing, you know, take it back to its peak of what it was before the bankruptcy days. We're just really excited to be a part of that, to be supporting that and we believe that he's got the right formula and that's the direction we're looking to go, always has been. Just very happy to have the opportunity.
Q. Any key elements in the people or infrastructure that you've got to do to ramp up to make this happen?
TYLER TADEVIC: Well, of course we're going to have to add people. You know, in sports car, we did get a lot of experience with pits stops during the course of an event and strategy during the race, and so consequently we feel like it was a very good learning ground for us. We've got a great background in the Atlantic series and have won championships there, and then went to sports car and got the experience of what it took to be prepared and do the things during the course of a longer race. So those two things coupled together really have given us what we need to lay the groundwork to move forward.
We're going to have to add some technical staff. We're going to have to add some mechanical staff. Certainly we're going to have to be looking at the PR and marketing and things a bit more seriously in that the venues and just this venue in general, it really makes it possible for us to go out and procure sponsors and things like that.
So it's certainly a step up on every front, but I think we're ready and capable for it. We have enough time to get the job done and most importantly we have the foundation in place to make that happen. Our engineering staff we believe is second to none. Our mechanical staff falls into the same category, and, of course, our two drivers are ready to go do this. We really believe we've got all of the ingredients to be successful and are just looking forward to getting on the racetrack.
Q. When the auto announcement was made at the race last weekend, there was talk about your continuing with Grand Am, will you be going back and racing some of the longer races when there's no conflict?
TYLER TADEVIC: To be honest, you know, we're in the process still of formalizing what our relationship with Grand Am is and what whether we plan to continue competing there. Definitely the 24-hour race, 9-hour race, 6-hour race, certainly Pacific Coast will be pulling from its pool drivers, the foremost of which are Dan and Ryan. Absolutely they will be given the opportunity for races that don't conflict. We believe the more experience that they can have, the better that is for them. But really that remains to be seen far as what events they will be competing in as far as neither one of the final schedules are out. So it's really difficult to say which ones they will be. But the ones that don't conflict will be considered as events they will compete in.
Q. And where will the team be based?
TYLER TADEVIC: We'll keep our base where it has been in Oxnard, California. We're fortunate to open up a beautiful new facility there about a year and a half ago, and we opened that up with the intention of expanding and growing the organization. And so this is just right in line with what the game plan has been all along. And so we'll be based out of southern California, which is what our home is. Obviously that's where Pacific Coast Motorsports comes from, and that's where we'll be operating out of.
Q. Tyler, you had a number of sponsors in your Grand Am program, have any of them expressed interest in the Champ Car program?
TYLER TADEVIC: Definitely there's been some interest expressed. You know, I'm really not at liberty to disclose what our sponsorship program will be going into next season as we are still in the process of negotiations with both existing sponsors and prospective new sponsors. We plan on making some announcements over the course of the next 60 days to announce who the sponsors will be. Certainly you'll see some familiar faces in regards to sponsorship, and probably some new ones, as well.
Q. Question for you, Tyler, and then maybe for the drivers. Has Champ Car indicated whether or not a new team like yours with new drivers would get additional testing time in the off-season?
TYLER TADEVIC: There is a, like you said, you know, we were fortunate to strike a deal with Mr. Delosian to get our hands on a couple of Lola chassis. Over the course just after the Mexico City race through to the first of the year, we'll be testing a lot. We'll be doing a lot of testing with both the boys. We hope to accrue between 1,500 to 2,000 miles apiece for each one of the boys in the Lola just to got them up to speed. It's my understanding that that type of testing is just allowed for the rookie teams.
As far the testing with the new chassis in that, Kevin really wants to keep it a level playing field. We'll be allowed to test pretty much as much as we want from the Mexico City race to the end of the year. But the testing on the new chassis is going to be clamped down very hard in order to keep the playing field level.
For us, we like that. We think that's a situation where we've been able to excel in the past on a level playing field, so we'll take all of testing we can in the Lola to get the boys up to speed. And then, you know, we believe the engineering staff we have will be able to set up the car as far as anybody with the new chassis as soon as we can get our hands on it.
Q. My next question is for Alex. You've never driven a Champ Car; is that correct?
ALEX FIGGE: No, I have. I did one day for Forsythe and two days for Conquest.
Q. So you've had some testing?
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah.
Q. Have you had any trepidation at all stepping up to a Champ Car? What was your impression when you drove it?
ALEX FIGGE: You know, I actually felt that, you know, especially by the Conquest test after you get the sort of first test day jitters out, that I really enjoyed it. It's a pretty physical car which I think it rewards being pretty aggressive.
So for me, I don't know, I like the brake zones and, you know, I try to drive as aggressively as I can. So I liked it a lot. I really enjoyed it. I felt like I had a couple pretty successful test days.
ERIC MAUK: Just to clear up a couple things on the testing rules that Mark had asked about, there will be three open tests next year for the new chassis, three-day test in January, two-day test in February and two-day test in March. Those venues will be named a little later on.
And then during the season, each team will have 600 miles available to them to use at their discretion. Each rookie driver will have an additional 300 miles and eight sets of tires to use, and new entrants, such as Pacific Coast Motorsports, may be allowed additional testing miles at the discretion of the vice president of operations, just to lay that out for everybody.
Q. I wanted to clear up between what Eric said and about what Tyler said about testing of the new car. Eric if I heard you correctly, there would be for a new team, and a new team with rookie drivers, 300 additional miles for each rookie driver with the new car as well as the team would get additional miles; is that correct?
ERIC MAUK: That is correct. Each entrant with -- I'm reading this off the tech bulletin right now. Each entrant and licensed rookie driver who is entered to drive a Champ Car will be allowed an additional 300 miles and eight sets of tires, and partial-season entrants may be allowed testing miles beyond the normal scope of those rules at the discretion of the vice president of operations. And also like Tyler alluded to, teams have unlimited testing of the Lola using the remaining engine miles between November 13 and December 15.
Q. When you say "remaining engine miles," what do you mean by that?
ERIC MAUK: I don't know. I'm reading off the tech bulletin.
Q. And the open tests were three days in January, two days in February and two in March?
ERIC MAUK: Yes.
Q. And are those venues to be determined?
ERIC MAUK: I believe we already know where they are, but they are not on this bulletin; therefore, I'm not at liberty to say. It appears our work is done here, so we'll wrap up today's Champ Car media teleconference.
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