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Laguna Seca Driver Interviews

Laguna Seca, CA, September 12, 2004 ó Julie Andre scours the Laguna Seca pit lane and paddock looking for drivers to answer her questions on road courses leaving the schedule, optimal number of overseas races, the best specs for the next Champ Car, and a bonus question.

JULIE: What are your feelings with road courses (Mid-Ohio, possibly Road America and Laguna Seca) coming off the schedule?

CARPENTIER: I guess they have to go where the people are, or where the crowds go. It seems to be OK for this weekend. They are definitely great racetracks. I love Elkhart Lake and here. If the series comes back, itís because people come and watch the race!

BOURDAIS: Well, we need them. Itís the pure essence of road racing and the series needs road races. Thatís what makes this series fun Ė we have all types of races, road courses, street courses, ovals, and super speedways. The big problem is these natural road course racetracks are far away from town, and itís tough to bring people in. But it was possible in the past, so I have to believe that they can do it!

DOMINGUEZ: Well if that happens it would be very unfortunate. They are the two most beautiful tracks in the world. It would be very bad to lose them.

HUNTER-REAY: I donít think they are going to get rid of Laguna. Some of them from a business stand point need to go, because they are not bringing the fans they used to. I love them; they are my favorite racetracks. I will be disappointed for sure, but itís part of open wheel racing these days.

Oriol Servia Interview Photo SERVIA: I always think the more races the better. Twenty or twenty-two races, I would love that. I donít support the idea of taking races off the schedule. Thatís my general view. I would like to have more ovals on the schedule. I liked it when they would have six or seven ovals.

JULIE: What do you feel is the optimal number of races that should be held overseas (outside of North America)?

CARPENTIER: What we have been doing the last couple of years, a little more than half.

BOURDAIS: Iím not an economist, but we at least need to have 50-60% of the races in the States in order to pretend to be an American series. Itís a very fine balance because the promoters are more interested in the other countries than they are in America. Itís something everyone is concerned about, and I guess the new owners are working night and day to come up with a good balance.

Mario Dominguez Interview Photo DOMINGUEZ: I think they should keep the races that are good and attract the people. We have to go where the market is like Long Beach. Itís unfortunate that the Americans donít see Champ Car very much because itís their own product and the fact that it is loved all over the world, they should be very proud of it. Honestly, people around the world watch Champ Cars more than the Americans.

HUNTER-REAY: As many [North American races] as possible! Itís an American series, and we have some American sponsors, so it needs to be as many as possible.

SERVIA: I think they need to have about 65% of the races in the States. If you have 20 or 22 races maybe it should be like 65-75%.

JULIE: What do you feel should be the technical specifications for the next generation Champ Car (chassis and engine)?

CARPENTIER: I think the cars that Champ Car have now are really good. They are really fun to drive. They are fast and really good on all types of courses. They can always make some improvements, but this is a great formula with the push to pass.

BOURDAIS: For sure the cars have been the same for a while, but they put on a good show. If you have to change the cars and the engine to make them more advanced then itís going to cost a lot of money. People canít afford it right now. Maybe they should carry on for two more years until 2006 and then look to change things in 2007 when the situation is more stable.

DOMINGUEZ: I really like the way things are now. Itís a very high tech combination but at the same time itís a real driverís car. You still need to down shift with your hand, there is no power steering, and the car is very fast. Itís a very good combination. Yesterday the fans were saying how they donít want to lose the turbo because they like the sound. Something similar to what we have now is a good combination.

Quote Image HUNTER-REAY: I love the package the way it is now; it gives good equal racing. Really, I think Ford has done a great job. It would be nice to see a few more manufacturers. I think Champ Car will do a great job with whatever way they pick it.

SERVIA: I would like to follow a little bit of what we have now. Iím not saying that we have to keep the same kind of engine, but what makes the series and the car so fantastic is the power, with the grip level, downforce, and braking they are all so well balanced. It just makes the car fantastic to drive. Itís the best machine besides Formula One, so I hope they keep that balance together. You have to change things to keep up with technology but I like the balance we have now.

JULIE: What do you think about the IRL going street racing and running at St. Pete, a former Champ Car venue?

HUNTER-REAY: Itís going to be bad for that series to turn right with those cars!!!!

Copyright © 2004 by Julie Andre and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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