10 April 2009
Q&A: Dan Wheldon ( Panther Racing).
You just touched on how much you enjoy the responsibility of being a one-car team. I don't know if that's your answer to this next question, but what have you liked the most about the move to Panther Racing?
The motivation behind all the guys on the team, and even the ladies on the team that work in the office. Everybody in that shop wants to get back into victory lane. In 2001-2002 they were used to winning championships. They were very strong in 2005. It's a team that hasn't had the strongest run the last couple of years, but everybody is ready to get back into victory lane.
Seeing that hunger, seeing that motivation is great to be part of, and I thrive off that, I really do. I would say that's the thing that I've really most enjoyed and has been the thing that I've noticed the most about the team. Obviously John Barnes is very, very intense. He'll give you everything that he possibly can give you to make sure that you win, and that's also something that I've enjoyed a lot, too.
How much do you owe your overall driving success to the teaching and skills that you received from Terry Fullerton in your early karting days?
That takes me back.... He was obviously somebody that was very instrumental in my karting career early on. Both Terry Fullerton and Mark Rose were people that ran me in 1995. But I would have to say that most of my success has come through mostly my family and my father's dedication to me from the age of four. He's been with me through thick and thin, and even when Terry Fullerton and Mark Rose were running me in karts, my dad was still a big part of that.
I would have to say I would put most of it down to my father and my family but, by the same token, Terry Fullerton and Mark Rose taught me a great deal. I mean, any time that you can win European championship races and the World Cup that I won in Suzuka in 1995, all these big races, it takes a team, and that's what's different about motor racing. It looks very individualistic with just the driver and the race car, but it really does take everybody. They were part of my wins, and so they'll always have a very special place in my heart.
Aside from Indy, which tracks are you most looking forward to, and which one track do you wish was on the schedule for this year but isn't?
I love Road America. I think it's a great racetrack. If I had to choose a racetrack that we could realistically go to, I think that would be a great one. But I'd also love the series to go to Europe. Formula One is not going to Silverstone anymore, and I think that would be a great event. The IndyCar Series has not only grown in America, it seems to have grown a lot in Europe now with the help of Sky Sports and just with the fact that the series is becoming more and more popular. I think my dream race would be to be at Silverstone but, realistically, I think Road America.
The first part of your question, I love the Japanese race. That's very special to me because obviously that was the scene of my first win. I've been with Honda now for I think it's about seven or eight years, and so it's a special track for them, too, and I just love the layout of the racetrack. It's very, very challenging, and if you get a good race car there, it gives you great satisfaction to drive. I've always been successful there, so that helps.
But I like Homestead a lot, I like Kansas, I love Sonoma, I love Watkins Glen. I have to say I'm not a very good person to ask when I have to answer this question because I like a lot of the tracks on the schedule. I love Richmond. They're all good for different reasons.
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