Panther Pack Team Q&A;


Have a question about the difference between the IndyCar and the Pro Series ride? Curious about what the Panther drivers do away from the track? We select some of the questions that have been submitted and share the answers to those questions on the site. If you have a question of your own, you can submit your QUESTIONS here.

Displaying questions 1-10 (of 644 total):

Q. Dude, the free Hildebrand poster giveaway is sweet. I actually got one at the track in Indy but was happy to get a few more. What made you think about doing that?
A. (6-30-2011) Honestly, we had a pile of poster boxes sitting in our office and I was scared they'd go to waste if we didn't start giving them out to fans who wanted them. For anybody who wants a poster, here is how: /news/index.cfm?cid=43783

Q. What a run by JR and Panther in Iowa! I knew this young American kid was going to be the next star of open-wheel. I heard somebody report after that both Dario and Briscoe were pissed and came up to Hildebrand after the race. You gotta tell us what they said, because they were just pissed they'd been beat by a rookie! He was clean!
A. (6-30-2011) Yes, Dario and Briscoe came by to say hello. Honestly, Dario was very complimentary. He had one bone to pick, but shook JR's hand and told him he had a helluva drive on two occasions while they were talking. Briscoe was upset when he initially came over about the moment where JR pinned him high while passing the lapped car of Viso, but about an hour after the race Briscoe came by the transporter and apologized to JR for being so upset. There are no remaining issues with anybody I can assure you and I bet a lot of those guys have a new-found respect for the guy in the No. 4 car.

Q. I can tell you're tired of talking about it, but on this Q&A; you encourage us to ask anything, so here goes - why didn't you even think about protesting the Indy 500 finish? Isn't it obvious that Wheldon passed both Kimball, an active car, and JR, a disabled car, all after the yellow? This seemed obvious to us sitting across the front straight. We're talking about the 500 here and Panther has been so close.
A. (6-30-2011) It's Indianapolis ... the winner drinks milk and kisses the bricks and celebrates with the 500,000 people in the stands. It's not about protesting the finish, having a court hearing and then what? ... Show up at the Speedway someday when it's empty for a 'victory' photoshoot? No thanks. We asked officials to review the finish immediately after but didn't consider protesting for two seconds. Dan Wheldon is the winner of the 2011 Indy 500, and we congratulate both Dan and his team, as they deserved to be the ones kissing the bricks.

Q. What happens to all of the broken pieces after a crash? I would imagine that a lot of the pieces are unusable again and would have to be scrapped or tossed. Not that I would ever wish any bad fortune on Panther, but I would think that one of the end plates of the rear wing with the #4 on it would look really good hanging up on the wall in my garage. Great race by JR in Iowa this past weekend!
A. (6-30-2011) A variety of things. A lot more can be repaired than you would think, but as you indicated, a lot of it ends up hanging on office walls, in garages, donated to silent auctions, given to sponsor VIPs, etc. In 2008 because of a conflict Vitor Meira missed an appearance with about 50 fans prior to the race in Chicagoland - we eventually crashed in the race, and to make-up to the fans we missed that day, we cut up broken parts of the car and made key chains out of the them for the fans we missed that day.

Q. What new or old tracks do you want to see back in indycar?
A. (6-30-2011) That's one of those questions where you'll get a different answer depending upon who you talk to, but let me try to answer with respect to the general consensus in/around IndyCar: Richmond, Michigan, Watkins Glen, Phoenix, Road America .... Of those, I believe Richmond and Watkins are a must and it's borderline unacceptable that they're not part of the IndyCar schedule. I know Phoenix and Michigan have a different - yet similiar - set of challenges, but the attendance, racing and atmosphere at Richmond at Watkins was always stellar.

Q. It has been discussed that Buddy Rice will be in the #44 again later in the year. Are there any discussions or movement in regards to him being in a 2nd full-time Panther Racing entry in 2012?
A. (6-30-2011) Yes, that has been discussed, but there is no way to estimate its likelihood. People in racing will always tell you that they want to run more races with certain drivers but that's always dictated by sponsorship. And you'll always hear that a 'deal's close' but, relatively speaking, nothing is 'close' in racing until you have cash in hand. We've had more than one signed contract that effectively amounted to nothing. We had a full deal secured with a sponsor to run PJ Chesson in 2008, and we were excited to have him as a teammate to Vitor that year, but we kept waiting and the cash never arrived. We did everything we could, and PJ did everything he could, to make it happen .... but, ultimately, one entity has to deliver to make it happen.

Q. Congrats on a great race in Iowa! With the shift back to road courses coming up, what will Panthers approach be to improve positions on those?
A. (6-30-2011) Thanks, Iowa was a great weekend for us and it was nice to rebound from a few uncharacteristically poor weekends in Texas and Milwaukee. We're very focused on improving our performance on the road and street courses, but obviously can't get too specific. Let's just say we've made partnerships and traveled to great lengths to ensure that there is some improvement.

Q. Big Fan oF JR's Sunglasses, what brand are they!?
A. (6-30-2011) JR wears Spy sunglasses ( and he was nice enough to get everybody on the team a pair early in the year. He also gave everybody at Panther a watch a few weeks ago from another company he has a good relationship with, Nixon watches, which are really cool. Take a look:

Q. Wasn't JR Hildebrand's great-grandfather a German balloon maker?
A. (6-30-2011) No, he actually wasn't, but he always dreamed that his grandson would appear in Reuters, Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine very frequently. Haha. I hope all is well Lewis and look forward to seeing you at the track soon.

Q. JR seems to do a lot of swimming - if there were other drivers doing it would he pose for a Indycar driver swimsuit calendar?
A. (6-21-2011) JR was actually in the office when this question came in. After a good laugh, I believe his answer was something along the lines of, "Absolutely not." .... That's Scheckter territory.