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October 29, 2014

Larry Foyt

A.J. Foyt

Jack Hawksworth

Takuma Sato

THE MODERATOR:  Welcome, everyone, to today's IndyCar conference call.  Earlier today A.J. Foyt Racing made the announcement it will expand to two full-time cars for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series with backing from its long time primary sponsor ABC Supply Company. 
Rising star Jack Hawksworth will drive the No. 41 ABC Supply Company Honda alongside returning driver Takuma Sato in the familiar No. 14 ABC Supply Company Honda. 
We're pleased to be joined today by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, the owner of A.J. Foyt Racing, Larry Foyt, the managing director of the team, Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth. 
A.J., congratulations on today's announcement, which is part of a busy off-season for your team.  In addition to today's announcement about the second car, you announced you renewed your partnership with ABC Supply Company and brought on Jack Hawksworth as a driver.  How special are days like today for your team? 
A.J. FOYT:  I think it's special for Larry, the whole team, everybody.  Everybody is happy.  We never did want to run two cars unless we could run them the proper way and have the proper financing. 
ABC stepped up and decided it was time for us to run two cars.  We've been with them for 10 years.  We go through 2016, which is great.  They have been a great supporter.  We're really looking forward to next year's start. 
THE MODERATOR:  When it came time to find a driver for the second car, what attracted you to Jack Hawksworth? 
A.J. FOYT:  Well, we watched him race last year.  Sato, he watched him race, and he thought he was very good.  Was all in agreement.  He's 23 years old.  Then the engineer is a young boy. 
With a second car, we got to call our second car the young gun.  Both are our main cars, but I think the two guys can get along good together.  They've been getting along good today.  I think they can race together and I think either one of them can win. 
THE MODERATOR:  Larry, your goal for this team has been an expanded two-car effort.  It's been since 2002 that the team has run two full-time cars.  What makes now the right time to expand? 
LARRY FOYT:  You have to have the support of sponsorship really is what it boils down to at the end of the day.  It takes a lot of money and good sponsors to race in the IndyCar Series. 
We really felt that two cars was the next step for us as a race team to be competitive week in and week out.  We just presented that to ABC Supply, they agreed with us, saw our vision, wanted to be a part of it.  That's really how it all happened. 
THE MODERATOR:  A.J. just mentioned the engineer being a young guy, Raul Prados.  Talk about bringing up a new engineer and having a race engineer slot for him and what he'll bring to the team with Jack? 
LARRY FOYT:  Well, Raul kind of took a step back to come over here, come racing in America.  It was a big goal of his.  He was a lead engineer over in Europe on CP2 cars, other open-wheel cars that are similar to IndyCars. 
I think with him, he's brought over some of his knowledge from European racing, putting that with a veteran like Don Halliday, he learned a lot about the IndyCar Series the past two years working under Don.  I think he's ready for the step up.  He made a big commitment to the team here relocating to Texas.  We wanted to give him a shot to show what he could do. 
THE MODERATOR:  Takuma, you'll be returning to A.J. Foyt's team for a third season.  What kind of confidence does that give you heading in with a little bit of continuity knowing the guys? 
TAKUMA SATO:  First of all, I'm really, really proud of the team.  Last two season we worked really closely.  This is a team that we can go achieve what we want together.  It was continuous working last two seasons.  Now it's going to the third season straight in.  That's building more confidence with our environment.  Particularly this year it's going to a new project with a two-car team, which we always wanted.  It's going to be a boosting up because now there's very limited for the track time in practice. 
With a two-car team, it is doubled up.  Jack and I working closely together, we'll try to raise the whole team.  That's ultimately what we wanted. 
THE MODERATOR:  Do you prefer to have a full-time teammate and a younger guy like Jack who is hungry to be quick and run up front? 
TAKUMA SATO:  Yeah, absolutely.  As A.J. told, we were watching all the field.  Jack is always one of the very talented young drivers.  He showed tremendous speed in the IndyCar.  We all agreed that he's the guy to be welcome.  That's ultimately Larry's decision, but I totally agree with it. 
Jack and I wasn't necessarily racing together in '14, but we get on really close on track, off track as well.  Today we working the whole day, the first time as the teammates. 
I'm really, really looking forward to working with him.  That's a perfect combination for the team I think. 
THE MODERATOR:  Jack, congratulations on today's announcement.  I'm sure growing up in England, in your time here in America, you've heard a lot about A.J. Foyt.  What is it like to be employed by A.J. Foyt? 
JACK HAWKSWORTH:  Yeah, it's awesome.  It really is a dream come true for me to be signed to race for A.J. Foyt next year.  Such a good group of people that they've got here.  Only been to the shop a few times, but I already feel like I have a good relationship with all the guys down here. 
First of all, thanks to Larry, ABC Supply, and A.J., for trusting in me, putting their faith in me for next year.  I'm really optimistic and positive.  Yeah, over the moon really that this deal got done.  I'm very excited to get started now. 
THE MODERATOR:  Can you talk a little bit about how the deal got done.  Hasn't been a lot of time since the season ended until today when you're announcing your new team. 
JACK HAWKSWORTH:  We started to speak towards the end of the season.  Once it became apparent there might be an opportunity, this is the place I wanted to be immediately. 
I came down to meet Larry and the guys in September.  Having spent the day here, I knew this is where I wanted to be, a program I really believe in.  It just really excited me. 
After that, I pestered my manager as much as possible to try to get the deal done.  Yeah, fortunately it happened.  I really couldn't be any happier. 
THE MODERATOR:  Let's open it up to questions for any of our guests today. 

Q.  What is surprising when you look at your team as a real American IndyCar team, it's surprising that in the past you have employed mostly non-American drivers, foreign drivers.  Why is that?  Are you following closely what's going on over in Europe in open-wheel racing, especially when you mentioned earlier that you now have an engineer from GP2 working as a full-time engineer in your IndyCar team?  Why is that?  Why, for example, did you not look to Indy Lights and choose a driver from there? 
LARRY FOYT:  To be honest, at the time our decision I made not necessarily by someone's nationality but who we felt at the time could get in and do the job best as we needed. 
With ABC stepping up and being the sponsor on the second car, we wanted a guy with at least a year's experience in IndyCar.  It was important to us that he'd been to all the racetracks. 
There are some good, talented rookies out there.  We've been fortunate to work with some of them.  We ran a young American, Conor Daly, at Indianapolis. 
For us it was important that the guy was ready to hit the ground running in our second program.  Jack fit that bill.  We just felt like he was the guy closest, ready to win races. 
It was more not about nationality but who we thought was ready to go out and win races for the team. 

Q.  A.J., you turn 80 in January.  Is this a sign you're just getting warmed up? 
A.J. FOYT:  Well, I guess so.  I was thinking about coming out of retirement.  But my wife told me, You're turning 80 years old in January, all you'd be doing is holding up the field.  I kind of agreed with her. 

Q.  Honda has lost one team with Sarah Fisher merging with Ed Carpenter.  That's going to be a Chevrolet team.  What is your outlook right now working with Honda?  You had a long arrangement with Honda.  How do you see them being able to get back into the game?  They won the Indianapolis 500.  The numbers don't really add up for them really well for 2015.  How do you see them getting back into being a very good supplier? 
A.J. FOYT:  Well, one thing about Honda, as a Honda car dealership at one time, they don't play this racing game to stay behind.  I know General Motors, they've got some great engineers, but so does Honda. 
They come back awful strong last year.  Fortunately enough they won the biggest race in the world, as far as I'm concerned.  There's no reason why they can't win it again. 
I mean, they come back strong last year.  In 2013, they were hurting a little bit.  They came back alive.  I think you're going to see them that much stronger this year.  If they do, we'll be on an equal basis.  It's going to be up to the engineer, driver, chief mechanic.  I think we got a good shot at Chevrolet this year. 

Q.  Do you see the Honda aero kit as a possible game changer?
A.J. FOYT:  That's something that nobody knows yet.  I know they've worked awful hard on it.  I know Chevrolet's worked awful hard. 
Just going to have to wait and see what comes up. 

Q.  You recently bought that new building in Indianapolis.  Are you looking at that as just a summer home or is that something that you would maintain with sort of a skeleton crew?  Will there be a presence there year-round? 
LARRY FOYT:  I think we're going to have to see how it plays out.  We definitely wanted a presence in Speedway, Indiana.  I think it's a great place for us to have a presence.  Our goal is to run both cars out of our home base, which is here in Texas.  It will remain our home base. 
As you know how condensed the IndyCar schedule is, there's a good chance we'll be working out some of the summer in Indianapolis.  But for now, Texas will still be our home base. 

Q.  You've always said that Indianapolis was a second home for you.  Does that feel different every time you pull up here?  Larry, can you see that change in A.J. when he's here in Indianapolis? 
A.J. FOYT:  Actually I spent probably as much time racing my whole life in Indianapolis as I have in Texas.  I was always back and forth. 
My hometown, I was born and raced here in Texas.  I raced at Playland.  Had lot of fist fights in modifieds and stock cars here. 
Texas has been my home.  Indianapolis I'd have to say is my second home.  Indianapolis is what made A.J. Foyt what he is today.  I always loved being up there.  Like I say, I spent many years up there.  That will be our second base.  Then we'll also have a Foyt wine tasting room there in the race shop.  We're looking forward to having a lot of fun up there. 
LARRY FOYT:  Yeah, even when I get off the plane in Indianapolis, it does feel like a second home.  I haven't spent a fraction of the time that my father has there.  It's such a special place for my family there.  Some of my greatest memories in racing are being a kid, waking up at the Speedway Motel right across from the track, waiting for dad to walk over, hearing the people cheer for him as we went over down to the garage area.  Those memories are why I wanted to be in auto racing. 
Indianapolis is such a special place for us.  We've got family there now with Anthony, Mary and Casey Irsay being based out of Indy.  It is like a second home. 
Like my dad said, we're going to have a lot of fun with the new property, have a wine shop, a lot of neat things.  It's great to have a presence there.  Texas will always be home, but Indy is our second home. 

Q.  A.J., with all your great innate and learned skills, what's the most important advice you would like to share with your two good drivers there when the 2015 season starts? 
A.J. FOYT:  What I like to share with them?  I want them to run as hard as they possibly can.  I want them to race each other the best they can, and may the best man win.  Just don't take each other out. 
I think that's the biggest thing.  I think we got two boys that can be up on the front most of the time.  We're really looking forward to having a big year and a lot of fun. 
The way I look at racing, if you can't have a lot of fun in racing, you shouldn't be in it.  I still look at it you always want to win but you also have a lot of fun.  That's the way I look at a two-car team.  I want them to run each other as hard as they can, but don't take each other out. 
There will be a day when one of them will be a little better than the other one, and that's why they call it racing. 

Q.  Takuma, last year you had some really good results.  Now you're going into this year with the advantage of a two-car team.  Talk about bringing a little momentum into a new situation. 
TAKUMA SATO:  Absolutely.  When I joined the team, the team already had tremendous potential.  We showed good speed.  Of course, Long Beach winning was absolutely fantastic.  Since then we kept pushing as hard as we could. 
But 2014 was a little bit unlucky season for us.  We show a few good speed, a couple pole position.  Every time in very difficult circumstances we hit some unfortunate.  But we kept a good momentum.  We never lost the motivation.  All the crew and engineers, we all worked together very, very closely. 
Now we have a great opportunity running two cars.  Track time is very limited.  Even more crucial for 2015 is less private testing days, as well as we will have a new aero package, which is another category that we will have to deal with. 
Instead of a one-car team, I think a two-car team will bring (indiscernible) and twice as much data that we need and the engineers need.  Like A.J. said, Jack and I, we'll drive as hard as possible. 
What I see is everything is positive.  This team is really growing up.  I'm very pleased to be part of it in 2015 again. 

Q.  Jack, talk a little bit about the fun that A.J. just described. 
JACK HAWKSWORTH:  Well, I mean, I think that's ultimately auto racing.  Like A.J. said, you always want to win, but what we do is fun.  Only a very, very small percentage of people ever get to drive racing cars at 200 miles an hour.  It's an awesome thing to be able to do.  It's a hell of a lot of fun. 
I think that sometimes, you know, obviously it's a very serious business, but sometimes you have to remember the reason you do it is because you love racing, whether it be racing a go-kart, a bike, a car, whatever.  We all love racing. 
I just think it's important to remember that.  Definitely it will be fun because we're doing what we love. 

Q.  Jack, obviously this two-car program is going to be different from what you experienced last year.  You have a very experienced teammate by your side.  How important is it to have a guy like Takuma be a sounding board for you as you continue to progress as an IndyCar driver?
JACK HAWKSWORTH:  I mean, I think it's fantastic to be on a two-car team.  It's fantastic to have Takuma as a teammate.  He's clearly very fast, technically very good.  Obviously we've not worked together yet.  But it will be interesting when we test to see how our driving styles compare, to see if we want similar things in the car, which I hope we will. 
We're going to get twice as much telemetry, twice as much data than if it was a single-car team.  I only see good things from it.  Really looking forward to working with Takuma. 
I think we'll just push each other along.  I think that the team, as well, will grow.  Yeah, I mean, the thing at the moment, with these race weekends, the ovals, the street and road courses, there's so little practice time.  If you have two cars out there running, you can try different things, different approaches in the practice sessions.  Hopefully at the end of the day you put all of that together from both cars, then you take a significant step forward.  I mean, hopefully it will work like that. 

Q.  Have you met up with Raul, your engineer, to get a sense of what you have in mind for the upcoming season? 
JACK HAWKSWORTH:  Yeah, I meet Raul a few times.  We've been in contact.  It's early days.  But it was quite clear immediately we had a good chemistry, a good connection.  I think once we get testing and he's able to I guess understand what I want from the car, hopefully I can give him the right information, hopefully once we get into the season, we're all singing off the same hymn sheet and we can go kick some ass. 

Q.  Larry, the IndyCar Series is going to be releasing the 2015 schedule tomorrow.  Do you start thinking about off-season testing around that time, knowing where the series is going to be going in the near future? 
LARRY FOYT:  Well, absolutely.  We'll be looking at a lot of different things, from schedule, to what's going on with Honda, all the new stuff as far as aero kits, all that exciting stuff. 
Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of things.  It's great that we're all here down at the shop, making the plans to get testing.  We're excited to get this season already off and going and get Jack in a car, him and Raul working together. 
There's a lot.  I'm excited for the schedule to come out because it will definitely influence our decisions as we try to think what will be the best places to go to test.  It will be good that the IndyCar schedule is coming out.  It will help us make some plans. 

Q.  Jack, we all know that Takuma has that no risk, no reward philosophy.  Do you share that kind of philosophy? 
JACK HAWKSWORTH:  Yeah, I think so.  That's what we're in it for, right?  We're in it to win.  Takuma is going to go flat out and try and win, and so am I.  That's what the whole team's here to do.  We're here to win, to give 120%.  If on the day that's enough, fantastic.  If not, we'll keep trying.  I think that's the only way to go racing really. 

Q.  A.J., what kind of advice are you going to give to two guys who want to hang it out every race?
A.J. FOYT:  Just keep hanging it out.  That's the only way you're going to win. 

Q.  A.J., you normally run a second car at Indianapolis.  Does this mean that you'll run a third car now that you have two full-time drivers? 
A.J. FOYT:  No.  Now that I have two full-time, we'll give them 100%.  It would be hard to run three cars.  I'm not a Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske or Mario Andretti.  My name is A.J. Foyt.  We're going to run what we feel we can run the best with.  We're happy with two drivers.  We're not looking for a third one. 

Q.  Larry, I assume you haven't been on the track with a car since Fontana?
LARRY FOYT:  No, that's right.  We have not. 

Q.  Do you have the next track time scheduled yet? 
LARRY FOYT:  No.  That's what we're actually meeting about as soon as we get off this call.  All the engineers are here with the drivers.  We're kind of making our off-season plans right now.  That's why we wanted to get this announcement done and get working towards it. 
I know some people have done a little bit of testing.  We want to just wait and make the proper plan and get after it.  We'll be getting Jack fitted here shortly and probably be testing before too long. 

Q.  Jack, was there ever any opportunities to return to Bryan's team?
JACK HAWKSWORTH:  In all honesty, once this opportunity came about, it was what I wanted to do.  I thought it was the right step for my career.  I knew this was where I wanted to be. 
With that said, what I will say is that Bryan gave me a fantastic opportunity at the beginning of last year, put a lot of trust in me.  I had a fantastic time running with Bryan and his team this year.  He's got a great group of guys.  I enjoyed working with them all. 
I wish them all the best next season.  Yeah, I hope to see them on the track. 

Q.  A technical question for Takuma.  Next year in 2015, we will see the cars with the new aero kits, which at this moment nobody knows how the car will look like or perform.  How do you approach that?  In principle does it mean all the setup data you have collected you throw away and start with zero or you can build on the experience you have with the Dallara car?
TAKUMA SATO:  Since I haven't seen the cars, since I haven't driven the car, it's very little things I can tell. 
But for sure it's bring up the new things for all the teams.  I wouldn't say coming back to a clean sheet of paper.  But based on we will have new elements on the car, every team has a good chance who actually finds the best out of it as early as possible.  That sort of stuff will be good fun to watch from a fan point of view.  For us, we have to get the aero package, then to get knowing on testing or actual race weekend is the key how to learn it. 
Fundamentally, there's only three elements:  the weight distribution, aero balance, then the whole platform.  Basically the decision wouldn't be changed so much by the aero kit.  The fundamental mechanical setup will be very similar.  How much aero efficiency is going better, that's the question.  If it's overcoming to the mechanical grip, then you have to have a very stable platform in order to max out of the aero efficiency.  If not, heavily rely on the mechanical grip.  That's also talking through the very bumpy street course or smooth road courses, millions of different scenarios. 
I'm actually quite excited to having this package.  From an engineering point of view, it's a good challenge, as well as the driver wanting to go faster.  Hopefully this changing or shuffling a little bit for the smaller team to making even more opportunity to beat the bigger teams.  That's ultimately the name of the sport. 
Hopefully with strong engineering as we have in A.J. Foyt Racing, having a two-car program, it massively helps.  I really look forward to driving for the new car. 

Q.  A.J., you mentioned Indianapolis being like your second home.  I know that Eddie Gossage likes to consider Texas Motor Speedway the second home of IndyCar.  He's had this NASCAR date for the last 10 years or so.  This last weekend the U.S. Grand Prix is scheduled in direct competition with it.  What are your thoughts on that? 
A.J. FOYT:  Well, actually you got Formula One, that I never did ever see go very big in the United States.  You know, Eddie Gossage does a great job promoting the race.  To me, the NASCAR race, I have nothing against Formula One, don't get me wrong, but I think the NASCAR race would be a better race to go see than the Formula One.  I could be wrong.  But I really think it could be a lot better race. 

Q.  Do you think this is a way that Bernie Eccelstone has tweaked his nose at racing in the United States?  There are other dates you could probably schedule that race. 
A.J. FOYT:  Well, I really don't know much about Formula One, so I'd be talking out of turn saying one thing or another.  I know it's a very strong operation.  It's been around for many years.  Still, it's not like the Indy 500, or a good high-bank race in Texas with IndyCars.  I've always loved IndyCars. 
I had a chance a couple times to drive Formula One.  I never was that much interested because I never cared to wear a necktie each time I went to eat breakfast.  I'm a Texas boy and I just loved racing in the IndyCars and Sprint cars. 
THE MODERATOR:  Seeing as we have no further questions for our guests, we will thank them for their time today and wrap up today's call. 

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