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April 18, 2015

James Hinchcliffe

James Jakes

Sam Schmidt

SAM SCHMIDT:テつ I'm ready.テつ I'll tell these guys, it's damn nice just being a driver again.テつ Don't have to worry about the money, you know, the people, the engineers, nothing.テつ Just show up and drive the car.テつ I could get used to that again.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ I'll say it again so I get it right.テつ This semi-autonomous motorcar.テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ Very good, yes.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ You drove it around in Indianapolis.テつ Obviously it's been quite a while since you've driven it on a different kind of course, on a road course, now on a street course coming up tomorrow.テつ What are some of the specific improvements you noticed since you tested it in Indianapolis?テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ Yeah, I mean, the main thing is the steering was fantastic, to be able to go around there at a hundred miles an hour.テつ The acceleration was way too slow.テつ I had to kind of work my way up in 10-mile-per-hour increments, which was just a function of not having a lot of time to get it going.テつ
Now we use a sip-and-puff format which is pretty common in wheelchairs.テつ I literally blow into a straw as hard as I want to go and as fast as I want to go, and it goes.テつ If I don't do anything, it coasts.テつ If I suck on the straw, it brakes like a bandit.テつ
You know, it's really just sort of intuitive the way it operates.テつ I guess I have the advantage that it operates a lot like my wheelchair does as far as the functions, so I've got a lot of practice in that.テつ Yeah, it's really good.テつ
THE MODERATOR: テつAnd, James Hinchcliffe, this is the primary sponsor on your car, your No. 5 car this season.テつ How gratifying is it to see their work kind of in person firsthand watching your team owner take all of these new challenges on?テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ First off, Sam, it's great to have you as a driver again.テつ I was one of the people who got to go down and watch Sam do his laps at the Speedway, one of dozens on hand, and thousands were watching on TV, fighting back tears to watch it.テつ
Having the opportunity to have met now some of the people responsible for and now to represent them is huge.テつ
One of the stories, I'm kind of going to steal one of Sam's stories, that just blew me away about this company and what they do.テつ Not only did they approach Sam with this out of the blue, it was something they wanted to do, during the process I guess at some point, Sam jump in if I get this wrong, Sam asked, I guess you have this technology patented?テつ
Whoever it was from Arrow said, No, we don't.テつ
When Sam asked why, they said, Sam, if this technology can help somebody in your position to drive a car again, they can have it.テつ
To have that kind of moral standing on something like this is pretty rare I think in business.テつ To be able to work with and then represent a company like that is super special.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ And James Jakes, obviously very involved in this process, as well.テつ How cool is it for you to see all of this happening around you, especially in a new team situation, coming off so much success in NOLA last weekend?テつ
JAMES JAKES:テつ Yeah, it's awesome.テつ It's great to be a part of such a cool program.テつ I wasn't at the Speedway last year when Sam drove the car around there, so I'm extra excited to see him drive tomorrow.テつ I haven't witnessed it.テつ I'll definitely be down there checking it out.テつ
It looks awesome.テつ Definitely really excited to be a part of the team and have them on the car.テつ Like Sam said, this is the start of many things to come.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Tell us about this course in general.テつ We've been talking about it all weekend.テつ I don't think you can ever get tired of hearing it, just how special this racecourse is, what it means for you personally as drivers to be driving around it.テつ
JAMES JAKES:テつ It's definitely one of the biggest on the calendar, you know.テつ Outside of the 500, it's probably the second biggest race we come to.テつ It's an awesome event.テつ I'm really excited to be back here after a year out.テつ It's definitely one of the ones that you miss.テつ
And the fans here make it extra special.テつ You see them coming in in thousands, it's a great event.テつ The long-standing history here, there's been so many great winners.テつ Every series has raced here from IndyCar to Formula One.テつ The track layout was different, but the same kind of vibe it gives off today. テつ
It's awesome to be here.テつ Definitely the promoters and all the organizers do a great job.テつ It's one of our primary events that we love coming to.テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Yeah, no, I mean, for me, I think James kind of nailed it in saying that it's the history of this place.テつ You can spend all the money building a nice new racetrack, but you can't buy history.テつ
Coming to this event, you meet people that have been coming here for 35, 38, 39 years, whatever it is now.テつ It's so cool to meet those people.テつ I came with my grandfather, my father.テつ Now I'm bringing my kids.テつ You have four generations coming to this event.テつ It's easy to see why it's gotten to the level that it has.テつ
As it's been around for so long, the circuit itself it's pretty well sorted.テつ It's great coming to a street track that doesn't change from year to year.テつ Every curb is in the same place.テつ Makes it easy on us.テつ The layout is a ton of fun to drive.テつ All those things mixed in, it's a track I really enjoy in the sense that I've had a lot of firsts here:テつテつ Lights win was here, first Lights pole was here, first IndyCar podium was here.テつ It's a very special event, for sure.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions.テつ

Q.テつ Sam, this is a very technical racetrack.テつ How are you going to keep it off the walls?テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest thing is the distractions.テつ I mean, literally it operates in a nanosecond.テつ It's totally seamless.テつ There's no delay whatsoever.テつ
So the biggest thing is I might have to put some blinders on.テつ Being in L.A. with all those high heels and everything else, I've got to stay focused straight ahead.テつ
Luckily the walls are pretty high, I'm pretty low.テつ Pretty sunny out there, pretty hot.テつ So you never know what's going to be exposed here.テつ
Straight ahead.テつ It will all come back.テつ It did at Indy.テつ That was the amazing rush at Indy, was just going around that track again.テつ It was like, Oh, my God.テつ I didn't miss a year in the sense that knowing when to turn in down at the gate at turn one at Indy, all that kind of stuff, it's an amazing experience.テつ
I got a great co-driver there with Noel, there, to keep me in line.テつ Yeah, the biggest thing is keeping straight ahead and keeping focused because you can have a few distractions peripherally in an IndyCar, and this thing you can't because it will go left when you don't want to go left.テつ

Q.テつ Once a racer, always a racer.テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ I think so.テつ

Q.テつ Sam, James brought up the history.テつ Having known you since 2006 when you were doing the once-a-year program, but you were pretty much the King of Indy Lights, and looking to see the opportunities you've had in front of you, how you've built this to now being a championship-contending team.テつ Can you speak to the happiness you've derived from all this success and what you've built.テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ Yeah, well, I mean, it obviously is not easy to travel, not easy to get up every morning and come do this.テつ But it's truly what I started doing when I was five years old, racing motorcross.テつ The motivation I need to keep doing what I need to keep doing, in addition to my family and everything else.テつ
So to have that kind of success in Indy Lights was great.テつ And Chris Griffis.テつ For me, I've gone from being a severe type A personality wanting to control everything as a driver and everything else, you know, to somebody that can't control everything.テつ
I've just been very fortunate.テつ 10, 12 years of Indy Lights, to have really, really good people there.テつ Then now with the group that we have.テつ Frankly, to have a little bit of shake-up in the order over the off-season with a couple people leaving, Simon going on, to be able to come back and be on it this early.テつ Everybody can look at the time sheets and see there's 8/10ths of a second separating the whole field here.テつ
You got to get the chemistry going and get everything going.テつ I think we're right where we want to be from a growth and development standpoint.テつ
It's been great to be a part of sort of changing lives in the sense that you have Taylor Kiel and some of these guys that started out pushing brooms for the Indy Lights team, now he's a crew chief on a car, has a house, a wife, married, all that.テつ I do derive a lot of satisfaction out of having that impact and having fun doing it and winning races doing it.テつ
None of that would matter if we couldn't get to the front of the grid, as well.テつ So it's very satisfying, for sure.テつ

Q.テつ I wanted to say that having known you, there are days when I think I'm having a tough day, and I think of all the things you go through just to get through the day.テつ You're an inspiration to us all.テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ Thank you.テつ

Q.テつ Sam, on the Road to Indy side, I got done talking to Dan Andersen.テつ He's a little frustrated in the Lights world in some guys bought cars and they're just sitting there.テつ Even a guy that has an engine lease isn't running it.テつ How do you think things are going?テつ What is it going to take to move it up another four or five cars, to that next level?
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ I know we did our part.テつ I can't run it anymore.テつ
Yeah, I think definitely Carlin coming over and some of the other things that are happening, we all knew a year and a half ago we weren't going to get it done sort of with the entire current ownership that we had in Indy Lights.テつ I think the new car was a way to attract new drivers, new markets.テつ It's a fantastic car.テつ It's a great engine package.テつ Really relevant to drive for IndyCar and everything else.テつ
They've got everything going for them.テつ I think they just need, you know, just a little more time, a little momentum.テつ There's people that had already committed to their European situation.テつ But clearly no motorsports sanctioning body in the world right now has what we have in the Mazda Road to Indy, that scholarship program.テつ To see literally the last five Indy Lights champions graduate to IndyCar, the format they have, that's what they just need to keep promoting, and hopefully it will come.テつ
I think there are 18 chassis that have been delivered.テつ I can't speak to why the other five aren't out here.テつ But hopefully they'll get their butts out here pretty soon.テつ We want to race against 20 people.テつ We want to race against the best and not be four out of 12.テつ

Q.テつ On the Carlin situation, how does that help the series internationally?
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ Tremendous.テつ I've known Trevor for years.テつ He came to Houston actually two years ago to suss it out.テつ He's got to have some frequent flyer miles big-time.テつ But we appreciate him doing that.テつ
He's such a standard at the European level, all the support series over there.テつ They've got a better conduit over there.テつ When you compare the series, we're half the price of GP2, two-thirds the price of GP3.テつ Amongst all else, we're graduating people, and they're getting paid to drive.テつ That's the ultimate goal.テつ It's not happening over there without a country behind you.テつ That's what we got to do.テつ

Q.テつ Sam, a few minutes ago you mentioned adding two new drivers this year and what it takes to succeed.テつ Last week you succeeded in the second race of the season.テつ Describe some of the things that went through this selection process and the emotions that reigned last weekend.テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ I mean, we obviously had a great four years in IndyCar.テつ You look at how long it took some other people to win races in IndyCar.テつ To be able to sit on pole at Indy our first year, then start winning.テつ Never been out of the top five in points in the last three years.テつ Both these guys got a lot to live up to, right, as far as continuing that.テつ
So, I mean, James, when we knew Simon was moving on, it was a pretty easy situation there.テつ It's unfortunate that they couldn't get the sponsorship to continue with James at Andretti.テつ I know they really wanted to.テつ But it was a blessing for us because we had run Hinch in Lights.テつ I felt with our atmosphere, our culture, the way we do things, we could really show his potential.テつ
I mean, I've been talking to James Jakes, Buckshot, is that what they call you now?テつ I don't know where that came from.テつ Had to do something with two James.テつ Can't call them James one and two because then they get pissed off (laughter).テつ
Buckshot, I've been talking to him for the last two years, tried to do something.テつ Knew if we could put him into a proper program with testing, the full support, the whole nine yards, we could be successful on that level.テつ
I definitely remember being on the podium together in Detroit in 2013 or '14, whatever that was.テつ So I think it's all good.テつ The chemistry's good.テつ We're a little behind.テつ I think this whole off-season of aero kit drama, getting those so late without being able to test was a bit of a handicap.テつ
Again, I think the chemistry's there.テつ I think we're only going to get better as the season goes on from a performance standpoint.テつ So it's good.テつ
The new relationship with Arrow, there's only better things to come from that.テつ It all takes money to fuel this thing, and I think technology is a perfect fit for this series.テつ The more we can build that, hopefully make it a two-car Arrow team the next year, the better.テつ

Q.テつ (Question about winning the second time out.)テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ Huge validation.テつ You always think you can and you want to.テつ That doesn't always translate to results.テつ Yes, it was strategy-driven.テつ At the same time, I mean, that's how he won three out of four of our previous races, was strategy.テつ It was pretty heavily magnified last week with the rain.テつ
The reality is I think we took a hell of a chance on the Jakes stand that I work on with his strategy.テつ Then Robert doesn't fit Hinchcliffe.テつ Holy crap, how did he do that?テつ I thought we were going to win the race with Jakes with our strategy.テつ Our own team outfoxed us, so to speak.テつ
It worked out well that we had a split strategy, all came out in the end.テつ
I think huge morale boost for the team.テつ We got a lot of young guys, a lot of energetic people.テつ I think going into this very crazy three or four-month cycle that we have here, it's certainly nice not to have to repair cars this week, I can tell you that.テつ

Q.テつ Sam, getting back to talking about what you're going to be doing tomorrow.テつ Obviously since your accident you've been such a proponent of spinal cord injury research with your foundation and stuff.テつ Did you ever really think this opportunity would come for you, to be able to drive a car again?テつ What does it mean to you?テつ
SAM SCHMIDT:テつ I absolutely didn't.テつ Yes, if you get a spinal cord injury, I think that's one of the things you have an ambition to do, go back and do in a hurry, just for a level of independence.テつ
For me, I had competed at Indy.テつ I had competed at this level.テつ That wasn't as big on my checklist as getting on with life and doing the business stuff and getting back into racing.テつ
So when they gave it to me, it's like there was a big chuckle, chuckle.テつ We had to go a hundred miles an hour, do something fun, not just drive at 50 on a street somewhere.テつ That was part of it.テつ
Then what's been an amazing end result that was not anticipated is the application to the technology.テつ I mean, it literally allows anybody with a disability anywhere in the world to operate machinery, medical applications, transportation applications.テつ A guy can sit in Houston and control offshore drilling rigs.テつ There's all kinds of crazy stuff that has come out of this.テつ
When you look at Iraq and Afghanistan alone, 55,000 permanently disabled troops.テつ We've got to get those guys back to work.テつ This is one way we can do it.テつ That's been a really cool thing.テつ
The CEO is one of these really kind of great guys.テつ They can make things happen.テつ At his last major executive summit, he said, We're going to get Sam his driver's license by 2017.テつ
I'm like, Okay, let's go.テつ
I don't know if you want to be on the road at the same time (laughter).テつ
The other cool side effect, though, is that, yes, we have been investing almost $1 million a year in spinal cord research for the last 14 years.テつ We've had some really good successes.テつ I can't sit here and really show that off.テつ Hasn't been any for me to try in 14 years.テつ
What the Corvette really brought to light was the fact that if somebody makes up their mind they're going to fix something, and they have the resources, they put together the right team of people to do it, they can do it in a very short amount of time.テつ
It has sort of subliminally or directly reinspired me as far as the foundation, you know, to change our whole program to this challenge program, which is prizes and motivating people through competition to solve this problem rather than just paying doctors.テつ
There's been a lot of just fantastic side effects of that car, none the least of which is driving it tomorrow.テつ

Q.テつ For James and Buckshot.テつ Going back to the aero kit, in the car from last year, are you driving the car differently?テつ Are you attacking the corners differently with the additional downforce?テつ What's the difference in the way that you're driving the course this year?テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ For sure I think the kit lends you some opportunity to push the car in some places you couldn't before.テつ I think we're seeing obviously later on the brakes higher corner minimums in certain corners.テつ Certainly in sections where there's some change in direction and the more technical sections like 9, 10, 11.テつ Increased corner speeds in one is going to change your approach in the next, so...テつ
It's all small in terms of percentages, you know, but it's definitely obviously showing up on the watch and the speeds of the car.テつ So it's small things here and there.テつ The setup is obviously the other side of it, trying to make the setup fit with the aero kit, the way it needs to behave.テつ We're all having to adapt a little bit, the engineers on their side, and the drivers on our side.テつ
JAMES JAKES:テつ Yeah, I would just reiterate that really.テつ Driving-wise it's not a massive difference.テつ I would say setup, most people have said that everything that was learnt with the DW12 has kind of gone out of window.テつ 80% of that is true.テつ Obviously dampers kind of stay the same and things like that.テつ But, yeah, a lot of the other stuff has changed.テつ
Like Sam mentioned earlier, I believe we're only going to get stronger through the year.テつ The more we run, the more we learn, it will benefit us.テつ That's one of the reasons why we ran as well after we got taken out in St. Pete, was just to be able to run just to get some mileage.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us.テつ

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