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Champ Car World Series: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Champ Car World Series: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Sebastien Bourdais
Bruno Junqueira
Paul Tracy
April 18, 2004


Q. What's more important for the series, the off-season -- inaudible -- all that it went through?

PAUL TRACY: Well, that's a tough question. I think it's important to get off to a good start for Indeck Forsythe team. It's important for the series to have the stars show well, and you have got the three top drivers that were at the front of the race the whole day. But I think most importantly, I mean, our car was still -- we're very, very close, from what I understand, to putting some sponsorship package together. So winning today is only going to help that. We're very close with -- also, Corona is very, very happy with how Rodolfo qualified this weekend. They are very interested in doing some more, as well. So we'll just wait and see. We've got a few weeks now. We've got a test in Portland and I know that they had some people out here this weekend that they are negotiating with, and winning a race today doesn't hurt, for sure.


PAUL TRACY: Well, we talked about that before the start of the race, and I think our -- my strategy is always to be more on the aggressive side and take a chance. You know, I think there is a possibility, if you look historically of when yellows happen, yellows happen usually right after the pit stops when people come out on cold tires and they lose it. They have got cold tires, a heavy load of fuel, they either sometimes spin, go in the run-off and that causes a full-course yellow, and that's typically right after when the pit stops happen. You know, our strategy, we just said, well, we are just going to take our chances and flip the coin and try as long as we have fuel to go; and the track was green, we were going to stay out there and not pit at set times. We were going to go the maximum load. So we never got any yellows. Everybody drove a clean race and everybody was smart about it, and it paid off.

Q.A good race -- inaudible -- the one yellow at the beginning?

PAUL TRACY: No, we have a good group of drivers. In the past when we had all of the "superstars" here, we had non-stop yellows. (Laughter). Right? (Laughter) When all of the star drivers were here, everybody was crashing into each other. I remember, you know, in 2001 and 2002, I mean, there was probably ten yellows in the race. So you could never even get into a rhythm. The group of drivers we have, they are doing a great job. Some of the teams, with as little experience as they have, they have done a great job. I mean, hats off to everybody.

Q.Along the same lines, does it feel much different to win this year and last year, compared to '93?

PAUL TRACY: I think the people I'm competing against are great drivers. We have a lot of drivers now that have come from Formula 1 experience and Formula 3000 experience. Their name is maybe not so recognizable as of yet in America, but, you know, when Montoya came here and Gil de Ferran and Zanardi, nobody knew who they were. They were guys that came, that were aspiring to be Formula 1 drivers. The break didn't happen the way they wanted, they came to America, nobody knew who they were and they made their name here and were able to get back to Formula 1. You know, that is the same now. We have a lot of drivers that have come through the European ranks that are great drivers, just the opportunity is not there for them. So they have come here, and the opportunity is here. And here is one guy right here, in one season, he's become a household name in terms of motor racing in America. And the same for Bruno when he came. I've stayed here throughout my whole career. The opportunity for me to go to Europe never really opened up. So I spent my whole racing career in North America, which has been great for me, but, you know, it's a great opportunity for a lot of drivers. This is a great series to be in. The cars are fantastic to drive.

Q.How much kick did you push down in the first turn?

PAUL TRACY: How much kick? Well, about 45, 50 horsepower and 300 rev. It's tough to feel in the draft and you have the adrenaline going for start of the race, but when you're testing, you can definitely feel it.

Q.With the push to pass, is it less likely -- inaudible?

PAUL TRACY: Well, for me, I didn't really have to use it. My car was quick. I was able to get by lap traffic with relative ease. So there was really no reason for me to use it. So, for Bruno, if he'd have been closer to me, then there was more opportunity to use it.

Q.Can you talk about the rivalry that's developed here with you guys in the last couple of years?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think we came to America in 2001, after racing in Europe, I felt a friendship between the drivers outside the track. Tracy, he didn't want to talk to me too much in 2001. (Laughter).

PAUL TRACY: He didn't speak any English. (Laughter). I couldn't talk to you. (Laughter). I couldn't understand what you were saying. I still can't.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: You didn't speak any Portuguese. But, I mean, I think that friendship between the drivers are really good here. It's very good; you can talk outside the track. But once you get your helmets on, you really race hard, against each other. And for sure, 2002, racing, I won a couple of races and the championship was obviously me and Cristiano and Tracy, and some of the races he was quite fast. I remember the Canadian race in Toronto and he was quite good. Last year, he was really good and consistent throughout the year. It was a big fight. And Sebastien came, showed good speed. He ran, 2004, again, Tracy is fast, he is the guy to beat but Sebastien is always there. But I think it's going to be a great year. I think there's going to be a big fight between me, Tracy and Sebastien. I believe that it's going to be other drivers that are going to be fast, as well. But for sure, I think be consistent, and the championship, Tracy and Sebastien, some of the guys, you have to concentrate. I respect them a lot as drivers. Tracy, as I said earlier, he's maybe one of the best, if not the best driver in the world, and Sebastien is for sure maybe one of the fastest drivers in the world. And I think the new guys coming to the series, I think there are really good new guys, as well. New drivers like Wilson, A.J. and some guys, that it's a little bit of time they are going to show up and prove that they are capable to win, as well.

PAUL TRACY: If I can just follow up, I think what we have in this series is just like nothing else no, other series in the world, where these guys have experience in Europe where F-1 drivers, they really don't associate or talk with each other. We go out, we race each other hard all weekend long. And some of the races where we stay over and have to stay over on a Sunday a night, we all get together, we go out, have beers together, have a bit of a party and have a good time. We enjoy what we do. I think that portrays out to the fans that it's much more of a tight-knit group. And we have a lot of fun with what we do, but we also put on a good show and race each other hard. That's what makes it fun for me.

ERIC MAUK: This will bring an end to our press conference. Appreciate your attention and support throughout this weekend.

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