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Long Beach Driver Interviews

Long Beach, CA, April 19, 2009 Julie Andre prowls the Long Beach pit lane and paddock looking for drivers to answer her questions on what the American Indy Lights drivers' goals are and their thoughts on the USF1. Then she asks a couple of ALMS drivers on the differences between road and street circuits and how they cope with multiple classes.

JULIE: What are your racing career goals?

JR Hildebrand Interview Photo JR HILDEBRAND: My end goal is to be driving an IndyCar. Being an American, and growing up around the series, being able to come down to Long Beach, Sears Point, Laguna Seca over the years it's definitely what I aspire to do. I am in a position where hopefully I can make it happen in a couple of years. I think I may have a little bit of an advantage over the field not being a rookie and having some experience on ovals. I have been to a lot of the tracks before with a great team so I think we have a good shot at the title this year. One of the obstacles is the financial aspect of it. As a driver, you have to keep in mind that if the money is not there it is probably not going to happen. Hopefully, with the series gaining some strength and the economy turning around there will be opportunities in the future.

JONATHAN SUMMERTON: My goal is to make it to Formula One. You know the IRL is definitely a good step, but for me like I said it is definitely Formula One. It is the top level of motorsports, the pinnacle of racing. Of course, with the current economy it becomes increasingly harder each year to continue to move up to the next level especially with sponsors cutting our budgets.

DANIEL HERRINGTON: Indy Lights is definitely where my heart is now and where I want to be. It seems like the best stepping stone that there is. For now I am keeping my options open. The IRL seems pretty strong, and it keeps growing each year especially after the unification, so being in Indy Lights or the development series is the right place to be if an opportunity in the IRL opens up.

CHARLIE KIMBALL: Obviously, the plan here is to win here in Indy Lights. It's really a good stepping stone. It's also one of the only opportunities to learn how to go racing on an oval. It's the only place in the world outside of IndyCar where you can race on an oval in an IndyCar. So to me that's a big key as to why I am here. The other thing is it allows me to build my sponsorship package and hopefully try to introduce new partners to IndyCar. One of the things I am really excited about this weekend is I brought on a pharmaceutical company NorvoNordisk. I have been using their insulin since I was diagnosed with diabetes 18 months ago. I still take it, and it is nice to work with them and raise awareness and not only that, but I give them value now and introduce them to motorsports marketing. So then when I am ready as a driver to step up to IndyCar I can take them with me. It's really an exciting prospect! With the economy the way it is people are just being more careful and discerning making sure they are getting the value for each dollar they are putting in. That's one of the things that Indy Lights does a good job at, promoting young drivers, promoting American drivers, showcasing them and putting them in the same bracket as IndyCar as much as possible. For example, the autograph sessions, being on the same website homepage that sort of stuff. When we are ready to go to IndyCar we can take everything that we learned here. I am so excited about racing at Indy. It is one of the special race tracks in the world. I have had a chance to race at Monaco, the short circuit at Le Mans, but Indy is the big one that is missing still.

ANDREW PRENDEVILLE: The IRL is definitely my goal. IndyCar is where it is at.

JULIE: What are your thoughts on USF1?

HILDEBRAND: It's yet to be determined how it's really going to happen and how likely it is that it will start within the next year or so. I think it is really exciting news for open wheel racing in general. There is definitely a void in the United States in Formula 1 in North America particularly with the race in Canada being lost. There isn't much of a presence anymore. It's something we all look at as an opportunity moving forward. Hopefully some news will be coming out soon as to what direction it will take.

Jonathan Summerton Interview Photo SUMMERTON: I think it is a great thing to happen. It's really good for the country. I think it could be good for my career because I think they are looking for American drivers, so it's a lot easier for me to not have to go to Europe and fight my way through their system.

HERRINGTON: It's pretty exciting! I really hope the guys can get it together and get out there. Being a fan of Formula 1 and an American race car driver it's been something I have been waiting to see for a long time. Maybe they will let me test drive one of their cars.

KIMBALL: I think it is great! I welcome any new racing opportunities that present themselves.

PRENDEVILLE: I don't think anything of it. They have talked about it for years and years with nothing happening. I have been in the sport for nine years now. I will believe it when I see it.

JULIE: What are the challenges racing with diabetes?

Quote Image KIMBALL: It takes a lot of discipline. I have a typical day regimen as far as taking my medication and on race days that changes because of the exercise, being in the race car, and the extreme temperatures, my body uses the blood sugar differently, and I like to have a safety margin. So, I adjust my doses of medication for meals and stuff. It's all about discipline, preparation, and routine. I have a couple of fail safes. I have drinks in the car for orange juice and other fluids with a high sugar content, so if I am getting low I can drink that.

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Copyright © 2009 by Julie Andre and American Driver Ranking. All Rights Reserved.

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