If you have a question about open-wheel racing, send it to MillersMailbag@Racer.com. We can’t guarantee your letter will be published, but Robin will always reply.
Q: I wasn’t around a whole lot of media at work, so I get home, fire up Facebook and see all the posts (from RACER.com and other sources) and see the IMS road course race announcement. Then I see all the negative comments being left. With all due respect to the people that have followed and loved the sport for decades, shut up. I am the future of IndyCar fandom, not someone who will be pushing up Indiana daisies in 10 years. I watch and go to races, I try to get my friends to join me and watch and let them experience the awesome racing and paddock environment. I like seeing the series take some chances and (heaven forbid) try something NEW! If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, fine move on, but I applaud the effort.
Is the track boring? Yes. Will they make it better? Let’s hope. Will I tune in next May? Hell yes, and my friends will be at my place, beers, brats and burgers in hand. Does it diminish the legacy and prestige and tradition on the Indianapolis 500? In this fan’s mind (and remember, I’ll still be a fan 30 years from now) no, not at all. If all the “fans” of IndyCar would simply focus on the positives and encourage others to become fans, the sport would grow as we all want it to. To those who long for the old days of USAC, they aren’t coming back. Hell, for those who long for the days of CART circa 1991-1995 (and I was a fan THEN) those days aren’t coming back either. The Split hurt, yes, and we are left with the carnage of that, but as fans we all need to help the series move forward by being true fans and not bitchin’ about every little thing that does or doesn’t happen.
Chris, Oak Forest, Ill.
RM: I’m guilty of being an old school naysayer who longs for the 1960s and ’70s and hates the thought of anything in May but the Indy 500. But your letter illustrates what Mark Miles and Randy Bernard before him are faced with trying some new things to get IndyCar a new audience. And there is constant bitching from competitors and older fans so I guess my stance is, I don’t like it or think it’s going to work but I’ll support the May road race with stories and videos for RACER.com. If it works, I’ll admit I was wrong and, if it flops, then hopefully it will be one and done. But I appreciate your youthful view of the sport we are both passionate about.
Q: Well, I guess you were wrong about my idea of road racing at Indy, and an Indy car road race itself. I told you years ago it would make the place more profitable but you poo-pooed it, saying, “That isn’t going to happen.” Let’s see now, Grand-Am soon to be a new series combined, MotoGP, IROC (also known as NASCAR), Indy cars. Maybe F1 will come back? Probably not, but it could.
Bill Abbott, your friend in the woods of Minnesota
RM: It remains to be seen if the IndyCar road race will be profitable or if MotoGP or Grand-Am ever come close to breaking even for IMS. I was hoping the IndyCar road race in May didn’t happen but it is and it’s likely going to take a major title sponsor to make it anything but a financial loser.
Q: Don’t know if you will recall but just about the time the new cars came out, I wrote you about using the road course at IMS for Indy cars. This got me to thinking, did they pay the consultants for that idea? We could let them have it for free! However, since I was correct in predicting the race, then maybe my prediction that IndyCar will sell to NASCAR in three years time will also be true. Just sayin’.
RM: Yes, they paid the Boston Consulting Group a pretty penny ($1.2 million) to suggest raising ticket prices, ending the season on Labor Day and staging an IndyCar race on the road course. Good call, not sure about your NASCAR prognostication but what do you think about the Colts and the points this Sunday?
Q: I was speaking with a friend over some beers last night and we thought about Indy cars in May. We really thought the Month of May needs a shot in the arm to get people excited again but are frowning on the IndyCars on the road course in May. So why not run the road course but let’s run the USCC, MotoGP, Superbikes, NASCAR or anything other than IndyCars on the road course? That should appeal to a much broader fan base and still preserve the only IndyCar race in May as the “500”.
Why not expand on that idea and help out auto racing in the U.S. in general? Let’s give the media and some fans what they want but NASCAR & IndyCar is too stubborn to let it happen. Why don’t we run some double-headers at certain races with the Sprint Cup/IndyCar and run alternating Saturday night/Sunday events at a SELECT number of tracks? Then bring the IndyCars to the road course but in July at night and run it under the lights as a support race to the Brickyard, which also should be at night. Then we could just run the Cup guys in May on the road course (which would still suck as a race but at least it’s something to try because up to this point we are right back where we started 3-10 years ago.)
After that we just gave up, went to White Castle because we just know it would never happen but it would be cool just to pitch the idea out there to the higher ups just to see the reaction.
Gary McDonald, Brownsburg, Ind.
RM: Clearly you had too much to drink Gary because NASCAR is NEVER going to run a double-header with Cup and IndyCar on the same track configuration. But think your July idea of an IndyCar race on the road course during the Brickyard 400 is more sensible and might even help the sagging attendance.
Q: Wow! Holy %*&&#;, Robin, you weren’t kidding! TK is going to Ganassi! I am speechless. What wonderful news and a fabulous move for him. He deserves this ride and will do well for the Chipster. Attending testing this week in Fontana was a neat experience. I forgot how fast the track is! I loved sitting on the roof above the pits. Wish I could afford these seats for next month. I took one of my former students and he had a blast at his first oval. The Q&A session was really small scale (100 people) and all of us were thrilled to be in attendance. Ten drivers spoke with us on a very informal basis. Their interaction with each other, with Gillian, and with us was very interesting and fun. Can’t wait for the race in three weeks.
Deborah, Los Angeles
RM: The reaction of the fans is overwhelming: they’re thrilled T.K. can spend his last few years on a top team. It’s also good for IndyCar. As for Fontana, Gillian Zucker and her staff have really opened their arms to IndyCar in terms of wanting to make the race a success and a staple on the schedule. Not many ISC tracks ever had that attitude and it’s refreshing.
Q: That’s good news about Hinch getting a solid offer and not having to bring sponsorship to get a ride. Any idea which team? Let’s say Hinch is a pretty hot commodity in the IndyCar series now. What kind of money does a top guy like him get? I can’t imagine it’s anywhere in the $1 million range. What do you think a guy like Montoya is going to get? Also, regardless if you got scooped by the AP reporter, you should stand tall as integrity DOES matter.
RM: KV Racing would seem obvious since it made Kanaan an offer without bringing money but Foyt and Rahal/Lanigan/Letterman could be in the mix. IndyCar doesn’t pay anything like it did in the CART era so let’s say the big dogs like Dario and Dixie are likely at $2 million. I think if Hinch could get $500,000-$750,000 that would be big, especially when you consider how underpaid a Justin Wilson has always been.
As for the Kanaan story, I basically wrote that to just show the process of working a story and how sometimes keeping a secret can bite you. But I’ve been lucky in that regard for the most part.
Q: How do you see this title sponsor story playing out? NBC says Verizon and Firestone are in the running but Verizon were mad about Randy leaving. Do you think Mark Miles can get them to change their tune? And Firestone seems like a bigger risk to me. All I have to do is mention the Indy Lights series. How did they benefit from Firestone sponsoring that series outside of the usual prize money and team perks? I would really like to see what Verizon could do for the growth of the series. What do you see happening?
David Lawrence, Albany, Ga.
RM: I’ve said for almost a year that Verizon was serious until Randy’s dismissal and Firestone was in the conversation as well, but don’t think either are players anymore. Don’t see any big lines to sponsor IndyCar for the kind of money IZOD spent and I doubt Miles wants to take a lowball offer just to have a title sponsor.
Q: I think IndyCar fans should take a step back and see the positives of what Mark Miles is trying to do in relation to the off-season international series he wants to start for 2015. Not only does it give us IndyCar fans more racing during the NFL season (which many of us want), it also gives Mark a chance to promote IndyCar racing on another network. This new series would not be part of the original NBC Sports Network contract so he could easily sell this to another major network with a larger audience. And once the NBC Sports contract is up, he could possibly merge the two series together on one network. More racing, more exposure, more opportunities for sponsorship. I think this is a brilliant idea!
Jerry Stell, Williamstown, N.J.
RM: Not sure NBC Sports Network would be out of the mix for international events and with NASCAR on the network by then it could eventually be a good place for IndyCar. But an ABC/ESPN package is obviously desirable as well under the right circumstances/dates/times. A live Thursday night race in January or February could work.
Q: So in the midst of a month of nothing, I hear rumblings of some changes in 2015 while at the same time losing Baltimore and probably Brazil. Not only are we not racing but where is the voice of this series? Who is pushing the throttle and engaging the fans even a little? This is what Randy did for us and the reason we had hope. Mark Miles is not visible like Randy was and this is a big void. So this week I hear that Milwaukee is probably coming back and we’re adding a crap course at IMS to the schedule. We are losing one and probably TWO great markets. This does not make up for the losses.
Done ranting and wish Randy were back!
Mike Nicholas, Fishers, Ind.
RM: No arguing that Randy was the most fan-friendly CEO that IndyCar/CART/IRL/USAC has ever had but even he couldn’t have saved Baltimore or Brazil (if it’s lost). I think Miles is overwhelmed right now with IMS, IndyCar, the schedule, no title sponsor, running Hulman & Company and trying to find a marketing man. Be nice if Randy were still in charge of IndyCar and Mark ran everything else.
Q: I read your article about possible IndyCar venues for 2015. I noticed that Laguna Seca is a possibility. I love that place for its sightlines. I witnessed the best pass I ever saw at a race I attended back in 1996 when Alex Zanardi made an off-course pass, in the sand at the top of the Corkscrew on the last lap to win the race. I imagine if Laguna Seca is added to the schedule, Sonoma will be taken off. But I’m not sure if the problems at Sonoma are even more exaggerated at Laguna. You can’t widen the track at either place and the sand is even more of a problem at Laguna Seca. Which track do you think, between Sonoma and Laguna gives the chance for the drivers to put on a better show?
Gerry Courtney, San Francisco
RM: Before this year I’d say neither offered the chance of a good race but Sonoma was pretty damn entertaining and I think with this car Laguna might be as well. Be nice to have both on the schedule but probably not practical.
Q: That’s some good potential news about 2015. What’s changed in regard to Laguna Seca? A couple of years ago the problem was that the track didn’t have any passing areas. At least that’s what we were told. At the time I thought that was nonsense but what do I know? I also thought there were noise abatement problems. What’s changed?
RM: Hadn’t heard about the noise but the only thing that’s changed between the last Champ Car race and now is that this new Dallara races well everywhere. Sonoma does have a straightaway with a braking zone and that’s something Laguna still needs. I recall a CART race where Max Papis won from the back because of lucky yellows and good pit work but didn’t pass anybody on track to get to the front.
Q: I’m happy to hear in your article about the 2015 schedule that Providence is not only a possibility, but it sounds like it’s rather probable at this point. I think the event has the potential to be very well-attended, especially if it gets the planned second weekend in August (the Monday being a state holiday).? It sounded like there was some discussion of adding it for 2014, but they decided to play it safe and wait until 2015. However, in the past week we learned that not only is the Baltimore event not returning (though the GM of the RI event seems to forget Pocono when mentioning there’s nothing in the east between Toronto and St. Pete), but Lime Rock’s two sports car race weekends are unexpectedly being reduced to zero with the USCC electing not to return to Connecticut. Could these two developments prompt them to consider a 2014 date, or is it simply too late for IndyCar and/or the event to fit it in at this point???
Brandon, Cranston, R.I.
RM: Not going to happen before 2015 because Providence says it wants to do it right with sponsorship and promotion and not rush things.
Q: While it is exciting to see Road America and Laguna Seca as potential for 2015, I have to say that Providence is NOT a substitute for Baltimore. Baltimore is a one-hour drive for me, whereas Providence is more like five. Not really an improvement! Any chance of seeing Indy Car at NJMP? Sports cars go there now and it’s a central location like Baltimore. I remember about 10 years ago, Champ Car tried to get a race in Philadelphia. Any possibility of a Philly race? Just have to make sure the drivers stay with their cars after a wreck…turn your back too long and the rims will be gone! As a mid-East Coaster, Baltimore was a perfect location. On the other hand, this does give me more reason to get my bum up to Pocono next summer…??
Dave Zipf, Newark, Del.
RM: I think we’re all bummed about Baltimore because of the passionate fans and the racy layout but Providence seems a much better option than NJMP, from what I’m told. Philly was Paul Newman’s baby but finally got shot down by politics, so can’t see any chance there.
Q: I’m a Region Rat (Highland, Ind.) and a long time open-wheel fan transplanted to Arizona over 30 years ago. I was fortunate to have the Indy series come to PIR twice a year for nearly 20 years before the Split. Needless to say, the crowds shrank to less than were at the early ’90s Formula 1 races in downtown Phoenix before the France family pulled the plug on it. After 31 years of being a season ticket holder at PIR, I gave the tickets back to the track this year since NASCRAP does nothing for me expect give me a headache. What are the chances, if any, of IndyCar making a return to our one-mile dog-legged track in the desert? No interest? Politics?
RM: There was interest last year about bringing IndyCar back in 2014 (the 50th anniversary of PIR) but it seems to have gone away. Love to go back to one of the best ovals in the country but finding a date between NASCAR races seems to be the challenge.
Q: At the risk of again beating a dead horseif IndyCar wants to finish up by Labor Day then how about scheduling several races in the beginning of the year? Too cold, you say head southwest young man. The weather out in this part of the country is perfect in the early months of the year. Of course, I realize that I am treading on dangerous ground here by even mentioning that four-letter word “oval” but even if they are opposed to having a race or two at actual racetracks such as Phoenix, then I could also recommend the dreaded street circuit as an option.
Paul in Ariz.
RM: I think Houston, Austin and Phoenix could all be potential season openers.
Q: With the rumors of the 2014 schedule set to end on Labor Day, is there anything IndyCar officials are doing to look into starting the season earlier in the year? I know contractually St. Pete is set to be the season opener, but how about running Surfers Paradise in January and having the Brazil race in February? Then have the U.S. opener in St. Pete like in the years past? This would give fans more on-track action as well as give the teams plenty of time to prepare and ship the cars. I’m guessing the only downfall would be additional costs for team owners and finding a race promoters.
Jay, Speedway, Ind.
RM: I think you’ve identified what Mark Miles is looking at for 2015. If they could get two or three races in January-February to lead into the opener, that seems to be the desired scenario. But those races would be to generate money for the teams and their expenses would have to be covered so it wouldn’t cost the owners anything extra.
Q: According to published reports, Leo Hindery and company made the payment to host the Formula 1 race in N.J., yet the same sources seem to express doubt the race will be on the schedule. Whether or not the F1 race will happen, is there any possibility the IndyCar series could hold an event on the same (do we say “proposed”) course? I know there is a history with American open-wheel racing and Mr. Hindery. Are there roadblocks that I’m not aware of? And if I’m the guy who thought of it first, shouldn’t I get a free VIP pass?
David Parker, Jersey City, N.J.
RM: It seems to be on-again, off-again with New Jersey and F1 but if the track does ever get started it would make sense to approach IndyCar. Of course you deserve a pass and an autographed picture from New Jersey’s own Steve Krisiloff.
Q: With talk of some international races, is there any talk of going back to Japan? I don’t hear Japan being mentioned and I enjoyed Twin-Ring Motegi; it was a challenging oval. Is Honda not clamoring to have a race in its home market? If the oval is still damaged from the 2011 earthquake, it would be nice if they could look into racing at either Suzuka or Fuji. Was the time difference a deal-killer for Japan and any other Asian races?
RM: The oval is fine and Honda would probably love to go back but Honda spent a lot of money hosting that race and not sure it’s still got a budget for that. Sato was a big draw at Twin-Ring and he would be at Suzuka as well but whether Mark Miles will approach any other tracks in Japan is uncertain. Makes sense, though, if IndyCar goes back down under make it all one trip.
Q: There were two references to the Nashville Superspeedway in the mailbag for 9/25. Sad to say but the Nashville Superspeedway is closed. I understand that they rent out the track (and only the track) for certain events that can insure themselves. There aren’t any spectator events. We used to run SCCA Solo II events in the parking lot and got kicked out a couple of years ago when they closed. Grrrr
Rob Roten, Spring Hill, Tenn.
RM: Sorry to hear that but thanks for the information.
Q: Finally! No more Mousy Marty on the Mickey Mouse network! How long have you been skewering them? Forever?! I can only hope that an engaging and knowledgeable anchor takes his place for 2014. If ABC is listening (I’m sure they aren’t), check out Brian Till. Former IndyCar driver, and a decent one at that, current ALMS commentator for ESPN (already in the family). He’s called a couple IndyCar races for NBC Sports Network, so he’s up to speed on current IndyCar events. Scott Goodyear was a better driver analyst when he was paired with Paul Page. I think Brian, as a former racer, knows what will draw the best out of a driver analyst. ABC’s ratings should improve proportionally to the change in their lead announcer. Any other candidates?
IndySteve, Springfield, Ore.
RM: I’ve been pretty relentless with my criticism of ABC through the years and it’s been justified, especially if you compare it to NBC Sport Network’s product. Marty Reid did a nice job in NHRA and off road but just never seemed to be on top of things in IndyCar. And there certainly wasn’t much chemistry in that booth. I was very impressed with Brian Till’s play-by-play in his NBC races and he would be an excellent choice. I also think Vince Welch could do a nice job. On the flip side, Marty is a good guy and I wish him well.
Q: With Marty Reid’s duties being relieved in NASCAR, is it a certainty he also called his last IndyCar race? If so, who should take his place? I say bring back Paul Page, since Bob Jenkins is retired.
RM: Yes, he’s gone from ABC/ESPN so it will be somebody new for 2014. Brian Till has been suggested and even though Vince Welch is a solid pit reporter, I think he’d relish the chance to try play-by-play. Don’t think Paul is in the ABC/ESPN family plan anymore.
Q: Thanks for your tribute to George Bigotti. Very educational. It does lead me to some questions I’ve had regarding the transition between crew chiefs/mechanics calling the car setup to engineers taking over. When did “setup engineers” (as opposed to engineers who design cars) first appear in IndyCar? At what point did having a setup engineer become standard practice? If there was a championship for setup engineers, who would have won the most?
Eric On The Road
RM: Hard to pinpoint the exact time but engineers replaced chief mechanics in the 1980s when CART rose to power and road racing team owners like Newman/Haas, Jim Hall, Jim Trueman and Doug Shierson came to Indy cars. Before that, the chief mechanic served as the “setup engineer” and Jud Phillips, A.J. Watson, Bill Finley, Wayne Leary, Mike Devin, Darrell Soppe, Jim McGee, John Martin, Duane Glasgow, Jerry Eisert, Jack Beckley, Herb Porter, John Capels, Roy Campbell, Mark Bridges, Bill Spangler, Bill Fowler, Dick Cecil, Jack Starnes, Chickie Hiroshima, Don Koda, Grant King, Dick Offinger, Howard Gilbert, Paul Brooks, Jess Alou, George Huening, Tommy Smith, Ted Swiontek, Danny Jones, Ted Hall and Bignotti all come to mind as some of the best that I knew. A.J. says George was super smart about engines but he also knew chassis and his record speaks for itself 85 wins.
Q: I had to write you to let you know your tribute to George Bignotti was, to put it simply, beautiful. George hired me at Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing in 1971 (when I first met you in Finley’s garage across Gasoline Alley), and I also was with him at STP Patrick. George made my dream come true and those memories will be with me forever. He was a true genius and gentleman.
Mike aka “Jackets”
RM: Tom Sneva said nobody could out-work George and he was innovative and never afraid to try something new. You saw that firsthand and so did Tim Coffeen. The mechanics seemed very loyal to Bignotti as well, which speaks volumes about how they were treated. And I was lucky enough to stooge for Bill Finley (and drive him crazy with stupid questions), who built Indy cars from the ground up behind his garage on Patricia Street.
Q: Why are you so gung-ho for bringing back the apron at IMS? If I remember correctly, it was taken out for safety reasons to lessen the angle of impact on common spins. In my opinion, this is a better reason to not have the apron than any reason I have seen to bring it back. Do we need more passing? 68 lead changes last year was borderline ridiculous. You always talk about wanting drivers to have more of a challenge, but you want them to have an extra lane to cut the corners short? I don’t get it.
Since the apron did allow drivers to cut the corner a little short, I believe it was an artificial inflator of lap times/speed. I’ve never heard/read anyone else mention this, but it had to be a factor. This is another reason I’d rather see the warm-up lanes stay and the apron stay away. Could you ask around and see what engineers and/or Donald Davidson think about this?
Kyle Jenkins, Shiloh, Ill.
RM: Go watch a YouTube clip of Michael Andretti and Rick Mears, Bill Vukovich and Jack McGrath or Lloyd Ruby and Mario and tell me why you wouldn’t want the apron. It gave drivers another groove and an escape route from a badly pushing car (ask Gordon Johncock about those final 10 laps in 1982). It could also help pump a little life into the Brickyard 400. I don’t care what engineers think, I know what I saw and it was all good. As for the angle of crashes, etc. well that was before the SAFER Barrier and before they got rid of those IRL 500-pound gearbox battering rams.
Q: There seems to be troubled waters ahead for IndyCar over the next year and a half. With IZOD pulling out after this season as title sponsor, and GoDaddy leaving Andretti Autosport after this year, what is your gut telling you about the months and years ahead for Indycar? Do you see any bright spot other than Montoya coming back next season?
RM: I still see the most competitive series in North America that has challenges with sponsorship tied directly to poor television ratings. But it could take a turn for the better after NASCAR joins NBC Sports.
Q: GoPro. Title sponsor. Spread the word so that somebody in IndyCar realizes that the commercial coverages alone would be worth more than any amount of money that GoPro could, or couldn’t, bring for a title sponsorship package. My friends and girlfriend could care less about IndyCar, but every time one of them sees the GoPro commercial of the open-wheel car or GoPro footage of an IndyCar pass during a race they immediately start asking questions about racing and/or the series.
Austin, Columbus, Ohio
RM: It’s a logical suggestion but I’ve got to believe NASCAR teams are all over GoPro and I thought I saw something on Travis Pastrana’s Nationwide car. Of course it looks better from an open-wheel perspective than a tin-top, doesn’t it?
Q: Is Eddie Gossage serious about his threat to not run IndyCar if they go to Austin? Why is he being so pigheaded? I would think both COTA and TMS would be more successful if they cooperate rather than compete with each other. The idea of a Texas Triple Crown, with a street race, road course and oval, is a great marketing opportunity. I would go to all three tracks if the races were spread out on the schedule enough. I went to TMS in June and I’m going to Houston this weekend so why not? I’m sure I’m not the only one, too.
Annie in Fort Worth
RM: There is concern over three Texas races trying to co-exist but I think it could work if they were properly spaced. Eddie has been an IndyCar loyalist since Day 1 and it’s natural he wants the best chance to succeed. I do think he’s serious and IndyCar doesn’t need to lose any more ovals, but the crowds have dropped off sharply in the past couple years so maybe IndyCar sees TMS as expendable.
Q: First, very disappointed that Baltimore has fallen off the schedule. It was a favorite of my son and I. Any chance of it coming back? Second, what was the logic behind IndyCar mandating twin turbochargers for 2014? Seems like it might limit aero kit creativity. Third, what happened to the IndyCar video game that was mentioned during the Randy Bernard days. The Codemasters F1 game (same guys that I thought were doing an IndyCar game) made an F1 fan of my son. After going to the Baltimore race, my son couldn’t wait to drive a DW12 down Pratt Street in the video game. Is it another great idea for building a new, young IndyCar following, that’s now died on the vine?
Pete Arnold, MR
RM: Doubtful Baltimore will be back. Twin turbos for everyone shouldn’t affect aero kits. Not sure about video games but if any reader can add any information it’s much appreciated.
Q: How many years will it be before the IndyCar schedule is 17 road/street races and 1 oval?
RM: Hopefully never but that’s why Iowa and Milwaukee have to remain fluid and Fontana and Pocono must draw enough people to keep going.
Q: I’m going to ask for the 10,000th time so feel free to hit the delete button. Apparently, Sam Hornish doesn’t have anything for next year in NASCAR and it doesn’t sound promising, either. Would anyone consider him for an Indy 500 ride next year if nothing comes together for him in Cup? We know he wouldn’t come back for anything other than the 500.
RM: I imagine Sam would consider a one-off at Indy if he’s got nothing else but I would think his performance in Nationwide the past two years will get him something full time for 2014.
Q: I’m curious if you think the new United SportsCar Championship has a serious chance at becoming more popular than IndyCar in the near term? I’d say no way because of the multiple classes and the timed events, plus IndyCar still has the Indy 500 and some Andrettis and Rahals. But, maybe the France family gets Dale Jr. to run a Chevrolet prototype and all of a sudden sports car races start pulling a 1.0 rating?
RM: I think IndyCar should be very concerned about a united sports car series stealing some of its thunder, fans and sponsors. But there is a nice crossover between IndyCar and ALMS fans, so hopefully we’ll see lots of double-headers in the years to come.
Q: Now I know this is the age-old question. But how has a major open-wheel racing series in the United States (IndyCar) failed so badly to attract car manufacturers? Every major manufacturer wants to be in America and wants to sell cars in America. F1 teams demand it. They have to have races in America. Yet IMS and IndyCar with the greatest race and racetrack at their disposal have failed so badly. Go to the manufacturers. Say, “Right, we have a 500-mile race that still gets decent ratings and 300,000 people turn up to watch.” If you give them somewhere to show off their skill, technology and expertise they will come.
Jed, South Australia
RM: The simple answer is that The Split and subsequent infighting and lack of leadership certainly didn’t endear Detroit or manufacturers anywhere to open-wheel racing. If anything, it drove them away. Randy Bernard met with Ford, Dodge, Audi, Mercedes and Fiat but nobody wanted to pull the trigger. I’m sure Mark Miles and Derrick Walker will explore this territory as well, but right now there doesn’t seem to be much interest. If IndyCar opens up the engine rules in 2015, maybe that draws some new players.
Q: This year we only have Honda and Chevy after Lotus was out due to poor engine reliability. Is there any chance of a new manufacturer coming into IndyCar in the near future? And are there European races like Britain and Germany added in the 2015 schedule?
RM: As I said above, nothing new to report in the immediate future. As for England and Germany, not likely since Miles is talking about January-February-October-November for foreign events and the weather isn’t conducive at those places in that time frame.
Q: Any idea what contributed to Tracy Hines’ brain fade at Eldora in the USAC 4-Crown? He was nipping that Turn 4 wall all night.
RM: You have to run the wall to be quick. Eldora has always been treacherous but it’s even more so today with hardly any cushion. I wasn’t there but I heard it bit Darin Clayton while he was leading as well. Hines is one of the best and it happens.
Q: Are you planning any sort of meet and greet with your readers in Houston for the Grand Prix? Would love to meet you and hear stories.
Bruce Jensen, longtime reader
RM: Thank you for the compliment. IndyCar usually promotes a little Q&A session in the fan village with myself, Townsend Bell and Kevin Lee, so it might happen Saturday. If not, just grab me in the pits.