-Jack Harvey, new driver of RLL #45 HyVee Honda
-Bobby Rahal, team Co-Owner of RLL
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Great to see everyone today. Announced earlier today, Jack Harvey will be taking the reins of the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan racing next season, part of a multiyear deal. Hy-Vee expands their program to become a full-time partner as part of their own multiyear agreement with RLL.
2022 will be Jack’s third full season in the NTT INDYCAR Series after four top 5s and six top 10s in 2021, and both Jack and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team co-owner Bobby Rahal joining us today. Congratulations to both. Let’s start with Jack.
New year, new team, new colors, already a new look. How excited are you for 2022?
JACK HARVEY: I don’t have the words to really explain it, mate. I guess the way I would try to is I’ve been working for this kind of opportunity since I was nine years old at my local go-karting track in the UK, so all of those years, days, hours, high moments, down moments have been trying to get to this level of opportunity that I’m so thankful and grateful to Bobby, Mike, Davis, Piers, everybody at Hy-Vee for showing me that interest and ultimately that trust and support of putting me in the car.
I haven’t really got a great one-word answer for that, it’s just I’ve been dreaming of this my whole life.
THE MODERATOR: Bobby, as milestones go, it’s been a really heck of a year between the new shop in Indiana, now adding the 45 full-time program, and for Jack himself, why is this a perfect fit?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, first, as you say, this is a big moment for RLL, in the history of RLL. Yes, the new shop is certainly a big one, but developing the relationship that we have with Hy-Vee, which started last year, and here we are going forward together on a full-time basis.
Really for me when it came down to who are we going to get to drive this car, I’d had interest in Jack before. Obviously he showed his pace. He showed he had a lot of good races. He had some very good races that didn’t end up so well, which that happens in racing, but through no fault of his own I might add. But that happens.
Our goal, Mike’s, mine, Dave’s, our goal was to really put forth the strongest three-car program we could for 2022 and beyond, and certainly Hy-Vee was a huge component of that or is a huge component, and then bringing Jack in to the team is just as much of a huge one.
I think for sure Jack, Graham will push each other. That does great things for a team because it just raises the competitiveness of the team. All you have to do is look at Roger, what his team has been like over the years, or Chip. You’ve got to have guys within the organization that are pushing each other and really trying to make it better, and so I’m really pleased that Jack agreed to come along with us.
I can’t think of a better representative for Hy-Vee and RLL, both on and off the track. That’s why we’re here today.
Q. You talked a little bit about it but maybe a little bit more on Hy-Vee, increasing the commitment, a supermarket chain that you could tell from the get-go that they are all in; just a couple weeks ago announced the double-header at Iowa Speedway, the Hy-Veedeals.com 250, the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 Saturday and Sunday, coming up July 23 and 24. What does it mean for your team and maybe the sport to have a company that is all in like they have shown to be over the last couple years now?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I mean, all you have to do — if you’ve not been to a Hy-Vee store, and I think there are many INDYCAR fans that have, when you walk into their store there’s nothing but the No. 45 Hy-Vee car all over the store in every possible position you could place a picture of the driver or the car or what have you.
When they get in, they get in big and they do it right. For years they were a sponsor of the major triathlon in this country.
But I think this really resurrecting the Iowa Speedway, multiyear agreement to have that race and have two races there for that matter, I can tell you that it will be packed.
Hy-Vee has such credibility in the Midwest and certainly in Iowa, and I know they’re reaching out to fellow companies from Iowa to support it, so I think it’s going to be huge.
For us, we’re just very fortunate to have built this relationship, and we continue to build it. I think Jack is a big part. One of the big blocks of construction of that relationship is being handled by Jack and the job he’ll do on and off the track.
Q. What is it about Jack that makes you think that he’s ready to bring home the groceries?
BOBBY RAHAL: So to speak, right? Well, I guess I probably should be the first one to answer that. What do I think? I’ve seen his pace on the tracks, and I’ve seen what he can do, in qualifying and in race day. I just think that — I don’t think there’s any question that he has the capability, and for us now, it’s all about giving him the team around him to really take it to the next level, which is to put it in Victory Lane, and I think there’s no doubt that he can do that.
That excites all of us within RLL, because again, it’s all about putting our best foot forward, and I think Jack is an example of that.
Q. Jack, from your point of view, in a lot of ways, stepping up, Rahal Letterman Lanigan a well-proven team, has won races. What is it about that operation that you feel like this is going to be a great step for you?
JACK HARVEY: I mean, everything really. I really enjoyed my initial chats with Bobby and with Mike, the ambition of the team, and honestly what really drew me to the team was they were having a good season, but that wasn’t enough. That’s really how I felt, as well.
I feel ready to have an expanded role, I guess. I’m really excited to get on track. I feel that my time at MSR has served me really well, and I feel ready to win.
The things I loved about to the team was there’s still things I need to work on, and I feel like the team has a lot of infrastructure and support to help me grow both as a driver and as a person. I’m excited to work with Graham and the third car when that gets announced.
But to me it wasn’t one thing that hammered it home. It was from the get-go, from our first conversations to now, I’ve just been so impressed with the hunger and desire of the team. Obviously Hy-Vee’s commitment has been incredible.
There’s so many things to look forward to with this team, and honestly I’m just really grateful to be a small part of it but obviously a big part of it come race day.
But it takes a village; you can’t just do it on your own. A lot of people have helped me to get here, and just excited for the future at this point.
Q. How difficult was it for you to not talk about this, because it seems like we’ve been asking you about this since the end of June, beginning of July.
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, you kept asking. I couldn’t say anything. You know, I am getting a little bit of a tickle where everybody thought it would be for the No. 30 car, and obviously that’s not the case.
You know, there’s a lot of rumors, a lot of guessing. Hey, that’s racing. It kind of excites people.
I don’t have a problem with that, but until the time was right, we couldn’t make an announcement. But obviously the time has been right now.
Q. Jack, from your point of view?
JACK HARVEY: I think one of the things I most respected about Bobby straight away was his respectfulness towards me, towards all the teams in the INDYCAR paddock, towards the drivers. He answered it really well. Everyone kept asking, but to try to carry on on that nice path that we have started in our relationship together was respect, I would say, and until the time was right, it wasn’t appropriate to announce it.
I mean, it was great that everyone keeps asking. It was nice it was on everyone’s mind. I think being in the 45 maybe was a little bit of a surprise for people, so maybe not a total surprise that we ended up where we did, but maybe a little surprise on the car we’re going to be driving.
My personal feeling on silly season is it’s silly, but it certainly makes for good drama for everybody, and if that’s what keeps INDYCAR in everyone’s attention and thoughts in the off-season, then happy to go through it.
Q. Bobby, what is the timeline on making the announcement on the 30?
BOBBY RAHAL: I think probably by the end of the month we’ll be ready to make that announcement. We’ve still got some time to go, but I would say by the end of the month it’ll be made clear which direction we’re headed.
Q. Wanted to clarify for Bobby, was this the plan whenever you guys had signed Jack and that we’d heard rumblings back to July, but was this the plan to have him in the 45 backed by Hy-Vee or had anything changed along the way to bring you guys to this point?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I mean, certainly Jack driving the 45 car was considered as a part of the plan or a big consideration. The most important thing is who could we get for that car that was going to do a job that — this is an important commitment for our team, for RLL. This is a sponsor that has been tremendously supportive of us even just to this point, so it was very important for me personally, and I think Mike felt the same way, and Dave, that we’d put the best possible guy we could get in that car.
Really in the end, Jack filled that bill. We tried several other guys, as you well know, and I’m not going to comment on the possibilities of any one of them being remaining with the team, but just suffice it to say, we wanted the best guy we could get in the 45 car. That’s not saying we’re not looking for the best guy we can get for the 30 car, because as I said earlier, our goal over the last year has been to put ourselves in position to put the three best guys that we can get into the team to drive that team forward.
With Jack, with Graham, I think we’ve got two out of that three, and we’re working on the third.
Q. At this point as you guys hone in on who will drive that No. 30, I’m assuming when you guys have Hy-Vee behind Jack that there’s probably an importance on that driver, whoever it may be, bringing a good portion of their own funding to help fund that ride?
BOBBY RAHAL: No. You know, we — thankfully through the hard work of our marketing/sales group, Tom Knox and his folks, there’s been a lot of work, a lot of commitment over the last year or two to get us to the point where we could hire who we wanted to hire. That’s the same — that’s led us to this point.
That’s the way it used to be for me back in the days of Team Rahal when we had Bryan Herta or Kenny Brack or Max Papis or any of those fellas in our team.
Thankfully, again, through all that hard work, we’re in a position where we can make independent choices. That’s nice. I can tell you. And we’re continuing — as you know, in racing there’s never enough money, so we’re continuing to knock on doors, but we’re really pleased with where we’re at at this point in time.
Q. Jack, for you, I think you had said maybe in your opening statement, you just talked a little bit about the consistency that the RLL program had shown. Particularly on Graham’s car it was pretty evident this year; they had so many top 5s, top 6s, and you had mentioned that they were pushing for more. How important was their consistency and their week-to-week execution in making you ultimately decide to want to join this new program going forward?
JACK HARVEY: It was a huge part, ultimately. I look at our season, and it was filled with a lot of potential. Too many coulda-woulda-shouldas, and I would look every weekend and watch the races back, and I always felt like Graham’s race pace was exceptionally strong, and as a team they always found a way to get their drivers to the front. That’s definitely been a few races where I was envious of that.
I think a lot of it, you look at their season, and the cars always run really well at Indy, which is evident because they’ve won it extremely recently, Graham has been very strong this year. I thought the 45 at the end of the year was running pretty strong, as well, and ultimately I think the team expanding to three cars is a great move for everybody. But their consistency, and when you see all three cars be quick and have the opportunity to be quick, that’s what you want to be a part of.
I feel like what I can bring to the team is obviously trying to qualify, keep our qualifying performances going, but also be able to improve on our race pace, which I feel like between me and the team, we should be ticking a lot of those boxes.
There’s just a lot of really great things that everybody at RLL is doing, which made that such an enticing opportunity. Again, like I said, it wasn’t one particular thing, it was just the team is very, very good across the board, and like I said to a couple of people who kind of knew, it was a tough decision, but ultimately where I was before, MSR, I’ve been there a long time, I know a lot of people there, it would have been easy to have stayed, and ultimately I wouldn’t have just left that organization for anything, but I was really excited about this project, this opportunity, and I wanted to be a part of it.
I’d like people to know that I wouldn’t have just taken anything. I was truly excited about this.
I just want to get on track now. I know we kind of just got to the off-season, but I want to just go. I just want to go racing now.
Q. Bobby, I know Graham had talked in recent years about ideally being able to find a driver who he has a very similar style to to be able to better share setup details and maybe work a little bit more hand-in-hand with as far as race prep goes. From what you guys know about Jack, does he fit the bill of that in not only being able to bring a strong driver in himself but also be able to seamlessly aid in Graham’s continued performance?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, as I’ve said to many people, 1990-91 my teammate was Al Unser, Jr., and the old saying in racing is the first guy you have to beat is your teammate, and when you do that, and then he beats you, all you do is elevate the competitiveness of the team from an overall basis.
That’s what appealed to me about Jack coming in to Graham as his teammate, and about the third guy that we’ll have when he comes in.
I don’t know if Jack’s style is that similar to Graham’s. I don’t know yet. But I do know that Jack can stand on the gas and I know Graham stands on the gas, and I know between the two of them, they’re going to do more of that and they’re going to raise our game.
You just had to look at the people that would fill that bill for us as a team, and as I said earlier, that’s why we were hopeful Jack would join us, because I think between — I know he and Graham socialize, get along well, and that’s good, obviously, because you need to have that, but this isn’t all about making Graham’s game better. This is all about making RLL’s game better as a group and then of course making the games better for both Graham and Jack.
Q. I’ve been lucky that we’ve been covering the series for the last three years over on SKY Sports in the UK, so I’ve seen the growth and interest and energy in the sport stateside, but I was wondering if you guys were aware of the similar growth in interest over in Europe, as well, not just England but in Europe, both in fans and also drivers. We obviously had Romain come over in the last season; we have Alex now taking a championship for Spain. Are you aware of the growth of interest internationally for the series? I wondered if Graham, that brought back memories of him racing in the heyday of the Champ Car series, which was a proper global series.
BOBBY RAHAL: From my standpoint, I do remember — first off, I think it’s wonderful that INDYCAR — selfishly I’m probably biased, but I think it’s the best form of racing out there, most competitive form of racing. But it’s great.
It’s great that Alex won the championship, great young man, obviously going to do big things for him in Spain, and Spanish people are probably going to become — they’ve become overnight INDYCAR fans maybe as a result.
Same thing with Jack now. Of course he’s had a big following in England as it is but maybe more so.
Of course Romain who has been a real pleasant surprise for me because you’ve heard all these stories, and the guy couldn’t be a better guy, because I think he’s having fun racing again, and he’s a pretty damned good race car driver.
So I’m really happy that INDYCAR is getting that kind of following.
It does seem similar to, for example, when Mansell came over, INDYCAR was probably close to being as popular on TV as F1 was at the time, and probably it was considered a bit of a threat to F1 at the time.
But yeah, I think it’s wonderful. I hope it just continues to grow.
I think for sure we’re going to see more drivers from Europe and Asia come this way because the opportunities are so limited in Formula 1, and those opportunities seem to be so — are not based on necessarily your skills but on the bankroll you might have, reading about this Australia kid who’s won everything in F2 and he’s kind of without a ride so far, and it doesn’t seem fair, does it.
For guys like that who want to race and want to run up front and have the ability and opportunity to do so, I think INDYCAR presents an awfully good opportunity for those guys.
Q. Recently when we’ve seen drivers change teams, they’ll bring an engineer that they’re familiar with, obviously Romain and Olivier, but obviously it happens many times. Is there any plan for Jack on who his engineer is going to be for next season?
BOBBY RAHAL: So the engineer that Jack will have has been with us for a number of years, and of course we have — to some degree we have a bit of an oversubscribed engineering group because I’ve always felt you can never have too many good people, but with Eddie Jones there, obviously with Allen McDonald on Graham’s car, and we continue to look for others. So we haven’t made the actual announcement, but it’s going to be a guy that’s going to help Jack achieve his goals for sure.
I guess that’s the most I can say about that.
Q. Bobby, what’s it going to take, because you’ve had really strong personnel at RLL for a long time, just a formidable lineup of personnel. What is it going to take to push RLL into the not just regular winners but title contention again? And is having three cars part of that?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I think having three competitive cars is going to help that for sure, for the reasons I’ve spoken of. But we continue to try to bring the best possible people we can into the team.
I’m very fortunate that my partners, Mike and Dave, are willing to make those kinds of commitments, and I guess there’s no better example of that than the building that is going up in Zionsville, which I believe will be a world-class racing facility and will presumably help us become even more competitive.
I think if you look at the races we’ve had over the last several years, there’s been a lot of races where probably we were in a pretty good position to win and then yellow flags would come out and that was that.
But as Jack said, come race day, we’ve been pretty capable of, regardless of where we qualified, we’ve been able to figure out a way forward and then to take advantage of that.
You know, as I said earlier, Jack is just one cog in this new machine that’s going to help along with Graham and our third driver to help drive us forward, and we’re going to continue to invest in the team and its resource and its people. Obviously we’re quite happy with our relationship with Honda. We think they’ve done a great job over the years.
I think maybe Jack even mentioned earlier, but we’re here to win. That’s all we really want to do is win. So everything we do every day is geared to that end.
Q. Looking back on Graham’s 2015 where he finished fifth in the championship and was actually a title contender for a long time with what was basically a solo entry, do you look back on that time now and think, my God, there’s no way we could do that now, like we need that — everything is just so pinched so tight between all the teams.
BOBBY RAHAL: Yeah, that, and you’ve got Ganassi is a four-car team, Penske is a four-car team, Andretti is a four- or five-car team. I mean, you kind of need the numbers just to defend yourself.
That’s not to say that as a single car you can’t go out and do it. You can, but it just is that much harder.
You know, the big thing in any championship quest is to minimize the DNFs, minimize the issues. This year Graham had a lot of top 5s, I think seven or eight top 5s, a couple sixths, a couple sevenths, but you’ve got to win. And then you can’t have things like we didn’t finish Indy; that’s double points, that kills you if you don’t finish Indy in a good spot.
Then our other races where we had — Elkhart wasn’t a great race. But nevertheless, you’ve got to be counted every day. That’s why you really need to build that strong team, have strong driver that will push each other forward to being in that top, that lead group every race weekend.
You do that, you’re going to win your fair share of races.
Q. Jack, if Bobby lands a BMW prototype gig, would you be interested in doing endurance races for him?
JACK HARVEY: I’m pretty free on them weekends, so if he wanted to maybe make that happen, I would be pretty excited about it.
That being said, my first focus obviously is to make sure the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda is running at the front, and in my experience in racing so far, good results on track make other things happen, and before we get carried away on thinking and dreaming about other championships, my No. 1 focus, my only focus is the INDYCAR Series.
I love the series. I feel like there’s nowhere to hide for the drivers, for teams, for everyone on pit lane, and to put together a championship-winning year, you really have to be perfect a lot of weekends and really minimize the bad ones.
To answer the question, yes, I would definitely be interested in doing it. I think LMDh is going to be an absolutely awesome program. Who knows what’ll happen in that department in the first place, but my focus of course is going to stick to INDYCAR until we’re getting the job done there.
Q. I wanted to ask also about where you believe your strengths lie. I think you mentioned earlier that you feel that you still have a bit to learn. Is that technically on the cars or is it more to do with certain tracks that you want to be better at?
JACK HARVEY: I think everyone is in a constant state of improvement in INDYCAR because what we noticed this year, what was good enough one weekend isn’t good enough the next weekend. It’s about trying to be as perfect as you can be all the time, and I want to work on probably in the off-season, I would say I was particularly impressed with Graham’s tire degradation throughout the races, and I felt there was a couple of times — we for sure had good deg at some tracks, and I thought our fuel saving was strong, but there was other tracks where I think we burnt the tires off a little bit more.
I just want to go make myself better. I want to elevate myself, to elevate Graham, elevate the team, and then inherently elevate myself again because all the other people have rose the bar.
INDYCAR is relentless. It’s relentless for everybody to be improving and to be better, and I feel like a lot of the ingredients are there to go and have an incredible season next year.
But it doesn’t just happen. It’s an incredible amount of hard work. I’ve already started going into the shop. For me and everybody and to familiarize myself with the RLL way, we want to hit the ground running straight away.
It takes an immense amount of effort, and I’m up for it. I’ve never been hungrier to go and get good results because I feel like you look at my career in INDYCAR right now, and it’s been tapped with what I feel like is a lot of potential, and several times I feel like we’ve been on the cusp of winning and haven’t yet.
I badly want to do this. I want to be here and I want to have a great season.
Q. You see a lot of stick-and-ball sports where you kind of have your windows opened or closed with draft picks, and with having two kind of funded cars it seems, do you feel like that window for you guys is kind of wide open, that you can pick based off talent than on a checkbook that somebody brings, and does that add more pressure that you have to get this right now because it’s not very often that you have this opportunity?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, as I said earlier, we’ve been working really hard. Probably six years ago, seven years ago, Mike Lanigan and I decided we really need to make the financial commitment to create an in-house marketing/sales organization, and we found this fellow Tom Knox and asked him to — and Tom had been with Rusty Wallace, he had been with NASCAR, he had been with IMG, a really strong resume, and he thankfully came on and we just re-upped another long-term agreement with him, and he’s done a great job with his team, put a team together that’s really producing results.
That’s what’s put us in this place. Obviously the on-track product hasn’t been bad at all by any means, but it takes more than that.
So the organization has really — why we are where we are is because of those efforts I think in particular, and then we continually look for further relationships in the corporate world to help us along our way and for us to create these kinds of relationships like we have been able to do with Hy-Vee.
That has been a goal of ours, as I said, that we wanted to get to a place where we were hiring drivers because of our respect for their abilities and what they could do for our team, and we’re at that point.
Q. How do you guys — on a weekend as media or fans you look at the INDYCAR app to see if guys are fast here, see what the speed charts are. How much has that evolved over the years of scouting drivers on a team personnel as a good fit? I know NTT does a good job now of giving a lot of data out maybe behind the scenes, but has that philosophy changed over the years as technology has gotten greater about how you maybe scout somebody?
BOBBY RAHAL: Yeah, there’s more information out there for sure. A lot of information comes to you. People have agents, guys, people trying to help them, help these drivers. They’re making you aware of them, what they’re doing, regardless of where it might be.
Palou was in — I’m trying to think of the name of the formula in Japan right now; it’s slipping my mind. But he wasn’t in Europe; he had been in Europe, gone to Japan, was very highly thought of there, and there’s probably others over there looking the INDYCAR way, as there is in Europe.
You know, a lot of it comes to you, but then again, it’s upon you to act upon that information. Piers Phillips, who’s the president of RLL, has kept his finger on that pulse to a large degree.
Yeah, I mean, you’re always looking because — we’re fortunate all of our drivers are pretty young. Graham is 32, I think Jack is 26 or 27. It’s not like we’ve got a team full of 40 year olds or 39 year olds.
So we’ve got some runway ahead of us. But we’re going to continue to look, test these young guys, people who have got great resumes and see because one day we might come knocking.
THE MODERATOR: I think Super Formula was the name of the series you were looking for.
BOBBY RAHAL: Thank you very much. Yep.
Q. Bobby, obviously with the announcement you’re going to a three-car team next season, how big is that for you on a personal level but also in terms of INDYCAR itself, that we’re kind of increasing the car count?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I mean, from an INDYCAR standpoint it’s looking pretty good, isn’t it. I think there’s maybe one race I’ve heard where if the entry count is what they think it will be, there might be a race or two where somebody is going to go home in that race just because of the capability of the circuit to hold that many cars in the pits. I hope that’s not the case. But I’ll tell you that’s the way it was when I got into the series in 1982. They used to have races to decide who was going to fill the last two spots on the grid. You had that many extra cars.
So that’s a nice problem to have, when you have that many cars being entered into your series.
For us personally, this is a big — the thing that has kept us from really doing this outside of maybe some financial capability is finding good people because it’s one thing to say you have a third car, but for us it’s imperative that our third car — that any of our cars have equal resource, and that’s not just cars and parts and wings and this, that and the other thing, but that’s people, because for those three cars to contribute and for them individually and for the team, the people with each of those groups, those teams, have to be top rated.
So that takes time to put together. Just as we’ve been able to find the sponsorship to enable us to bring people like Jack in, then it’s also about finding good people to join that.
It’s a never-ending process for sure, but we’re really thrilled about being a full-time, three-car entrant with the stature and the quality of the drivers that we will have in 2022.
Q. In terms of Hy-Vee, obviously they started out with you guys kind of on a very kind of short-term contract, with like a race-by-race thing, and now you’ve kind of gone full circle where they’re a full-time partner. How happy are you about that and the development of that relationship with Hy-Vee, that it’s come to this point?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, we’re obviously extremely happy. They’re wonderful people to work with. They’re committed. Just taking on the Iowa race, that’s a big thing. That’s a big thing for INDYCAR, to get to another oval — it’s an oval that everybody loves. I think most drivers and all love to race on it because there’s a lot of passing. I mean, it’s one of those races that you don’t quite know where to look because there’s so much going on.
That’s huge. Their commitment to that speedway, to the INDYCAR series, to have that race for the next three years, that’s big.
As I say, you go into their grocery stores and their convenience stores and everything else they’re doing and it’s just amazing the promotion and the merchandising and just what they’re doing.
Yeah, that’s on their behalf for sure, but it’s also everybody who’s involved in that effort is going along for the ride, and that includes INDYCAR and obviously us and I think Jack is going to be the most famous guy in the middle part of America. He’s going to be plastered everywhere, wherever Hy-Vee may be.
Yeah, it’s big. It’s big for everybody.
Q. Jack, is there any time frame as to when you’ll be first testing the car?
JACK HARVEY: I haven’t heard yet. I think the way that INDYCAR’s testing regulations are for next season, your days are going to be extremely valuable, I think, making sure we pick the appropriate days at the right time is going to be key. But everyone has to remember, for a moment there there was a little bit of limbo because things weren’t quite being shared yet on both sides, and it’s only now like the last week or so I’ve been fully immersed into the RLL way of life, I guess.
Probably TBD, but obviously want to make them count.
Q. Will you be spending more time in the simulator between now and then?
JACK HARVEY: I’ll say the same to you as I said to everyone on the team. I’ll do whatever they need me to do, whether it’s be in the factory, be in the simulator, travel wherever, I’m 100 percent in to whatever we need to do to be successful on track. If it’s more simulator days and everybody at Honda and HPD can provide them to us. I live in Indy for a reason. I’m here because I want to be immersed into that life and I’m totally invested in getting good results.
Whatever we need to do, I’m game.
Q. Obviously I know with Romain he brought his seat across from Dale Coyne to Andretti. Is that something you’ll do or have you got a brand new seat for next season?
JACK HARVEY: Race seat you mean?
JACK HARVEY: We did bring it over. I’ll probably end up making a new one, but it’s nice to have something to help get the pedals into the right position. That seat ended up being slightly — I was a little bit too far on the right-hand side. It was almost like I was still trying to be in the UK or something. We’re going to get one that’s a bit more centered hopefully.
Yeah, there’s just a few things to work on on that. But yeah, I think the first port of call was obviously making a nice announcement and then we’ll worry about the seat and the pedals maybe later this week.
Q. I’ve always been curious as to kind of the layout of the steering wheel and stuff. Will that change now that you’re with Rahal Letterman Lanigan?
JACK HARVEY: Probably more significantly than what people think. I actually held the wheel in the shop last week, and that’s going to take a second just to get used to. The way that the wheel itself, the layout of the wheel is quite different. The dash page is different.
Honestly, it might silly to a lot of people, but they’re the reasons why I do live in Indy, so I can go to the factory, I can see all the guys, and I can drip feed that learning process over so that when we come to wherever our first test is, I’m already dialed in. We’re not spending half a day hitting the wrong buttons. Inevitably at some point I will hit the wrong button for sure because it’s so different in the high-pressure moment we’ll see, but that’s why I want to be here. I want to be here so I can learn everything, steering wheels included.
THE MODERATOR: Jack, I’m imagining you in a piece of content video where you sneak into a Hy-Vee store somewhere in the Midwest and you’re serving up nachos or something there to surprise people.
JACK HARVEY: I should take some bacon. I should bacon, and just offer it outside or something and see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: I like the way you think here.
Q. There’s less testing this off-season; does that put you in kind of a disadvantage in comparison to the rest of the teams, also considering that the season starts a bit earlier in 2022?
BOBBY RAHAL: For me, I don’t think it puts us at a disadvantage. We’ve been doing testing, maybe not on track but other things. Yeah, you’re very limited as to what you can do on track. We want to go to the circuits that are going to be relevant to where we race.
Yeah, we will definitely use up all of our days. I think it’s just a matter in some cases of when compared to others, but generally everybody uses them up about the same time.
Now, having a third car, that opens up some opportunities, but in any event, yeah, I don’t think — I think we’re in decent shape there.
Q. Jack, your point of view?
JACK HARVEY: I mean, it’s a series instigated change, so everyone is in the same boat, right, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a disadvantage when it’s happening up and down pit lane. It just puts a little bit more emphasis on making sure those days are productive and we execute them well. But I don’t necessarily see it as a disadvantage. It’s just a change for the next year really.
Q. Bobby, to think forward for let’s say the following year, not ’22 but ’23, the car is going to be all new. How much interaction have you had with Honda on what’s going to happen, and where are you headed with that, or where are all the teams headed?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, first off, the car won’t be totally new. It was be using the same monocoque; it’ll be using probably the same suspension. The gearbox will be different; obviously the engine will be different.
But I think, and I give Jay Frye’s group a lot of credit for this, they’re trying to — nobody wants to just throw millions of dollars’ worth of cars in the trash can and just start over again. That was like the bad ol’ days of CART where you were spending $4 million a year on cars every year.
But in any event, and I’m sure Chevy is right in the same place, but Honda, they’ve known about this engine program for about a year or so, maybe more. I have a lot of faith in Honda. I think they’re going to be ready. They’ve never let us down certainly.
There have been days where there have been issues over the years. That happens to everybody. But they respond very, very quickly, so as I said earlier, I’m very happy we’re in the Honda camp, and frankly I’m not too worried about that. They may be worried but I’m not because of my belief in Honda, HPD and Honda as a whole.
Q. On a slightly different subject, if one of the tracks were to come available in the east, the northeast or even the mid-Atlantic states, where would you like to go back to?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, of course I love Watkins Glen and I think I’m not the only one. I think there’s a lot that would love to go there. It’s just so unfortunate that we’ve never really — the home of the U.S. Grand Prix, we’ve never really been able to pull a crowd there. It’s a shame because it’s a great circuit.
For me, I keep bugging people. I’d love to see us in Montreal because I think Montreal is a great circuit, number one, and number two, you’d be, I think, assured of a great crowd. When we raced there in, what was it, 2003, 2004, somewhere around there, great crowd, great racing community. That’s kind of like — it’s close to Boston, close to a lot of the parts of the northeast in the States, let alone the Canadian fans. I’d love to see that happen. I have no idea whether it will or not.
I think it’s a shame that over the years — I won the first oval in New Hampshire, which was a great one-mile oval, and then of course they did things to the track to make it more for NASCAR, and that really ruined it for INDYCARs. That’s just the unfortunate part of this is that everything gets changed out, just like Phoenix, same thing happened to Phoenix.
There aren’t many opportunities really to consider in my mind, but you’re kind of always open, and if it’s a great facility with a great promoter that pulls in great crowds, because I think it’s very important that wherever we race, we go where the people come. Road America, great crowd, Mid-Ohio, great crowd, obviously Indy. Our sponsors deserve that, our teams, our fans deserve that.
Anywhere we can draw a crowd, I’d love to be.
Q. Apart from Graham, you are looking at an all new team next year apart from Graham. How confident are you feeling going into next season that this will be a successful season for two new drivers on the team?
BOBBY RAHAL: I’m very confident. Remember, the rest of the team is pretty — they’ve been with us for years. They’re consistent.
While the drivers might be new to us in some way, the people aren’t to a large degree, and so I’m confident that we as a team can help the drivers quickly come to grips with what’s going on. I think they will, as well.
They’re smart guys, and they’re very, very good drivers.
I think everybody on the team is very, very excited about what we see so far, and as I say, by the end of the month, we should be able to announce our third driver, and depending on who that might be, I think in either case, I think that’s going to be exciting for us, too. Yeah, we’re pretty excited about 2022.
Q. For Jack, you had a pretty strong end to the season with Meyer Shank Racing. How confident are you that you can continue all of that momentum in the next seasons with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing?
JACK HARVEY: I’m hoping we start better next season than we ended this season honestly. Momentum is the hardest thing to try and build, so it was nice to finish the season obviously in the strong way like we did. I was excited about it. I think everyone on both sides of sets were excited about it, but then obviously I’m excited to be able to come to a team with some momentum to give everybody that warm and fuzzy, positive vibes and feelings. But also inevitably we want to build on it. We want to win next year. We’re hopefully going to take that and just roll it down a hill and let it snowball and hopefully go to the first race next year and be a contender straight away. Extremely excited for the future. You can never have enough momentum go with you, so pretty happy right now, mate.
Q. Jack, is there any marketing you can do behind being called Jack Hy-Vee?
JACK HARVEY: I’m sure there will be a meme soon about it or something. That was sort of the one that crept up the most today in the comments section. I’ll let you guys decide if that was a coincidence or not, but I thought it was fun.
BOBBY RAHAL: I would just tell you that that was not a consideration (smiling).
JACK HARVEY: Lies. I think it might have been.
THE MODERATOR: We’re going to leave it there. Thanks so much for everyone joining us. Bobby Rahal, Jack Harvey, the newly-named driver of the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda for 2022. Congratulations to both you guys. Thank you.