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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Buddy Rice
Buddy Rice
Winner of the 2004 Indianapolis 500

July 19, 2004

Buddy Rice

It is a great honor to be at the White House and to take questions from everyone. Thanks for sending your questions.

Cameron, from Washington, DC Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice participates in "Ask the White House." writes:
Buddy congratulations on winning the Indy 500 and on your recent win a couple of weeks ago. How did you get into racing first of all and secondly what has your experience been like to work with people like Bobby Rahal and David Letterman?

Buddy Rice
I got started in racing because my Dad is an old school driver and he's the one that got me interested.

To be able to work with such a big team has given me a chance to win races -- their experience is the biggest difference. It has been a great year so far at Rahal -- Letterman.

Mike, from Iowa writes:
What's the fastest you've ever driven in an Indy car?

Buddy Rice
241 mph last year. It feels like you are driving down the freeway until you spin out or crash because that's when everything really speeds up. Before then it is a very controlled environment.

Justin, from Poconos writes:
Two questions Buddy: 1. Who is the toughest driver out there? 2. Did you think that when the Fonz tried jumping over the shark tank that "Happy Days" was over? I think that was the stupidest moment in TV.

Thanks on both

Buddy Rice
Hi Justin

Probably one of the toughest drivers out there is Tony Kannan and Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish.

David, from China Grove writes:
Buddy There is a rumor that you are thinking of running for Governor in Arizona. Is it true?


Buddy Rice
No. I'm a little busy with my current occupation.

Darrell, from Parkersburg, West Virginia writes:
Congrats to you Buddy This was my 27th consecutive Indy 500 and you made it another enjoyable one.My question... how is your relationship with Eddie


Again, we are very proud of you and hope you catch Tony in the points race

Buddy Rice
Eddie and I are not on speaking terms. The points championship is going to be tight all the way to the end. We're only half way through. We have a solid shot of winning the championship.

Cliff, from Brimfield Ohio writes:
Hi BuddyIts about 500 miles from Indianapolis to Washington. So it must have taken you what 5 hours to get there for this? I know the White House hires limo drivers but and Indianapolis 500 winner. You must be the back up driver incase Air Force One brakes down. But on the serious side. How has winning the Indianapolis 500 changed your life? Are you able to venture out in public or go shopping at WalMart with out to much hassle?

Thank You

Buddy Rice
Hi Cliff

I am still able to go out. Every now and then someone recognizes me. But I'm not really a rock star. And I really don't look the same that I do on the race-track.

Ed, from Chicago writes:
What is the best piece of racing advice Bobby Rahal has given you?

Buddy Rice
Hi Ed

Restarts are the best way to make up positions.

Karen, from Indianapolis writes:
Over the course of the next year, do you think the engineers will be able to get more speed out of the new three liter engines? Do you ever think we will see speeds of 230 again?

Buddy Rice
Yes, I feel that the speeds will keep climbing with the 3 liter engine because of the way Honda works they are constantly working at getting the speed and power out of them.

Steven, from Bristol, CT writes:
What do you say to those people who say that racing is not a sport?

Buddy Rice
Tell them to go to the local go kart track and ride a go kart. That will show you how out of shape you are.

Abby, from Norfolk writes:
You participate in a very dangerous sport. Look at what happened to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. yesterday, for example. How do you handle that? Every race could be your last. Does it affect you at all?

Buddy Rice
No it does not affect me. It is a risk that comes with the job. It is unfortunate when accidents happen but it is part of the business.

Kendra, from Indianapolis, In writes:
What is the scarriest moment you have had on a race track?

Buddy Rice
Fortunately, never really had one too scary. I got into a crash in Phoenix in January 2003. It wasn't really too scary, it just sucked.

Shannon, from Indianapolis writes:
My son is 7 12 years old and has been racing go-karts since he was 5. He is first in points in the kid kart class out at New Castle Motorsports Park, Mark Dismore's track, and is obviously doing very well. My question is what advise can you give him to help keep him on the right track to racing?

Buddy Rice
Stay focused and drive as much as you can. That's how I started. I was 12.

Terri, from Indianapolis writes:
What is the hardest part about qualifying at Indianapolis?

Buddy Rice
Hi Terri

Being consistent through all four laps. At Indianapolis you have to qualify for four laps and being consistent is the toughest.

Todd, from Savannah writes:
What do you like better, a short track or a super speedway?

Buddy Rice
Hi Todd

Super Speedway because of the speeds and everyone runs together.

Scott, from Detroit writes:
I hear drivers say that a car is loose or a car is pushing. What does that mean?

Buddy Rice
Hello Scott

When it is pushing it doesn't want to turn, the front lacks grip. Loose means the car is stepping out or trying to pass the front, it doesn't have as much grip as the front so it is basically trying to make it crash.

Don, from Indianapolis writes:
I watched the race Saturday at Nashville and I would like to know why the track there is concrete instead of normal asphalt? It seemed to wear the tires down so much quicker, which can be dangereous. Do you prefer driving on the concrete to asphalt?

Buddy Rice
Nashville is a unique track because it is concrete and it is very hard on tires because the way they designed the track. But I think that it is definitely safer on the pavement because it has less marble and doesnt eat the tires like Nashville does.

Mark, from Chicago writes:
Buddy, Congrats on the 500 victory. Fantastic moment with Dan Wheldon in

Nashville on Saturday. Do you think that the 4-car AndrettiGreen team didn't change tires on Wheldon's car to get him out in front of you to slow you down on the restart? I mean come on, everyone had tire issues and you had to know that he couldn't make 90-plus laps on one set. It had to be a case of AG Racing of just sacrificing one car to prevent you from getting a good restart.

Buddy Rice
I would agree with you that they were using team tactics to hold up the winning car and they got what they wanted with their strategy.

Patrick, from Denver, CO writes:
7 months ago, you were an unemployed race car driver. Then you got another chance which you have capitalized on fully. Do you ever feel like saying

"See, I told you I was a good race car driver?"

Buddy Rice
I think that what we've done this year proves that. I think that when opportunity arises you need to take full advantage of it.

Mike, from Dallas writes:
Can you convince the President to come to TMS this October to watch you win the final IRL race of 2004?

Buddy Rice
I'm not certain I have the clout, but I'll try.

Ann, from Denver writes:
What is the most difficult thing about your job as a race car driver? What is the neatest thing you have done since winning the Indianapolis 500?

Buddy Rice
Throwing the pitch out at Yankee stadium and coming here to the White House.

Buddy Rice
Thanks for all your questions and hopefully I can see all of you soon.