2009 IRL Reports: IMS Press Conferences

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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Postby mlittle » Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:01 am

Indy 500: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, top rookie press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1

Q: Dan and Danica, the last restart you got the great run, and then you had to hold her off instead of making a run on Helio. Did either of you have anything, if the circumstances didn't arise, if one of you had a clean line?

PATRICK: I don't know what Helio was doing. What speeds was he doing out front, does anybody know?

Q: 220s.

PATRICK: Oh, no. (Laughter)

I was doing 218 and a half, and I'm like, "Yeah, this is pretty good, flat-out without lifting." If he was doing 220 in the lead, I have a feeling I would have had the same thing to, say Dan did; he was pretty fast.

So, obviously, I felt like I had a pretty good run on Dan, and he went low, and I wish I would have went low before he got low because if it was side by side going into the corner with me on the inside, it would have worked, probably. But when you're side by side going into (Turn) 1 here, it's not likely because I wasn't sure if they had a chance to clean the top line into one. It's just got a good idea. It's not a two-lane track, really. Paul Tracy makes it a two-lane track out there, obviously. (Laughter)

I had the excitement of seeing him on many restarts at the beginning. The guy was amazing, passed three or four cars. So anyway, I don't know if he was doing 220s on his own, that's pretty stout.

Q: Yeah, up here. No. 1, congratulations, all of you, great, great race this afternoon. To all of you on the panel, just one quick question: What does the meaning of the 100-year anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway mean to you? If I could get a quick answer from three of you because this is extra special. Thank you.

WHELDON: Yeah, I think that's a nice question to ask. I think the value of what this race means to everybody is I think primarily based on the number of fans, but also the history and tradition. There's, I don't think, any greater -- I'm biased obviously, but there's no greater sporting event because of that. I think it makes it truly very special. I think when you consider the great names who have won this race, certainly coming second, third, fourth, fifth, whatever, it's a very, very tough event. Like I said, there's so much that goes into it that, you know, it makes it very special. But I think primarily, it's the fans that make this race. I really do when you consider how many there were today. I haven't seen it this busy since I've been an IndyCar driver. So I think that's a great kind of thing that's happening for the IndyCar Series, in general, right now. But it's an event that I'm very proud to be part of. I love it. I can't wait to come back next year.

PATRICK: You know, I think it's obviously pretty amazing, you know. I saw the book that a couple hundred people got at the event that happened a few months ago and just the people that helped create this and their successes both with this and so many other things. Obviously some brilliant minds had a part in this. And to keep, like Dan said, to keep to tradition, I just love the fact that the Pagoda still looks like it did in 1911. It still has the same sort of look. Just being run around the track all the time and being in the golf cart and seeing everything. I had my first chance to go on the golf course itself, and it's just spectacular. It's manicured so well. It's just a beautiful event. You know, when you look at how this has been around compared to like Daytona, the Daytona 500 is half the time, it's only about 50 years. So, I mean, double that, it's very -- what a success. Over all the years and transitions that culture makes, it still has stood there. Also, I would like to read the original bricks are still mostly underneath the track, so that's kind of cool.

TOWNSEND BELL: Yeah, Indianapolis is truly a special place. Mr. George told me one time that he felt that his responsibility was really as a steward, as a caretaker for the track going forward, that it was just sort of his turn to watch over this great place. That's how I feel. I think that the fact that the bricks reared its head this month during practice is kind of cool in a way. It's sort of barking out to us. When that happened, we walked out on the front straightaway because my teammate was one of the guys that hit the loose bricks. And you stand there and think, wow, these guys were super brave back in the day to be running around the Brickyard. To think what an absolutely beautifully smooth, well manicured, well maintained facility it is today is so cool. I'm always -- I feel so privileged to be part of this event every year.

Q: Dan, I know throughout the month the car wasn't necessarily ideal, that you worked, worked, worked toward it. Compare maybe even to your win, was what you did today the amount of work, the extra whatever you had to do because the car perhaps didn't start out, you know, exactly in the ideal position, if you could just talk about your drive.

WHELDON: Yeah, it was relatively non-eventful. I didn't get into too many close calls. Like I say, I thought the guys did an absolute phenomenal job in the pits. It's so important even with, you know, we didn't qualify as well as we would have liked, and that puts you in a difficult position in terms of your pit position. You know, with that said, they were still able to make me up a lot of spots each time. Actually to be fair to Townsend, I think he must have overtaken me about five times this race, but every time I came into the pits the guys put me back in front of him.

But I would have to say we did, I think there's nothing more that we could have done in this race. I was, you know, still fighting a little bit of an imbalance in the race car, but I think everybody was. It was difficult conditions out there. Actually one of the races that I think we did execute perfectly on was back in 2005 and, you know, I would say this is exactly the same. It's just unfortunately the result wasn't there, but I'm going to be -- I'm not going to give up on this place until I win again, that's for sure.

SULLIVAN: Here's what we've got, we've got one back here and two here, four more questions.

Q: Dan, can you just talk a little bit about how other drivers' views of Danica have kind of changed from 2005 until now as she continues to do top ten and things like that? (Laughter)

WHELDON: Can we do it when she's not here? (Laughter)

PATRICK: You have to be nice now.

WHELDON: It's funny, actually, because everybody thinks we don't get along. I would say we've always got along very well other than Milwaukee, and we cleared that up pretty quickly. She can get feisty every now and then, but so can I.

But I obviously was starting my career in Europe, and I know Danica went over there and, you know, from the time she was over there she's driven for people that I've driven for before, and I'm not just saying it because she's here, she's always been somebody that I've respected. There's actually a very big race in England called the Formula Ford Festival, which is kind of like a young, crazy version of the Indianapolis 500, and she did very well there, and that's an incredibly tough event. But I've always thought that she can do the job, that she's certainly -- I don't treat her like, you know, a female on the racetrack. She's just a formidable competitor that doesn't give up. I wish she perhaps would have today because I was sweating with how loose I was because I didn't turn the car. But she's an IndyCar winner and, you know, to win IndyCar races nowadays is incredibly difficult, and anybody that's an IndyCar winner in my book, it doesn't matter what they look like, what their gender is, they're somebody I'll respect immensely.

Q: Dan, we talked last Sunday and we asked what your chances were, and you didn't think very highly of your chances, so what changed?

WHELDON: No, that's not true. I didn't think, you know, that my car at the time was good enough to win. You know, I have to say that the team just worked incredibly hard. I was able to give a clear and concise rundown of what the car was doing; it was just a matter of being able to fix it. From the other teams that I've been to, they've got some different programs that can perhaps give you answers a little bit more quickly. We're getting to that point, but I would have to say we're still a little bit behind.

But with all the guys at Panther Racing, they really don't give up. I think, obviously, my association with the National Guard, I can see where John Barnes gets it because a lot of the soldiers that we meet, they're phenomenal people. Male or female, they've got that never-say-die attitude. It certainly humbles me and inspires me and I think has actually matured me, believe it or not. It was one of those things where we kept working very, very hard and came up with something on Carburetion Day and we just kind of evolved that.

But to answer your question simply, it was just never giving up and being controlled with the changes and disciplined with the changes that we make to get an avenue that's worth pursuing.

Q: Danica, you said that having Paul Tracy around is always very exciting. Can you get a little more into that, please.

PATRICK: I can't get into what's going through his head, that's for sure. But no, he's very good out there. He's very good out there, he makes things happen, you know. He doesn't wait around for things to happen. He makes them happen. He had amazing restarts, and he was passing guys. He was going on the outside around a lot of cars, and he did it to me. And I went into (Turn) 1 and side by side and side by side through (Turn) 2. He was hanging it out there. So, you know, a guy like that, you know, another tough competitor, you're glad he's not around all the time because he's really good.

But I respect PT, he's a driver that I used to watch when I was younger and coming up the ranks and always used to think, "Wow, my God, if I'm ever that fast, you know." So, you know, to be out there running with people like that is really cool for me.

SULLIVAN: Listen, folks, we've got one more question, and then I conned Townsend into sticking around because I believe we should talk to Townsend about the incredible run we've had, as well.

Q: That's my question to Townsend. Townsend, I think in the very early part and after your first pit stop you lost a lot of positions, eight or nine very early, 20, 22 laps, and then you stormed back with this great result. Do you think that it's maybe a restart for your career in open-wheel racing or you've become hungry to do more races?

BELL: My career seems to have been a series of starts and restarts for six years. But doesn't matter, this was a great day for us. We did have some problems, I don't know what happened on the first pit stop. The fuel wasn't going in, or something, so we had to go to the back. We had a good start, stayed out of trouble, got up to 12th or something, I think, before the first pit stop and then had to go to the back and fight our way back up. It was fun. This was a great race team. This KV Team deserves to be in the top five at the Indy 500. They worked tremendously hard. We've got a great sponsor in Herbalife. Those guys are pretty fired up, as you can imagine. I had a blast out there. It seems, strangely enough, that the diciest racing I had was with Paul Tracy. Twice I kind of bobbled it a bit on a restart, and I would just go straight for the inside because I wasn't going to give him an inch there. And he went to the outside and, man, we went through (Turn) 1 side by side. I didn't lift; he didn't lift. I know we're teammates, but we've become such good friends the last year or so that it's like playing a video game with your buddy. You're just like no way am I going to give up.

Happened going into (Turn) 3, also. I kind of knew where his setup was on his car, was a little different than what I was running, I thought I would be a little quicker on longer runs and I didn't want to get caught behind him. I'm glad I stuck with it. We left each other room, but there were good times.

SULLIVAN: Questions for Townsend?

Q: Townsend, with this good finish, do you feel that maybe you do have a shot to run, even if it's the road courses, maybe a lot more races a season because it would be great to see you back in the series?

BELL: You're only as good as your last race, that's what they say, right? So we'll see. I've been doing it long enough to not plan or feel like I deserve anything, you just work hard and hope that things turn out. It was fun, you know. There at the end I'm running, Dan Wheldon and I raced in Indy Lights, and Scott Dixon I think was behind me, and Danica I've known for a while, and these are people I know I can compete with in equal equipment. I'm just thrilled that I had the chance to do that today.

Q: Townsend, follow up on that on the equal equipment side of that. How do you feel, you and Paul pretty much shared crews to get qualified and you guys both wound up in the top 10?

BELL: We definitely get the trophy for making the most of what we had. Paul qualified the first weekend and I took his crew for the second week to get into the show and then, you know, we cobbled together the crew for the stops. I've got to thank my engineer, Gerald Tyler, who, by the way, I won the Indy Lights championship with Gerald. Been trying to figure out a way for years to work with him again and he came in the last minute to help out.

What happened, after Mario, I don't know what happened to him at the start, but obviously he hit something big, what they did was actually took his crew, which are the full-time, full-season KV guys that work together all the time and they moved some or most of those guys to my car. I haven't even had a chance to ask. But that made a big difference. The only bummer for us was because we qualified second week, we were way down at the end of the pit lane. I mean, damn near the end. So what happens, of course, is we had great stops but I pop out, I've got to go all the way down pit lane and give everybody in front of me a chance to pull out and block. Danica, bless her, but her rear was a little wide on pit lane, and I mean that in the nicest way. (Laughter)

They know what they're doing and when they throw their car out of the pits and you swing your right rear out into the high line, Wheldon did the same thing. I have to lift. I'm either going to punt them, which is not good for anybody, and when you lift, that's it: You're going to lose a spot.

As Dan said, it was a little frustrating at the end to know you were ahead of a couple of cars, but hey, all in all, it was a great month for us.

SULLIVAN: Other questions?

Q: Let me follow up on the KV part of it. They're a new team to the series. They made huge strides. How did you come to be racing with them, and what do you think of doing that much that quickly?

BELL: Well, my first race in the big cars as I say when I was a CART rookie, was 2001. It was Lausitzring, and it was kind of a last-second deal, crazy circumstances. Another story for another time. But I showed up as a third driver with Patrick Racing. My teammate was Jimmy Vasser. And I signed a contract to race in 2002 thinking Jimmy was going to be my teammate. It didn't happen. I ended up as a rookie on a one-car team. The bummer was Jimmy had a great reputation as an excellent teammate. He helped Juan (Pablo Montoya), and he helped (Alex) Zanardi. I was really looking forward to that. So to finally have an opportunity eight, nine years later to work with Jimmy is just awesome. Also Kevin Kalkhoven, I cold-called Kevin Kalkhoven eight years ago and asked him to help me get in Formula One. He's an incredible guy. I've known him since then. So to have a chance to race with those guys is just great.

SULLIVAN: Townsend, thank you for coming in. Congratulations on a great run.

BELL: Thanks. Appreciate it.
The Sci-Fi Station Come by and visit when you get the chance. :)
The Wayward Tarheel I'm even in the blogosphere.... :shock:

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Postby mlittle » Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:45 am

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jeff Belskus and Joie Chitwood Press Conference Transcript

MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us this afternoon. My name is Ron Green, and I'm the director of public relations here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Joining us this afternoon is Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and COO Joie Chitwood and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation CEO and new president Jeff Belskus. Gentleman, thanks for joining us today. It's a bittersweet day here at the Speedway. First, we are losing a very good leader, senior member of management, in Joie Chitwood's resignation yesterday. But also it's a relief for many of us who don't have to listen to the successes of Urban Meyer and the University of Florida football team, which we do get tired of listening to every fall. No, seriously, we are here to discuss Joie's announcement yesterday of his resignation and heading back to his home state of Florida. We're also here to introduce Jeff Belskus to the media. He was recently named to his new position. He has been a frequent interview request by the media, but because of scheduling, we haven't been able to offer that, so we're also taking advantage of this day to offer Jeff up to the media, as well. Let's talk a little bit about Jeff real fast before we get started. Jeff joined the company in 1987. He has served in various capacities. He has been the treasurer, the CFO, most recently executive vice president and CFO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation. He is an Indiana State graduate with honors. Most recently he received and honorary doctorate degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute. We're going to start with Jeff today as he has a few comments to make, and then we'll turn to Joie.

JEFF BELSKUS: Well thanks for the introduction, Ron. I'm glad for the opportunity to talk with you today, and I'm looking forward to getting to know you more as I settle into my role as CEO. I appreciate the confidence that the board of directors has placed in me. Most of my working career has been here at the Speedway, and it's where I plan to spend my career. I want to congratulate Joie on the fine job that he has done and wish him well. I've worked with Joie in one capacity or another since 1996, and I certainly appreciate the contributions he has made and the leadership he has shown.

I want to assure you that we have a strong leadership team in place with many years of experience. I was walking around the building today, and I think we have an average of 15 or more years of experience for our leadership team. We have many challenges, but we also have many, many opportunities. I'm quite excited about the future. I'm proud to be in charge of the greatest racetrack in the world. It's an important part of this city, this state, this nation. We have three great events here, and our future is bright.

The challenges, the economic situation is challenging for all of us, but we're better positioned than most to deal with it. A good case in point is this past running of the Indianapolis 500 was a very strong performance. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and the MotoGP are looking better than we thought they might a few months ago, and things are continuing to improve for us. I'm pleased to be here today, and I'm excited about the future. With that, I'll turn it back to Ron.

MODERATOR: Before we turn it over to Joie, I've been with the company now just about 11 years, and Jeff is very much a behind-the-scenes individual. But I can truly say that he has been a presence in just about every major decision that I have been a part of, and we have great confidence in his leadership. I'm looking forward to working with him. Joie, let's turn it over to you for a couple of comments.

JOIE CHITWOOD: Thanks, Ron, thank you, Jeff, for those kind words. I appreciate it. It's a challenge sitting here today to talk about resigning. When I think back to all the great experiences here, whether it was creating Walt Disney World Speedway and carrying TV's up the grandstands to put in Race Control or creating a sanctioning body after USAC departed after the Texas race and we had to come up with a rules package by the Colorado race, going up to Chicago and working for a partnership between ISC and IMS and to build Chicagoland Speedway, to come back to the Speedway 6 1/2 years ago as a senior VP and then be promoted to president, it's been a heck of a ride. There's been a lot of challenges along the way. Formula One seemed to provide most of those challenges. But it's been a very rich and fulfilling experience -- one that I will cherish and remember for as long as I live. I told Jeff as we got through this process and talked about the transition, there's great history out there for me personally. My grandfather raced her and finished fifth three times. He's credited as being the first man to wear a seatbelt in the Indy 500. I've got to play an important role in some of the great things we've done here at the Speedway, and I hope to come back with my son and my grandson and my family and share those experiences with them. So it is a bit of a challenge leaving that, but I leave with great memories and I'm proud of what the team has really done. I will tell you that standing in pit lane last year as the motorcycles roared down the racetrack was just a great way to encapsulize everything we've done. To think about an event, to create that whole activity around it and to see it come to fruition was pretty special so with that, I will tell you that to go back to Florida for my family and I is a big deal. I was born and raised there. My wife and I both attended the University of Florida. Both sets of relatives are there. The chance to be closer to them is really important at this stage of our lives, and I think life is about a journey. This is what it is. For me, it's the next opportunity, and I look forward to the challenge it's going to present. But I will tell you that I am well-prepared for it. The things that we did here, I don't think there's anything that I'll be surprised with, and I'm looking forward to what that next set of challenges will be.

MODERATOR: Thank you Joie. Also, just a reminder of why we're here today. We're really focusing on the Speedway and the leadership of the near future of the Speedway and Joie's departure. This is not a state-of-the-company address by Jeff. So feel free to ask anything you wish, but he might not yet be prepared to answer certain questions on certain departments of the company.

Q: Jeff, what is your grand vision for the Speedway and the Indianapolis 500?

BELSKUS: The Speedway has a proud history and tradition and is the finest racetrack in the world, the greatest racetrack in the world, and I hope we can continue that and continue to build our events. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is this week and should be another great race for us. Knock on wood, I think NASCAR and Goodyear have their tire issues worked out. Hopefully, we can meet and exceed our fans' expectations with that event and all of our events here.

MODERATOR: Joie, do you want to elaborate on this weekend's race? I know you worked very closely with NASCAR and Goodyear.

CHITWOOD: I think I still hear NACAR cars testing. We tested so many times this year, and I was privy to each and every one. In fact, Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton were here for one of the last tests, and with a green racetrack they went out and ran 26 to 30 laps on a set of tires. So we feel really comfortable that they put the right effort in to the tire situation and that our fans will enjoy the competition. That's the goal. I have to applaud their effort because they realized that last year's event didn't meet anyone's expectations. So, if weather cooperates, I expect that we'll do fine this weekend.

Q: Jeff, could you give your thoughts on the relationship between the Indy Racing League and the Speedway and maybe discuss your role in guiding those two entities?

BELSKUS: Well, they're extremely important to one another and dependant on one another. We're hopeful that the League can continue to grow and we can continue to develop it and that it will help us with the Indianapolis 500 in terms of our show. We've had a couple of great races here the last couple of years. We need the IndyCar Series to be strong. Conversely, the IndyCar Series needs a strong Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We're all in this together. The Hulman-George family has made a huge investment in open-wheel racing, and they intend to continue to pursue that and continue to try and grow it.

Q: Jeff, Joie and his people have started the Centennial Era and that's going to fall into your lap. How do you see expanding on it, and what are your thoughts on things that are coming here when we get to 2011 to really knock 'em dead?

BELSKUS: I know that Joie and his team have done a lot of good work in that regard, and we have a lot of plans in place. Of course, it did get under way this year. We're going to continue to celebrate out 100 years -- the 100-year building of the track, a hundred years since the first running of the "500" and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Those are important events, and we're going to continue to try to celebrate those milestones.

Q: Jeff, coming out of Indiana State and Terre Haute, of course you knew about the family and everything, but what attracted you to come to work to the Speedway rather than some other venue?

BELSKUS: Well this is an interesting place Just look at the last 30 days and what we've gone through. This probably has got to be one of the best jobs in sports, and it's a great facility and a great place, and we put on good events and big events. Who wouldn't want to work in this environment?

Q: Jeff, what in your mind are the most pressing issues regarding the Indianapolis 500, specifically the way the schedule is set up right now?

BELSKUS: We need to continue to put on a good show for our fans. We're economically challenged like so many businesses are today. We continue to deal with those headwinds, so we hope to be able to continue to put on a good show. We hope the race teams can stay strong. We need strong teams. We need committed sponsors. So, there's certainly a revenue aspect to what we're doing. From a management perspective, we're like so many businesses. We need to manage our expenses and manage our costs and, again, doing so in a way that continues to provide the best show that we can provide.

MODERATOR: Joie, you worked closely with the IndyCar Series in crafting the schedule for the last couple of years. Any follow-up to that, as well?

CHITWOOD: Well, there's always a balance between on-track product and the cost of competition and miles equals dollars. So, as Jeff will continue through this transition to work with the IndyCar Series about the amount of laps they put on, that's the challenge. I think that we've done some fantastic things with the month of May. The moving of Carburetion Day to Friday has been a really strong boost to the weekend. You know, our infield GA was as big as I've ever seen it this year. So, I think the key is that they continue to promote all of the great things about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, specifically the Indianapolis 500. But, I think you can look from the last couple of years, the improvements that have been made and the fan response has been so positive.

Q: Are you inclined to shorten the month of May at all?

BELSKUS: You know, that's something that we haven't decided, and I really don't have an opinion about that today. We need to continue to evaluate the situation, and I'm going work with Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt on the schedule as we move ahead.

Q: Not that I'm pushing Joie out the door any quicker than he's already leaving, but have you thought about a replacement for Joie or are you acting as president right now of the Speedway? My other question is if your head is still spinning over the last month with what's gone on with your life?

BELSKUS: Yes, my head is still spinning. But for now, I am assuming the duties of president, the role of president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We had a little bit of confusion in terms of the way we're structured. We have the Speedway Corporation and Speedway, LLC. I'll now be president of both, so hopefully that will eliminate some of that confusion. We are not planning an active search to replace Joie at this time. We're trying to leave our options open, and we'll cross that bridge as we come to it.

Q: The differences between the two of you are pretty apparent to most of us. Joie comes from a promotions background. He's a promoter by definition, and you're a financial background. Do you think you bring a different perspective on things and are you under any directive to really tighten things up efficiently and make them more efficient financially?

BELSKUS: I'm sure I bring a different perspective than Joie does. We're all different people. We have a strong team in place, and all of our people bring a lot of different talents to the table and we hope to continue to be able to leverage that. That's one of the very good things Joie has done in terms of developing a good team. We all feel pressure to bring results and, yes, Joie has been under pressure to deliver results. We're doing the best we can given this economic situation we find ourselves in, and actually we are doing quite well. We feel like we're well positioned for the future, and the future is very bright in that regard.

CHITWOOD: Jeff, I'd like to jump in. Actually, Jeff and I have known each other since 1996 and a lot of the big decisions that have been made, Jeff has been sitting at the table and it all revolves around finances, and I think there's one thing that Jeff and I share and that's the ability to talk numbers at length and in depth. So, I think that's one of the strong things that has been great in our relationship. Maybe more so than others that we can talk numbers with each other and really know where things are, so that's really been a strong thing in our relationship over many years.

Q: Joie, would you be leaving now if not for the events of the last 30 days?

CHITWOOD: You know, I don't think really the events of the last 30 days factor into this at all. When you start thinking about life decisions, that's not something you do at the drop of a hat or something that happens within 30 days. Sometime in the springtime, in fact, I think Jeff and I might have had a small talk about it -- nothing substantial - but I started to figure out if I needed to figure out what was next in my life. I still think I'm a young man, kind of. My son doesn't think that anymore. I think I'm kind of over the hill now, but at 40 years old I feel like I've accomplished a lot in my career, and I think it's only natural at some point you start to ask the question: "Is there something else? What is next?" Having been born and raised in Florida and now spending 13 1/2 great years in the Midwest with the wonderful winters, who knew that I would get a chance to go back to Florida? So I don't think the last 30 days really had any real factor in this decision. It was a much bigger decision than just that.

Q: Joie, to see you leave is a great shock to the Speedway.

CHITWOOD: Thanks. Understand this: This property has been here for 100 years, it will be here for another 100 years. If anything, I am a small part of the team here. There's no way that I'm out there selling the tickets, selling the sponsorships. We have a good team in place. At the end of the day, I was a caretaker of this property for 6 1/2 years, and I'm ecstatic that we have a transition in which Jeff gets to play that role. I think he's going to enjoy it immensely. It is a fantastic position, and I think he's going to do well. I've offered any assistance I can in the future. But understand this: I was a small part of this team effort, and a lot of folks really work hard to make all of these things happen the way they do.

Q: If you could address, is there any talk of altering the start time of the Indy 500? What thoughts do you have on that? Relative to the MotoGP race and the future of that.

BELSKUS: I haven't given any thought to the start time of the Indianapolis 500. No to that question. The MotoGP race, we're in the second year of a three-year deal. We need to see how this year goes. The first year, of course, we had all kinds of weather issues that I don't think allowed that event to show its true colors. Hopefully this year we'll have better weather and another great event.

Q: Does it concern you that Joie is going to a company that could be perceived as a rival to the Speedway or does that perhaps present an advantage in terms of crafting the IRL's schedule?

BELSKUS: I hope it's an advantage. I know we have a friend in Joie Chitwood. I'm sure Joie is going to make the decisions he needs to make to be successful at International Speedway Corporation, and we're going to continue to try and make the decisions we feel like we need to make here to be successful on this end. I know we have a friend in Joie, and hopefully we can continue a good relationship into the future.
The Sci-Fi Station Come by and visit when you get the chance. :)
The Wayward Tarheel I'm even in the blogosphere.... :shock:


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