Luczo Dragon Racing co‑owners Steve Luczo and Jay Penske announced today that they have merged their team with de Ferran Motorsports, forming Luczo Dragon Racing de Ferran Motorsports. The team principals set out their objectives in a teleconference after the announcement
Q: Steve. Some very exciting news for you, Jay, and the rest of your team today. Talk about today's announcement and the process of merging your race team with Gil de Ferran's team.
STEVE LUCZO: It's great news and it's really something that the three of us have been formulating and talking about for at least a year, maybe even going back a little further. Really, as you know, Jay and I started the team a few years ago just running the Indy 500 and then we stepped it up to six races and then we stepped it up to a full season, and our goal really all along has been to incrementally build the team, make it stronger, make it more competitive. And we just are at the point now that we felt that given last season's success with Rafa that the right next step was to bring in a partner that could really fill out the team and have a racer's focus on the business, and fortunately through Jay's relationship with Gil we were able to start those conversations a while ago and successfully complete them.
So it's a really great day for our team obviously but I think racing in general. I think it's going to be great to have another competitive team in the league this year.
Q. The press release that was put out earlier today said that the team is going to emphasize technology and science. I know that's kind of the background all three of you have. How do you leverage that background to accomplish the emphasis on technology and science in the IZOD IndyCar Series?
STEVE LUCZO: Well, I think as you say there's multiple dimensions to that. Clearly Jay's focus on the new media side, my focus is more on the high tech computer side, and then again Gil is really from the how you implement that into a racing platform.
As far as me specifically, one of the things that's happened over the last couple of years as more and more people have – it's interesting how excited people are still about racing, in particular Indy racing, and so one of the things we've been playing around with is just how do we access a broader set of technical resources, whether or not they're at the university level or even at the corporate level, where people really want to get involved and use their skills away from what their normal day jobs are.
So we're going to take advantage of some of those opportunities and then just deploy technology where we can obviously in areas like CFD simulation, things like that.
Q. Jay, I know you have a long-time friendship with Gil. In fact, I think I read you've been talking about partnering with him since you guys decided to form a team. How excited are you to actually be working with Gil?
JAY PENSKE: Well, Gil and I have known each other for really over 10 years when he started originally racing for my dad. It's been fun to watch him, one, as a fan when he was driving for my dad's team succeed as a driver, as a champion driver, and then also as a team owner recently.
But this has been a huge step forward for Luczo Dragon Racing, getting to partner with not only someone who's a great friend but has a similar drive to win and having the economics to make it possible. I think we're all really, really fortunate.
Q. I know you mentioned last year with Raphael Matos. Does this affect the team's relationship with Rafa?
JAY PENSKE: I think in a big way. I think adding someone who's actually been in a racecar before and has raced at so many of the venues to provide that tutelage and leadership will be great for us. It'll be a huge – clearly coming from the same country, someone he respects so much, I think this is really a match made in heaven.
Q. You've probably shared the news with Rafa. What was his reaction to hearing that Gil was coming on board?
JAY PENSKE: I think he picked up the phone and called Gil within five seconds of hanging up the phone, and he was so excited he could barely stand it. He's been so excited and just welcomes the opportunity to race with Gil this year.
STEVE LUCZO: Plus Gil can say "stay calm" in Portuguese much better than Jay or I can.
Q. Gil, you must be pretty excited about joining forces with Steve and Jay?
GIL de FERRAN: Absolutely. I mean, this feels very much like a homecoming in many ways. I mean, first of all, I think as Jay mentioned, we've known each other for many years, and we've been talking about this for quite a while. And frankly, I think that the more we spoke about it, the more we thought it made a lot of sense. Our skills are very complementary, and I think together we'll form a much stronger group than we would have done perhaps separately.
And certainly from a personal standpoint, returning to IndyCar racing feels good. You know, most of my career, most of my success, shall I say, as a professional driver happened in IndyCar racing. Certainly some of the biggest headlines I was able to accomplish happened there, and I feel very good to be able to go back to IndyCar racing not as a driver but certainly as a team owner.
Q. Obviously you oversee the day‑to‑day operations for the team. What areas of the team do you think will see the immediate benefits of the merger?
GIL de FERRAN: Well, look, we're just landing here on the ground. I mean, as you probably saw in the release, we have a very strong focus on technology and the science of how to make racing cars go fast. We're just starting – I mean, it's a young team. Both teams are young, in fact, and I think by pooling all our resources together, we'll have a better chance of doing well here in the short term. But certainly we're going to face some stiff competition and have a lot of work to do here.
Q. Obviously with today's economy we're going to have to see more combined efforts like this for teams to maybe be successful in auto racing. We've kind of seen a great deal of mergers in other forms of racing. Just talk about the economic impact. I know Gil was trying to get a team together and found it was getting to be a little bit difficult but now here's a solution.
JAY PENSKE: I think, one, this wasn't driven by economics, it was driven by the will for all of us to compete and win at this level of the series. I think to bring in experience where you can have someone who's raced and won in this series, have that visibility for the team, coupled with the relationships that Steve and I have in the technology marketplace I think were helpful. But I think this was building on a strong core base just making it stronger. I think that's been the focus of this merger, and I think that's the result we hope to succeed.
GIL de FERRAN: Absolutely. I would just echo exactly what Jay said and what I mentioned earlier. You know, I think we slowly came to the realization that we would be able to run a better operation by being together than being apart, especially because we're all different guys from different backgrounds, and we fit together very well. You know, and like I said, we're facing formidable opponents here. Ganassi and Team Penske have been dominating the championship for the last several seasons, and the goal is to be as good as them or if not better. To be able to do that, we need to dig very deep and pool as many resources as we can together.
Q. And also with the preseason test coming up next week, can you give us a little bit of an idea of what all you guys need to do between now and then and what your goals and objectives are when you get there next week?
GIL de FERRAN: Well, we have a lot to do. You know, there's certain practical aspects of the operation that I guess will remain intact here certainly for the short term because we have a race to run and have to prepare, and we'll slowly try to improve and add things to that.
Here's my little whinge. Unfortunately we don't have that much opportunity to test. I would love to be able to hit the racetrack for more than a couple of days before the race in Brazil.
Q. The plan right now is one-car full season for Rafa? And will you look beyond that if additional funding becomes available?
JAY PENSKE: I think that's right now that's the plan, to run Rafa at all the events this year, with the possibility of adding other cars in the future. I think it's certainly a goal of ours, but right now we're focused very much on every race, incrementally doing a better job at all the tracks Rafa raced last year and some of the new tracks that have been added this year.
GIL de FERRAN: Yeah, I think it's important to understand that the bigger we are, the more resources we'll be able to have. Certainly, it would be nice to add to our program, and we're looking into that to make sure it's properly funded. But right now the focus is on Rafa.