A media conference call was held today to discuss ESPN on ABC’s live telecast of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29, beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Participants on the call were ESPN senior vice president and executive producer Jed Drake, along with the three members of ESPN’s booth for the telecast: lap-by-lap announcer Marty Reid and analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. This is the 47th consecutive year that the Indianapolis 500 will air on ABC.
JED DRAKE: Do you know where you and what you were doing in 1965? ABC was televising the Indy 500 and it’s a legacy that means so much to all of us today. We have put together an outstanding team for producing this telecast, and the three gentlemen on the call today are part of it. With Marty calling the race, he is the very best at this type of race, and with Scott, one of the great experts and strategists of what happens. And with Eddie, you know, you’ve got one of the most interesting guys on the planet. Eddie, sorry to talk about you in third person here, but I’ve often said that you can bring up any topic with Eddie and find yourself an hour having gone anyplace, and it was all thoughtful, meaningful and poignant conversation.
Q – What is standing out for you going into Sunday’s race?
MARTY REID: Coming off of qualifying, it’s no shoe-in for anybody. And I think that’s something that we haven’t been able to say for quite a number of years. And I think it adds an element of excitement. In fact, with the double file restarts, I honestly believe that we could have a really big surprise at the end, because you never know what’s going to happen right now. These guys haven’t figured out those double file restarts. And if they don’t do it there, it could get extremely messy. So I think it’s going to be one of those races that there’s no way of predicting exactly what’s going to happen. Unlike a few years ago when we were all talking about Helio, and he was so strong the whole month and sure enough he goes out and wins his third.
EDDIE CHEEVER: I think it’s been a really interesting month so far, and I agree with everything Marty said. It’s very hard to actually sit back and pick a favorite. I think with the fact that this is going to be the last year they’re probably going to run this equipment, everybody’s pulled out all the stops. They’ve had some great surprises in qualifying. I hope that they’ve learned how to do the restarts a little better than St. Pete or we won’t have any cars left after 10 laps. It’s going to be different. So it’s just all up in the air.
We have a bunch of wars between a bunch of different teams and there are some new players on the block that went incredibly well. Tagliani did incredibly well in qualifying. So it will be an exciting race.
I love being here. It’s kind of like driving for Ferrari in Formula 1. When you’re with ABC, it just makes everything you’re doing so much easier because there is such a rich history in this sport. So I’m excited to be here.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: Much as the other two folks said, the thing that is interesting is we’ve got guys coming back that don’t have full time rides, obviously, like Dan Wheldon, guys that just show up for the Indy 500, Townsend Bell. You’ve got Buddy Rice who has been away for a couple of years. It’s remarkable that they’re able to come in here with teams that are maybe not as strong or perceived to be not as strong as a Ganassi or a Penske, and they’re getting the job done. When you look at the grid right now with how well those guys have performed, Wheldon has a shot at winning this event again, so does Buddy Rice. Townsend Bell is always strong. Remarkable they’ve been able to come in here and go against the power houses and really to know they have an opportunity to run up front. I will tell from you talking to drivers and crew people in the garage this past week, those are names that are coming to the forefront, and they expect that they’ll be contenders if they’re around at the end. And I think that’s going to make it interesting for us, interesting for our viewers. Got some wonderful stories with Sarah Fisher who has stepped up and has a small team. If you recall, couldn’t get a sponsor, then finally got one that didn’t send a check. She ran anyways, got involved in an accident with Tony Kanaan. They felt bad. They gave her team some parts from Andretti at that point in time. Comes along with Ed Carpenter with his tie to the speedway, and you know, he’s sitting in the middle of row three. A lot of good stories, and I think a lot of racing will be coming out on race day that’s going to be, really, really strong.
Q. – Eddie, I’m working on a story on Roger Penske and his staying power at Indy and just in Motorsports in general. How incredible is it for a 74 year old who is worth more than a billion dollars to still be seeing him on pit road with the headset on still pulling the strings and making the calls for his teams? Talk a little about his staying power and what it’s meant to the sport.
EDDIE CHEEVER: I think that’s a great question. I had a really good visual of that the other day when I was in the museum. I went with my son’s 5 year old class to visit the museum on field day. And I started at one end of the museum to the other. And some kid kept asking me why are these Penske cars always there? He’s been prevalent in almost every era that he’s been involved in, he’s been a winner. It’s unbelievable he’s been as successful as he has been in business and in racing. So I think whenever somebody starts a racing team in the United States, you almost look up at the top of the ladder and you inevitably see Penske. The latest era he’s been fighting with Ganassi on the track, then it was Carl Haas, and it was somebody else. He’s managed to get better and better as the years went on. It’s just incredible. I look at him as America’s version of Ferrari, of something that is just incredibly successful that their presence is felt all over racing in the States.
Q. – I wonder if you could assess Danica’s career, where she is now. Does she have to win soon to gain a little more stature? Also comment on Simona De Silvestro. I know a lot of people think she’s a real talent.
MARTY REID: Sure, I’m impressed with the fact that no matter what is thrown at her, and some of it is good, some of it is bad, she’s become much more resilient. She is extremely focused. She’s realistic when she knows what she has underneath her. Yes, she’ll be the first to tell you that she likes a car that has a lot of grip, and that is something that she’s learned over on the NASCAR side is how to drive a loose race car. If you’ve noticed here in the second year of that effort, she’s had her best finishes in the two years that she’s been doing that. What’s going to happen in the 500? It’s going to be interesting. I think she’ll race herself into position. Can she win from 26th? Well, it’s been done, Johnny Rutherford did it. He won from 25th. But it’s going to be tough. They may have to go out of sequence. As far as Simona is concerned, I don’t think anybody truly appreciates or understands the pain that this young woman has gone through to wrap those hands and to be able to climb into that car and to make it run as fast as she made it run. Years ago I had second degree burns on just one hand, and I can tell you, I tried to imagine what it would be like climbing into that car and trying to do what she was doing. I couldn’t really think that I could do that. I honest to goodness don’t know that I could. The pain is pretty darn excruciating.
What she’s accomplished, we showed her at St. Petersburg, and she was tracking down Tony Kanaan, and everybody that you talk to will say the same thing. She’s the real deal.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I absolutely agree. Marty and I probably spent 20 or 30 minutes with (Danica) in the garage the other day during one of the rain delays. I do not see her as frequently as Marty does, and had not seen her since St. Pete, but for only a few minutes before that event. But I will echo what Marty says in the sense that she’s become much more confident, much more resilient. Maybe she’s just used to the pressure all the way around. When I say that, we all have our home races, and for me the Canadian race being Toronto where I was born and also Vancouver, the amount of focus you have on you and the amount of time that is required for you to do all the PR is immense. Danica has that everywhere she goes and on both sides. When I think about what she’s been able to do, and how she has been able to really manage her life which is so important and manage her time and just her thoughts. It’s great when you can get in the car on race day and put your helmet on because that’s why we drive. That’s why we love the fun, we love the danger element, and we love the speed and all the things that go with it. But it’s the workload that’s before that that makes that happen. I don’t care what sport you talk about, you have your top player in football, basketball or hockey, and I don’t think that they have the pressure and the commitments that she does, and she’s done terrifically.
Q. – I’m interested in gauging the staying power of an event like this in today’s sports TV world. Historically you can compare it to a Kentucky Derby or a Rose Bowl. But I wonder do younger viewers get drawn into this, the kind of viewers that have X Games and MMA mentality on their radar? Even if you can get a comparable adrenaline rush from watching an event like this, are younger viewers getting into this stuff?
JED DRAKE: That’s always the challenge for drawing a younger audience like this. You want to keep it turning over and over as at the years go by. But I do believe this event has staying power and it is on a growth curve. That is my prediction and I’ll just say it. I’m not going to give you any ratings numbers specifically, but I think we are going to see that. And the reason I say that is say what you will about the other events that you mentioned, and the X Games fall under my watch as well, but there is truly something special about this race. Rich Feinberg (ESPN vice president, motorsports) mentioned it significantly last week when the announcers on the call and others that he met with. He likened it, I believe, to the Masters where there may be only one golf event that a large portion of our population watches each year. If that’s the case, then it is the Masters. I think the same thing goes for those that watch the Indy 500. It is something that absolutely, positively exceeds the notion of it being just a Motorsports event. It’s the spectacle, it’s the element of danger, It’s all of the things that we know.
I think that transcends age, and, in fact, I think it probably plays pretty well to the youth angle, because once they do start watching it, I think that there is an amazement about it. Like I said, I’m looking for us to start growing again, and I think that that will be with youth. So check with me next week, but I’m pretty bullish on it, and I think that is the direction we’re going.
EDDIE CHEEVER: What I found to be the most amazing thing about the 500, and I’ve been lucky enough to race all around the world, is you don’t have to explain it to anybody. Wherever you’re at, whatever setting you’re at, racing or not racing, everybody wants to know who the Indy 500 champion is that year. It has such a broad appeal. This being the 100th race of a nation that really isn’t that old, it really plays an important part in our history. I know that all the drivers, everybody is pulling out all the stops. Because I think to be the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 will be a very important thing. And I’m quite confident the public is sensing exactly the same thing.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: If I can add on that, I think things have changed dramatically in this last year around the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When I say that, maybe it’s a combination of IZOD coming on board. But I’ve got young kids, and I just noticed through some of their friends that aren’t necessarily racing people, and it’s the IZOD brand that gets something now in the store that has something Motorsport oriented on it. I think the marketing has been stepped up. I don’t know if there was honestly any marketing going on in the last few years, because we’ve had different sponsors, Northern Lights, things that people don’t know of the name or associate with. And now I think we’ve got something that is a brand that somebody recognizes, and they’re doing a terrific job. Even yesterday making the drivers go around to different places around the country I thought was maybe a bit better of an idea than channeling them all off to New York. All of the different ideas and people they have in place I think are making a difference along with IZOD, and there are people focusing on the marketing side of this sport rather than just the nuts and bolts in the cars. So I think the interest level has been tenfold this year, so I think it’s on the right track. It’s great.
Q. – Technology wise what kinds of things are we going to see in the telecast that gives the viewers a cutting edge experience?
JED DRAKE: In terms of what we’re going to be doing technologically starting with 64 cameras, we’ll have 12 in car camera systems. We have upped the game on our radio components. So the kind of audio that we’ve heard to some degree at Indy is going to be better now, and probably more akin to what people have become accustomed to our NASCAR coverage. We’ll have Bat Cam in position again, which is the very long run that goes over the pits, all the way down close to turn 1. We have two super slow mos that we’re going to be using, which are new that will give us really good coverage in the corners and on the short shoots. And we’ll be doing audio in 5.1 Dolby for the first time, which for an event that is filled with the kinds of sounds that the Indianapolis 500 is filled with, I believe that those that are capable of listening to that audio will hear this race like they’ve never heard it before, and that is it.
Q. – I guess Eddie or Scott, the past couple of years we’ve had unification, we’ve had now significant bumping at Indy, big full fields elsewhere. How is the sport better, or worse, or different than it was pre split?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think when the split was here there was confusion. I can almost guarantee you that because I drove for teams with sponsors, but I always try to go out and bring in associate sponsors knowing that it would do two things, help the bottom line with the team but allow more testing. When the split happened, you are going into corporate America. When it first originally happened there weren’t many questions, people weren’t aware of it. As it started to grow through the ’96 season what ended up happening is one of the first questions you’d get either on the phone or when you walked in the door was what series are you with? And really that was the point where I think I looked at it and said we have a huge problem here. A lot of times I will tell you that I was actually I’ll tell you the name, Best Buy. I was in Best Buy working with something with them along with Radio Shack on a vendor program through 1996. I probably had six going on seven months with it, and they were just worried about getting involved in the series because they didn’t know if they wanted to go to Indy or what they perceived as maybe being the bigger series with all what they perceived were the bigger names. So these were all thing that’s came to me at that point in time. The gentleman’s name was Maynard, I believe, that was up there, I can’t remember his first name. But it came to a halt, basically, and that’s because there was a split. There was confusion in the program. As a matter of fact, even at the end of ’95, I got on a plane, came over here and did an opening for Incredible Universe, which is over here in a place called Fishers, Indiana because it was all done through Radio Shack and another program I was working on. And over that winter, as a matter of fact, November of that year, the program stopped. It was because they did not feel confident getting involved in something they felt was fragmented. Today unification couldn’t have happened soon enough. I think it’s been a positive. And I think moving forward there is no confusion not only for the sponsors, but more importantly probably the fans. Now they believe they are watching everybody on one track, they are watching the best, and there is no controversy about what they’re looking at.
Q. – So not to put words in your mouth. But you’ve taken a 14-year detour that’s taken us right back where we were?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: Absolutely. And will I go back further. When I was looking at getting involved in IndyCars, I was visiting a few of these tracks, spending a lot of time in the ’80s driving for factory teams. But when I had my chance in 1990 to come to the speedway and went to different tracks around the country in the CART era, you’d get off the plane in Phoenix and walk to a 7 Eleven and there would be a Bobby Rahal or a Danny Sullivan stand up promoting the beer or the race and everything like that. No doubt the race was in town. And it changed. Now everybody knows the NASCAR sponsors, the NASCAR names, but that seems to maybe hit its peak or what have you, or now IndyCar is starting to raise its level. There is no doubt it’s getting back to being popular. The reason why, maybe the things we just spoke about, not sure, but loving it. The interest level is really, really big right now. Not only from the people in the industry that are on the edge ever it, but also people that you bump into getting gas, having food. Doesn’t have to be in this city, it could be anywhere. I was in Toronto recently, and they were all hopeful that Paul Tracy would get a ride. Obviously knowing the name, but they’re paying attention to it. That’s what we need in this sport. I’m excited where it’s going to be not only next year, but two or three years from now and three to five years from now.
EDDIE CHEEVER: Let me add to something that Scott just said. I think from a fan’s perspective he encapsulated very clearly what happened. Obviously having a division with some racing in one place, and some racing in another was not positive for open wheel racing at all on any side of the aisle.
But we have to go back to remember what the arguments were about. The arguments were about the racing teams running the series. So it is true we’ve gone through a 14 year evolution, but the actual decisions on how IndyCar is run is not made by a public company. It’s made by a private company.
I think now that you seem to have a much of more aggressive manner of running it, you’ll maybe see decisions that enhance what the fans are going to see. So it is definitely a positive. But the structure of how the sport was being run remained the way they wanted it to happen before the split occurred. So there were a lot of changes and a lot of evolutions that we had to go through to get to this point.
Q. – Jed, since this is the 100th anniversary of the race and since you’ve had it all the way back since the ’60s, will there be a lot of little drop ins of historical mentions throughout the race or little features that you can pull from since you have all that wonderful archival footage of the great days of the ABC sports franchise?
JED DRAKE: Yeah, absolutely. I think that is one of the great delights in doing this race is that be only does the race have the history, but we have the history with it. Those moments are the opportunity to watch the Indy 500 is not just simply about the spectacle of it, but it’s recognizing that you have the opportunity to watch history unfold in front of your eyes. And the chapters that have unfolded so many times speak to that. It’s not just a statement, it’s fact. So when you think about the coverage on the day, you think about those moments that are appropriate. Again, with the centennial, this great production team has put together 100 years by American Presidents. We’re going to have a whole pregame piece that’s devoted to the journey. One of our staffers must have way too much time on their hand because they’ve determined there are 876,600 hours since the first race, so we’ll actually chronicle some of the things that have gone on in the world, and certainly in our country since then with World War I, the Great Depression, a woman flies across the Atlantic. I’m reading a list here, I apologize. The 200,000 plus march on Washington for Civil Rights, the assassination of Kennedy, and men walking on the moon, September 11th and all other matters in between. So we recognize the importance of this event for the event itself, but also by addition, the historical significance of itself and the period of time. I was sitting with Brent (Musburger) a few years ago when we were talking about sort of the scene set. And I reminded him that if you really want to put this race in perspective, think about this: The Civil War had only been over I think it was about 50 years. The Civil War had only been over 50 years when the first race was held. That really does put it in context.
Q. — To the panel, obviously we’re just talking about the history of it. What were some of your favorite drivers as you were getting into the racing series or maybe even not necessarily there yet that still gives you memories of Indy as a kid growing up?
MARTY REID: Well, obviously as a young man, I was enamored with A.J. Foyt for more than one reason, but then this guy in ’65 named Jimmy Clark comes over here, and that rear engine Lotus, and I mean it was an evolution, or in some cases, a revolution in the sport. He became a driver, and unfortunately he was killed not too long after that. I just cannot get out of my mind watching that ’65 just zipping around the track, and then all the developments along the way. I remember the turbine just like everybody else and you watch the evolution of the whole automobile. I think that’s what’s got the fans excited about this new car, and the fact that you’ll have multiple engine manufacturers and that is down the road. Right now everybody has brought out every car that they’ve got. That’s why we’ve had so many trying to make the show, and it was great. I think the race is going to be just as great. I think, Scott, you pointed out on our conference call this morning, this is the closest field ever like two and a half seconds between first and 33rd.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I guess I didn’t think about that until I read it, and I thought wow it just shows how close the field is. But speaking of the history to it, I think being there the last 10 days and being around the track and seeing all the events and the marketing machine now revved up for the series and for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the centennial, just all the pace cars that have returned. They had an event for the pace car owners. That sort of thing tells you exactly how this event here is growing and continuing to grow, and the historical significance that it has. I think for me it was definitely Mario Andretti because I was a big Formula 1 fan growing up in Toronto, Canada. We have a big Formula 1 following up there. And having the opportunity for one of my other heroes, Gilles Villeneuve, watching those guys grow up. And watching the IndyCar stuff with Mario was really enlightening, and probably giving me the opportunity to think that if I couldn’t get going in Europe, I’d like to go off and compete in IndyCar. Mario was the one that I was watching. I even watched Eddie in a Formula 1 car when I was growing up.
Q. — He got you there.
EDDIE CHEEVER: I’m just trying to understand why I don’t like Scott so much. I didn’t know you were a secret Mario Andretti fan. My family moved to Europe when I was 4, and the only connection I had was through the 500. And my father thought very highly of Foyt, and all of his colloquialisms were not spared on me as I was growing up. Like Marty, when I started racing, Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark were the ones that I followed the most. You know, there are just so many different things. Before I came here, those were names that I tended to recognize. But when you sit down and look at the history of the 500, and look at a family like the Unsers where a father has won four, his brother has won three, and his son has won two, and one family has a total of nine, it is incredible. There are so many things you want to pick up. You could spend the rest of your life writing stories that have occurred in the Indianapolis 500 and never repeat yourself. So I think it was back to not so much about the drivers, but the aura of the place, that it’s so fast, and so dangerous. And if you make a mistake, you pay for it dearly. Yet, if you win, you’re projected into the future as a winner of the Indianapolis 500. I’ve always been in love with the place. I like Indy. I like the four different corners. I like the fact that the walls are hard. I think it’s good that it doesn’t become too easy. And throughout all of its history, you can always see the jumps that humans have taken forward with cars. Not to keep talking about this year’s race, but I think this year’s race is going to be particularly interesting for a variety of reasons, none of which is more important than the fact that Indy is 100 years old.
Q. – Talk to me about Sam Schmidt. How cool is this with all he’s gone through and all his struggles and who he is, the driver on the pole. Talk about your thoughts on Sam Schmidt?
EDDIE CHEEVER: I raced with Sam when there was a split in open wheel racing, and I spent a few years with Sam on the road and we raced together. I was actually at the track when he had that horrible accident. I think 99.9% of the people that I have met in my life in those conditions would have disappeared. Would have disappeared inside of himself because he’s had to deal with not being able to do the things that he did before. Now he lives in a wheelchair. I am astounded of his pragmatic march that he is on of building a group of people and making himself as successful as he has been and winning the pole position at Indy. He is an attribute. He is an incredible person. I have to admit that it brought tears to my eyes when I saw the look on his face when Tag won the pole position. It was incredible. He is an incredible person. I think it makes our racing history to have somebody like Sam involved in it. I cannot wish him well enough with the Indy 50. What he’s achieved is incredible.
Q. — He was a pretty fair country driver too, wasn’t he?
EDDIE CHEEVER: He was feisty; he was very feisty. I’ve argued with a few people, and I think he was on my list also that I argued with at the racetrack. I think he used to call himself superman when we raced. But I just enjoyed being around him. I enjoyed watching his success now. I don’t think anybody should discount him on Sunday, his team on Sunday. And I definitely would not discount him on this new future for IndyCars that will be arriving soon for the new cars.
Q. – Scott, what’s been the difference, he would have one car a year, one race a year at Indy and then be in Indy Lights. What is the difference this year?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: As I asked him the other day, he said he was just lucky to be able to acquire a group that was put together so well, being the old FAZZT race team, and a driver like Alex and the group they have over there and led by Rob Edwards and Alan McDonald engineering. I think honestly you have to give him a lot of credit. And I said this to him, you knew a diamond on in the rough because they were showing opportunities in front of them and some brilliance along the way. They were looking for money. Didn’t know if they’d get going through the winter or throughout the winter. There were many times last fall, the last five or six races where you’d start to hear it strongly. They were almost race to race, and over the winter nobody knew if they’d come out. I think he took advantage or got involved in a perfect opportunity. And that being said, with Eddie with what he was talking about there, I stood there on the weekend with all the qualifying going on, and I felt that them. I thought here’s this fast nine. You don’t get multiple tries because of the rain delays. So the format’s not working as originally scheduled, so everybody’s getting one shot. I love the fact that they started from nine and worked their way backwards, so it was Alex that had the one last try. I really felt for him. I thought I hope you get it. Because I know Alex very well, and a lot of people from the FAZZT Team, and especially for Sam. When it came through, it was terrific. I stood there and I thought I think this is the beginning of the next Ganassi Team that’s coming along to knock the other guys off the podium, and I really feel that. I think in a couple of years from now we’ll be counting how many wins Sam and his drivers are accumulating.
Q. – Scott, with all the talk about history, I wanted to ask about the history you made there. I believe the finish in ’92 was still the closest. Can you walk me through coming on off the fourth turn and talk about the impact that had on your life? I assume that day sucked, but does it still suck when you think about it?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: They say winning the race changes your life. I think for me finishing second changed my life. We talked a lot about that event this whole year leading up to Indy. But realistically I looked at it as a positive. A lot of people said it’s a shame you didn’t win, but for a couple of reasons, number one, I didn’t do ovals in training cars at all. I went up to the Formula Ford ranks and Formula Atlantic and all that stuff did not have oval racing, the sports car stuff in Europe and did not have the opportunity to race in ovals. My real oval experience, the first car oval experience was testing the IndyCar at Phoenix in January of 1990, my rookie season doing the full cart year and getting to Indy.
So when I got to Indy that year, I think Indy was my third event in 1990. They had five or six oval events a year, so in ’92 when I got to Indy, it was probably my 12th to 14th oval race in my life. And I just said this in a speech recently, now looking back on it, I did not have the knowledge or experience of really what to do with a car on an oval to properly take advantage of getting past Al. I say that. I’m sitting in my office and I have a picture of the finish where his rear wheels are going across and my front wheels are going across at the same time. The neat thing about that though is coming from 33rd, the extreme cold conditions. And probably starting 33rd was lucky. If you remember, Guerrero spun the car and he was on pole. Just before that happened, I was in the back, so I got extra room. I’m warming the tires up, and the car stood up from underneath me. Obviously we had a lot of horsepower back then compared to now. And I got on the radio and said to Derek Walker, I can’t believe how cold this track is. I can’t even get the tires warm, and we’re coming up to the start. Two laps later, Guerrero spun and did their thing. And Derek Walker comes on the radio and says, Is that you? Is that you? I said, What, what? He said, There is a yellow. And I saw what happened. I said, No, somebody’s spun off inside the wall.
I think that was a positive because from that point onwards, I thought I’m going to take my time. I’m not going to be as aggressive on the starts as I usually would, and people were just sort of running around in front of me. I knew we had a good car. Probably didn’t know how to take advantage of it, and years late certainly did. On the other side of that, Junior had many years of oval experience, and he had been there since 1983 so I guess I just went to school on that race. Got a lot of lessons, I think.
Q. – He told me coming off of four when he got a little loose and as he was coming down the front stretch he thought I lost the race. Did you have the inverse of that? Did you think you were going to get him?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I thought I had a good run off of it and his car moved a little bit. And I thought here’s an opportunity. And did not have that in the previous laps. When I go back and look at it I was searching around. The car was sliding, and I didn’t know enough how to handle the car. Going to three, to get a good run coming out of four. It’s ironic. I do some work in the automotive business, and we’ve just hired Al Jr. six weeks ago or two months ago to come work on our program with us. He and I got to spent a few days riding back and forth to the track, and we touched on so many different things. It was really a good time. We talked about ’92, and we laughed about it. I just saw him the other day riding behind the scooter and I was coming up behind him on a golf cart. I yelled to him and I do this all the time. I go, “objects in your mirror are closer than they appear.” He knew exactly what it was right away and he turned around and laughed. That’s what we talk about coming down to the run all the time. He says I looked in my mirror and all I could see was the blue and silver, and I thought oh, man I think I’ve blown it. So I loved to kid him all the time.
Q. – Scott and Eddie, in reference to new fans or casual fans. Where do you think the biggest challenge is to Motorsports media right now and when do you think your past driving experience is most valuable in bringing the best to fans?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think the key thing for us whether we’re talking to fans on the racetrack or out having dinner or at the gas station and especially on air is to sort of let them understand what it was like for us in the cockpit. That’s probably why I love the onboard cameras that we have. It takes the fan that is sitting at home watching it, it takes them into the driver’s seat as much as possible. Sometimes we’re able to use nose cams that we have, sometimes we’re able to use tail cams. I love all those shots because it puts us as a driver, both Eddie and I, back to where we were before. So we get the opportunity to share that with the folks at home. When I say that, what the car is doing, what it’s feeling like and what the driver is thinking, what he’s planning to do to get ahead of the person that’s in front of him. Or now if he’s in a situation where he’s saving fuel, what does he need to do, his strategy of trying to make it through the next fuel segment, and basically if the car’s not working. If they get on the radio and shout out if there’s understeer, oversteer or any of the terms that are coming along, I think it’s our duty to tell the fans at home and especially at the Indy 500. Because we are aware there are a lot of people watching the telecast on Sunday, that it might be the one and only race that they watch all year, just so they feel knowledgeable about it and they understand the terms that they don’t feel left out of the conversation, if you will, with us being on air.
EDDIE CHEEVER: I really just try to add to what you can see and what you can hear. Racing is very complicated, and Scott and I both have certain industry of the lessons that we learned throughout our racing that we can just deliver and maybe sometimes add a nuance to the TV screen that you cannot just see. It’s always nice to be able to project forward and tell somebody what you think is going to happen. When you get it right, it’s even fun sometimes. It is a very difficult job. I have to say at the end of one of these 500s when I’m done sitting in the booth, I’m almost as tired as I was when I was driving.
Q. – A.J. Foyt is driving the pace car, I believe, on the 50th anniversary of his first victory. I didn’t know if there is any way to sort of sum up what his place is, and sort of the pantheon of what Indy represents to you and what it represents, what he represents to racing on this sort of signature year for him?
EDDIE CHEEVER: I had the good fortune of driving against Foyt. And it was a bizarre situation because it was a driver that my father had talked about a lot when I was living in Europe. That was my connection to racing in the States. When you participate at Indy and you go to a place like Indy, there is a lot of downtime so you’re always hearing stories of the past and what other drivers have done. As a race car driver you want to absorb as many of these as you can. But in this particular event and I had raced everywhere else in the world, 90% of the stories, good or bad, were about Foyt. Now I think it’s great that he’s driving the pace car, because he does represent a period in American history where we came out of the second World War victorious, and we build up everything that we’ve built up in the States. And Foyt and many of the drivers of that era represented kind of what America was all about. So when you look at Foyt you’re actually looking at a segment of our history, and he personifies that so incredibly well. I think as a race car driver I believe, and this is obviously kind of like Monday quarterbacking. I believe that Foyt was the greatest American race car driver of all time because he ran his teams. He was as successful as he was at Indy. I’m not sure I got the number right, but I believe he qualified for Indy 36 or 37 times in a row. That is quite an accomplishment. To have won it four times is another great accomplishment.
When you talk about the Indianapolis 500, it’s almost logical, almost instinctive that the name Foyt comes up.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I remember watching A.J. Foyt when I was still racing my Formula Ford. And I went to a Formula Ford race over in Pocono, and they run in IndyCars at the Pocono Raceway. First chance for me to get to see them on the oval. You know, I snuck in the back of the pits there and watched A.J. The thing that amazed me is that he was old school, I guess, Eddie even said that. In the sense had a that he got out, stopped in the pit lane, got out and worked on his car, discussions with his crew members, got back in it and drove around and got back up in the racetrack. That was amazing to me. Following Formula 1 and the difference that the drivers have over there, but the way they seem to work or not work on their cars and everything of that nature, A.J. Foyt was somebody that really stood out for me. And I was very young at that time, racing Formula Fords for my teams. It was somebody I always watched and admired. I had never met him until I got involved in IndyCar Racing. So it was really an honor and a pleasure to see him. Today, for me, it’s A.J. Foyt and Mario, and guys like that, I mean, it’s I guess I’ll use an English term since we just had the royal wedding, it’s really like being around royalty.
They have a place in history, deservedly so, and I think that everybody should just really admire it forever. They are just a couple of tremendous individuals.
Q. – Eddie, you’ve run your own race team. What is your perspective of what’s going on with Andretti Autosport now? They had a disappointing qualifying, and obviously some inner turmoil on that team. What do you think’s happening and what do you see as the future for that team?
EDDIE CHEEVER: They’re up against some very tough competition. They’re the ones that everybody thinks is going to put the most pressure on Penske and Ganassi. I think they gave it their best shot, and it was kind of when Marty and I were sitting and watching qualifying. I turned to Marty and said this is like watching the Titanic sink. It was a slow, sinking process. When that happens in racing and you’ve really rolled your dice and the cars are not quick and you don’t have enough time to figure it out and all the team members start bickering, it becomes very complicated. I think it will be a difficult time for Andretti Autosports to pull out of it. I have no doubt that they will, it’s just a question of trying to understand what happened. This is a tough game. It’s a very tough sport. You have your up days and you have your down days. What I would have liked to have been is a fly on the wall when the Andretti clan got together and somebody came up with the idea of let’s go ask Foyt if he’ll sell us a car. I would have paid a hundred bucks to hear the first response to that one. It was a very good move, a brilliant move. So the Andrettis have played a very important part at the speedway, and I’m sure they’ll continue to do so. That’s just par for the course, days like that happen.
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