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Indy Interview Series - Part 5 - Glenn Seton
Michael Shaw

Pic: Michael Shaw
In our continuing series of pre-Bathurst interviews, Michael Shaw caught up with a recovering Glenn Seton at the Honda Indy 300. Seton missed out on the V8Supercar support races at Indy, and the previous Shell Championship Series round at Sandown, due to a massive test accident at Phillip Island. In this interview, Glenn speaks about the effect of that crash on his Bathurst preparations, the pressure for success, the future for FTR, and for V8Supercars in general.

Michael Shaw: We'll start off with that accident (the testing accident at Phillip Island). What were the extent of the injuries?

Glenn Seton: I've got a couple of cracked ribs, just bruising around the rib area, and my rib cage has moved a bit, so we're just trying to put that all back into place at the moment. I had serious concussion that went on for a week. Besides that, very lucky, that's about it. Bit of whiplash in the neck, which is still hanging around today, but besides that, it's all starting to heal very well.

Pic: Michael Shaw
MS: How much of the car could be salvaged?

GS: There are bits and pieces, like the engine. There's nothing wrong with the engine, the gearbox, (and) the diff. Most of the bodyshell's throwaway, we could repair it if we wanted to but it's not really worth it, the car's had a couple of hits before, so we're going to reshell that. Most of the suspension components are all in good shape, it's mainly taken all of the impact on the body. So most of it will be recoverable into another bodyshell.

MS: What's it like being team manager only for a change?

GS: Well, I'm not so much the team manager, I just come along to the races to help out in the last couple of races. It's been a long while since I've been in this position I suppose, as in not racing. It's been eleven years since I've missed out on a touring car round, so it's been quite a long while. At the moment, with my body in the shape it's in I'm quite happy to be like this, but I'd definitely rather be out there driving than sitting around waiting for everything to heal to get out there, that's for sure.

I've been driving for so long now, it's been just a part of the job. When you have an incident like this or something that stops you fairly radically, it's makes you feel that you do want to keep doing what you're doing.

"It hasn't stopped preparation as in the team at all for Bathurst. We're still going down the same road, and we'll be very well prepared for Bathurst. But as in my own fitness, only time will tell."
MS: How much has the crash affected the preparations for Bathurst, not just for the car but for yourself?

GS: Preparation for Bathurst as in fitness wise is going to be my biggest problem. As in the team itself, nothing because we're building a new car, which is just about ready and that was to run at Bathurst. The car that I crashed wasn't going to Bathurst, it was going to be mainly a spare for next year, which we'll reshell that over Christmas, and have a spare car for next year.

It hasn't stopped preparation as in the team at all for Bathurst. We're still going down the same road, and we'll be very well prepared for Bathurst. But as in my own fitness, only time will tell.

Pic: Mark Alan Jones
MS: How much input does Ford have into Ford Tickford Racing?

GS: Depends on how you want to talk about input. We talk to them on the basis of picking drivers, marketing, that sort of side of it as much as we can when we can get together. But pretty well we're left alone to do what we've got to do.

MS: And how much pressure has there been from Ford in general to be the first to win a race?

GS: There's been a huge amount of pressure, no doubt about that.

Pic: Mark Alan Jones
MS: And how much pressure is there now, for this team to win a race now that Ford has finally broken through?

GS: Hard to really say because it's never been spoken of. The pressure on a race team doesn't come all from the sponsor; it comes from the people involved who are out there to win races, and to do the right thing for the business of FTR.

I want to win a race more than they do, to tell you the truth, because I've been very, very successful since the introduction of V8Supercar racing since 1993. Since then we've won the most amount of races for Ford, and really, the last couple of years has been a but of a drought, and that droughts just been through it's a new car, it's a new team, and it's reestablishing itself.

And when you look back over the Holden Racing Team, they started in '89, and they didn't have success until '96. That's no excuse for us not to win a race in '99 or 2000, it's just the competition out there now is very, very hard and very fierce, and we haven't been in a position to win a race bar Winton this year.

Winton this year we were in a position (to win) and one of the back running cars dumped some oil on the road, or some lubricant on the road, and while we were leading we slipped off and ended our chances of winning a round of the championship and being the first Ford this year to win a round of the championship. It's not as if we haven't been in a position, we've been on the podium a hell of a lot of times this year, but when you haven't won a race, people forget about the consistent finishes that you do have.

Pic: Mark Alan Jones
MS: Well, you were doing very well, running third in the championship...

GS: Second most of the year, then dropped down to third the last couple of rounds, now fourth because of missing Sandown. But the reason we were in that position is that we were consistently up there and consistently on the podium.

Like I say, people forget about that, people just believe that it's do or die to win races. I'm out there to win races, don't get me wrong. Some people say I'm out there as the best points gatherer, that's not true. I'm driving the car that I've got as hard as I can to win, and the best I can produce at the moment is (being) in the top three finishes, in a lot of rounds of the touring car championship. Once the car is in a position to challenge for the lead, we will challenge for the lead.

"There are people out there that think Glenn Seton is a points gatherer, that's far from the truth. Glenn Seton... can win races. But at the moment, we aren't in a position to win races; the car isn't good enough to win races at the moment."
MS: You've finished in the top three in almost every championship, except one I think, since the inception of the category. What would you put that down to?

GS: I put that down to the teams a very consistent team that has done a good job over the years. At the end of the day, if you look down on it, we've had cars that have been reasonably reliable, bar Bathurst.

Bathurst has been our hoo doo round; there's no doubt about that. But besides that, we've been quite reliable at most rounds, we've had cars that have always been up the front at most of the rounds, and finished usually on the podium at most rounds.

That's what really puts us down to finishing consistently in the touring car championship every year. I think that's a credit to the team, to tell you the truth. Because I think at the end of the day, it's good to win some races, but I think consistency in the public eye is better than one race a year to win, and then not be up there for the rest of the races.

But don't get me wrong. There are people out there that think Glenn Seton is a points gatherer, that's far from the truth. Glenn Seton is, and has shown in the past, can win races. But at the moment, we aren't in a position to win races; the car isn't good enough to win races at the moment.

MS: With the departure of Neil Crompton, do you have anyone in particular in mind for the seat?

GS: Yeah, we've got two guys on the short list at the moment, one guy which we'll test in two weeks time is Marcus Ambrose. We'll test him, and see how he goes. Ford Tickford Racing are going for youth for 2001, and we'll build up from there. That's our plan at the moment.

Pic: Mark Alan Jones
MS: Neil did a lot of work for Channel 10, and put Ford Tickford Racing up on television a lot. Are you looking for that in your new driver as well, to help with that?

GS: I'm look for the new driver to be competitive, and to get both cars running at the front. Not saying that Neil couldn't do that at all. Ford are looking for youth, and that's the road were going down.

MS: Is there anyone that you're looking for in the future, three or four years down the track. Anybody in Formula Ford that you're looking at?

GS: As I say, the first step for car 6 next year is to have a young person in it to build into FTR for long term. That is the plan, and depending how long I race for, I probably have another five years in me I believe, and then in the next few years we'll look for people to replace myself.

MS: Are you looking towards starting a Lites team to help find this person?

GS: That is probably there, but not for next year.

Pic: Michael Shaw
MS: Project Blueprint is probably the biggest thing that's come along to change the category this year, has it been working so far?

GS: Project Blueprint hasn't been (fully) implemented yet. Little bits and pieces are going into this year's racing. The first part of Project Blueprint is to try and make the cars engineeringly the same as much as we can. It started with the front spoiler, the Falcon have just recently got what they call a TEGA front spoiler, which is the same as what the Commodore are running (from the spoiler mounting down). So that's the start of Project Blueprint.

Aero testing was done recently to assess both cars aerodynamically, and there's areas where the Commodore is superior to the Falcon, and there's areas where the Falcon is superior to the Commodore, there's two areas we've got to sort out first of all.

Then we've got the double wishbone front suspension, that will start to come into play mid-next year on the Commodores. So engineeringly the suspensions are all identical positioning and everything like that, in the same concept. Then I'd imagine the next step would be the engine side of it.

The engines are evened up. How you do that, that's hard to really say, but that's probably the next step. So it's not a thing that's happening now, it's a thing that's probably by 2002 all cars, engineering wise, will be identical, as much as they can, bar the bodyshell.

"I think it's a must to have more manufacturers in this category, for the long-term future of the sport."
MS: What do you think of the new Shell Series format?

GS: I think it's good. I probably think the races aren't quite long enough. I think they should be two long races, not quite sure about the compulsory pit stops, but I'll go along with it and see how it goes. I'm not in favour of any reverse grids, I don't know whether that's happening next year, but I'm not a fan of that, I don't think that is a part of entertainment really. I don't think it's worked so far, reversing the top six (in race two).

But as in the concept of where we're going, I think it's good. Next year's calendar cost wise is going to cost people a lot more money than it is this year, because the races, especially the end of next year, the races are so close together. We're going from Indy to New Zealand to Sandown, and Bathurst before that. It's going to be really expensive to do that.

People who sit back and think it's not going to cost more money are kidding themselves, it's going to be quite an expensive next year.

MS: What about the top ten and fifteen shootouts?

GS: I think it's great. I brought that up probably three years ago now, that it should be part of the series. It's taken too long to come in, I reckon it's a great concept.

MS: What about the possibility of Bathurst going to top fifteen?

GS: I think it's a good idea. Ten's probably enough, but fifteen, if it's what the people want, we'll see how it runs. I think the time it takes to run fifteen through, it might become a little bit boring, that's the only concern I'd have.

MS: Should Bathurst be part of the championship?

GS: Yeah, I think Bathurst should be part of the championship, I don't think Bathurst should be a separate event. Because if you say Bathurst shouldn't be part of the event, then you say Adelaide shouldn't be part of the event, then you'll say Canberra should be part of the event. I think the races like the Adelaide's are as big an event as Bathurst, and in the future I think they'll probably be a bigger event than Bathurst. So to isolate Bathurst out to be a one off big event I think is wrong, and not a credible thing on the basis of Adelaide and Canberra, which are two very big events. I think it should be part of the championship.

Pic: Mark Alan Jones
MS: And 32 car grid limits?

GS: I think it's a great idea, and I think it's probably one year too late to come in.

MS: And what about returning next year to Indy, and in general to the non-championship races?

GS: I support going up to the Grand Prix, it's a good event, and it's on a good circuit. I'm not a fan of the Indy event to be truthful, and I think the expense to come here, and be here from Wednesday right through until Sunday, and the amount of running we do. At the end of the day, we are not the number one cars, and yet the spectators come here to watch the V8Supercars more than the Indy Cars to tell you the truth, and that's what the public say.

The potential of destroying cars here is very, very, very high, as has been shown in the past. So, we should be coming here, we'll it's hard to say, but I'm not a supporter about Indy.

MS: One last question, what do you think of the addition of a third or fourth manufacturer to the series?

GS: I think it's a must, I think it's a must to have more manufacturers in this category, for the long-term future of the sport.

MS: And what rule changes, what should be allowed? Should it run similar to what Project Blueprint is going for?

GS: It's gotta run similar to Project Blueprint. I think the engine side of it needs to be looked at, because there's manufacturers out there that wouldn't want to run a pushrod two-valve engine. That is going to be a hard one to climb over, and I would see that being the hiccup. This car needs to be a minimum dimension, so we don't end up with small cars. I think it's a must that we do have more manufacturers long term. The only hiccup is the engine side of it, how we get over that. In the next twelve months I'm sure AVESCO/TEGA will sit down and work out how we're going to achieve that, because there is interest out there from other manufacturers to get involved.

Opinions expressed on do not necessarily represent the opinions of the V8Supercar Pick 10 project or its contributors.