Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 1 presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 1 presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 1 presented by Honda Racing/HPD

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Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag as presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, Calif.-based company at and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and . Your questions for Robin should continue to be sent to We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you.

And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, remember that Marshall Pruett tackles them in his Tech Mailbags. Please send tech questions to

Q: You win the prize for your prediction of Pagenaud to Penske a couple weeks ago and the Chipster didn’t lie either. Simon deserves this ride with The Captain and Penske will be the team to beat again next year. OK that is the main domino. Who’s next?

Deb Schaeffer

RM: Always nice to get a little scoop on The Captain because it’s very rare and we talked on the phone last night about the promising prospects of Power and Pagenaud for the next several years. The main domino would be James Hinchcliffe, who is being pursued by Schmidt Peterson and KVSH Racing while Andretti Autosport (at least, John Lopes) is still trying to find funding to keep him. The best available seat is No. 8 with Ganassi and I think the longer Ryan Briscoe goes unsigned the better it looks for Sage Karam.

As Marshall Pruett wrote on yesterday, Jack Hawksworth is headed for one of A.J. Foyt’s two ABC cars and Justin Wilson is apparently in the frame at Andretti. Oriol Servia or Briscoe might be a fit at KV if Hinch goes to SPM while Conor Daly, Martin Plowman, Gabby Chaves and Zach Veach are all hoping for a shot somewhere. Sebastian Saavedra has money and Gary Peterson but no home as yet. If Mike Conway goes to sports cars, then J.R. Hildebrand could be stepping in at Carpenter/Fisher/Hartman.    

Q: I had a bit of a revelation recently and it’s one that isn’t talked about. Chevrolet supplies Penske and Ganassi, two of the three biggest teams in IndyCar right now. The Bow Tie Brigade picked up Simon Pagenaud with Penske (as you predicted) and Josef Newgarden a few days ago when Sarah Fisher merged with Ed Carpenter. So where does that leave Honda? It seems to be powering the underdogs and every year we seem to hear about one more team/driver jumping ship to Chevrolet.

It seems like only a matter of time before Honda decides it’s not worth pursuing IndyCar anymore. With Honda’s return to F1, they are going to be devoting their time and resources into that program. If IndyCar is nothing but losses, why would Honda stick around? It seems to me without a consistently strong team, the big story next year could be Honda’s announcement they’re leaving IndyCar. Losing Honda wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but it would certainly hurt IndyCar. I don’t see any other manufacturers being willing to fill the gap, especially if none of the big teams are free agents for new engines.

IndyCar is trying to grow and attract new OEMs: losing Honda (a loyal partner for 20 years), would certainly hamper that. It’s been two years since Lotus bailed and there have been plenty of rumors of new OEMs supplying engines, but nothing bearing fruit. With that in mind, is A) IndyCar able to do anything to push one of the big teams back to Honda? B) Are there any other OEMs who would be able to fill Honda’s place, or maybe cannibalize a few Chevy teams to help level the playing field (and maybe expand the car count)? And C) How bad do you think it would be if Honda left IndyCar to focus on Formula 1? Would it be a death blow or would nobody notice?
Dave Zipf, Newark, DE

RM: Right now, it looks like Ryan Hunter-Reay vs. everyone else doesn’t it? That’s why it’s imperative for Honda that Hinch goes to SPM or stays with Andretti. They need at least two bullets to combat all of Chevy’s firepower unless Marco and Graham come to life. And you bring up what a lot of us have worried about for a few months: if Honda keeps getting its butt kicked or losing its top drivers, will it stay past 2015? The Honda F1 program is separate from Honda Performance Development and American Honda, yet Japan has the final word. Finally, yes it would be a HUGE blow to IndyCar if Honda left. Considering the marketing, advertising, title sponsorships and team support for the past 20 years, Honda has been invaluable to IndyCar racing and would be very difficult to replace in this day and age.   

Q: I am a big Honda fan and was a big fan of Simon Pagenaud until Monday. When you look in your crystal ball, does the defection of Pagenaud AND Roger Griffiths from the Honda IndyCar effort say anything about Honda’s long-term commitment to the series?
Ed Joras

RM: Obviously it’s a major blow to lose Pagenaud and Newgarden but Honda has never been about one driver or one team or one engineer. It’s a proud company that’s always enjoyed a fight but, at the end of the day, it’s about results isn’t it?

Q: I’m confused about UFD and their participation in IndyCar. They tweeted out “United Fiber & Data will indeed be back for many more years in IndyCar it’s an amazing series with the best drivers and product for racing!” Yet I hear Hinch is mulling a deal with Schmidt to replace Pagenaud. If UFD is staying in the sport, are they not staying with Andretti to provide the funding for Hinch’s car? Why would Hinch go to SPM if UFD were totally supportive of him and Andretti? Or is UFD going with Hinch to SPM?
Jason Branch, Ocala, Fla.

RM: You raise some very good questions. If, indeed, UFD was solid and coming back why would Hinch be looking for a ride? As he said last summer, nobody is going to voluntarily become a free agent and Michael is the one who didn’t pick up Hinch’s option. He wanted to stay. Is it a question of getting rid of the UFD girls or paying Hinch a better salary? I’ve heard UFD is smoke and mirrors and I’ve also heard it’s booming. It’s a very strange scenario and we keep hearing Andretti guarantees three full-timers for 2015 with a fourth car a work in progress.  

Q: Since Penske now appears to have four cars and Andretti is seeking to maintain that many, both teams may compose of more than a third of the field — assuming 24 cars go full time. I’m not complaining but how’s it possible for these “super teams” to exist given the TV ratings for the series, and entities like IMS to reporting they’re in the black for the first time in years??
Rob Peterson, Rochester, NY

RM: The Captain will now join Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti as four-car efforts so that’s more than half the field. Target is Chip’s godsend, R.P. is a billionaire and I have no idea how Michael makes it work but DHL got a nice boost with RHR winning Indianapolis so maybe they rob Peter to pay Paul. Or, in this case, Marco, Munoz and whomever drives that fourth car (if it happens).

Q: Well the Silly Season dominos are starting to tumble in IndyCar and what strikes me as odd is most of it seems to be centered around teams looking to add cars. Andretti talking about running five cars and Penske confirmed he will run four cars in 2014. A.J. Foyt is looking to add a second car and KVSH entertaining the idea of adding a third car. When last I looked it takes money to send those Put-Puts around the track. Have you or Marshall Pruett picked up wind of an influx of new sponsors to support these cars? I expect sponsorship activity to pick up after TV ratings show a steady increases for several seasons and IndyCar had a very good year TV-wise in 2014 but one good year is one good year. New sponsors want to see a trend before ponying up. Anything happening?
Bob Fremont, Calif.

RM: It is rather odd that there seems to be expansion because, let’s be honest, the higher TV numbers on NBCSN pale in comparison to NASCAR’s so it’s not like IndyCar is great bang for your buck. I haven’t heard of any new biggies coming aboard for anyone and R.P. could easily fund four cars out of his petty cash if he wanted but maybe he got a bump from Verizon or he’s found some new money. ABC Supply is one of the best sponsors in the series and may have “encouraged” A.J. and Larry Foyt to add another full-time car. I think Andretti’s five-some would be for Indy only and Jimmy Vasser says KVSH is getting close to a fully-funded second car so he and Kevin Kalkhoven have found something.

Q: So 1.1 million viewers watched a taped-delayed sports car race on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of football season?  Surely you jest. So Mark Miles, can you please tell me that part again where racing on TV loses viewers during football season? In this day and age, with the internet and social media telling everyone instant results. Oh I can see your point that the NFL is in direct competition with racing, especially Indy cars. (That wasn’t sarcastic was it?) Sorry Robin, I don’t like this guy one bit. Yeah the racing is good, yeah there are multiple winners, and yeah I know I live in the past, and this is a new day and age, and give the guy a chance, but IndyCar is not on TV, not on the radar, and people, myself included, are tuning into other forms of racing. Why is this guy good for IndyCar racing? Cause I don’t see it.
Kris, Orlando, Fla.

RM: That was pretty telling wasn’t it? Of course it was on network (FOX) and IndyCar gets four to five times more people watching it on ABC than NBCSN. But the fact the race was run on Saturday and the results were obviously available and it still got that kind of number indicates what I’ve been saying all along: IndyCar and sports car fans will watch regardless of whether it’s summer or fall, live or taped.   

Q: Like most fans, I wish the IndyCar season was longer and feel for the crew members to have such a long downtime. How is this different than a couple of decades ago? Maybe I am remembering wrong, but most seasons were shorter back in the early ’70s when I started following racing. Can-Am had 9-11 races in a five-month-span and F1 had fewer races. The USAC season was longer, but in the early CART days, there weren’t that many races. What did teams do then? Did they lay off crews? Are team members paid over 12 months regardless of the length of the season? 
Paul Lewis, Macon, Ga.

RM: In the 1970s (ABOVE, Bobby Unser at Ontario in ’74) and much of the 1980s, the season ended in November and then many teams started building their new cars or modifying the ones they had. And crews consisted of a handful of skilled mechanics/fabricators so there were no layoffs because there was no downtime. Build a car during the winter, maybe test it in February and start racing it in March. Nowadays, some mechanics are salaried on bigger teams for a year but just as many work month-to-month.

Q: How about at least one race in Canada (should be at least three there each year anyway) and one in Mexico (maybe two) after Labor Day, and bring the final race of the season back to the U.S. and run it on a Saturday, crowning the champ? No NFL conflict there but you could extend the season by at least four to six weeks on the back end. Bring the sports cars and Lights to every street and road course. Weekend “festivals” give a lot of bang for the buck, and draw big crowds. Co-promote and cross market all the ovals, concentrating first in the midwest (easy fan travel among the ovals) to begin to rebuild your base, offering big discounts and free ticket promotions, as previously discussed in the Mailbag. No, I am not a brain surgeon. And obviously, by suggesting this simple plan that seems to make a lot of sense, you know I don’t work for IndyCar either. How many years are going to pass before any ray of common sense appears in IndyCar management?
Jim, Indianapolis

RM: You need a Mexican driver of some stature to go back to Mexico City and three times a year in Canada would be great provided Calgary, Quebec City or maybe Mosport would want to give it a go. Those three have all been mentioned lately. As far as ending the season, a Saturday or Sunday in November is fine, just make sure it’s a venue that can draw at least 30,000 so it looks and feels like a big deal. Common sense in IndyCar racing? Get serious.

Q: I enjoy your mailbag articles on and I am a huge IndyCar fan and a marshal in Canada as well. My question is have you heard any more rumblings about IndyCar coming to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park [Mosport] or is it a done deal? My next question is what does CTMP need to do safety wise so IndyCar will go up there?
Terry Murphy, Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada

RM: It was contingent on whether Toronto could find a date so I guess we just have to wait and see what the schedule says when it comes out next Valentine’s Day. If Toronto is good to go, then no Mosport, which needs additional or improved runoff areas, first and foremost.  

Q: I fully agree with Nick from San Diego who suggested in the Sept. 17 Mailbag that the season finale be held in Indianapolis. All the points he raised were spot-on. It is called IndyCar, after all. Where else but Indy should the finale be held? I think it would be a big success. However, I suggest rather than running the road course, they run the oval in the opposite direction for 100 laps/250 miles: nothing but right turns at a fast pace with no fuel saving. It could be an all-out sprint. Is it possible to configure the track to run in this direction without major investment? I’m not sure if any series has ever run an oval in the opposite direction, but I suspect it would get a lot of pre-race coverage in the media just for the novelty of it…and great attendance. The GP Indy can remain in May.
Jeff, Port St. Lucie, FL

RM: If the season is always going to stop on Labor Day, then closing at IMS makes sense but not on the oval. Something about Indianapolis needs to remain sacred and one oval race per year – in May – for 500 miles is enough. And I don’t think three IndyCar races at IMS would necessarily be ideal but better than this year’s finale.

Q: I’ve been an IndyCar far since the late ’90s and I read just about everything I can from you and the other guys about Indy car racing. I’ve never known what things were like before the Split, do you know of any books or other places I can find to read about what things were like on the track and off in the early ’90s and the whole story of the circumstances leading up to the Split?
Steve Fink

RM: Well, short of photocopying the 4,000 stories/columns I wrote from 1990 to 1996 [BELOW, Nigel Mansell at Laguna Seca in 1993], there is no book out there. Gordon Kirby is planning to write a history of American open-wheel racing that figures to be very informative and interesting but he’s probably a couple years away from completing it.

Q: I know I’ve asked this many times and I know the answer is sponsorship, but is anyone at IndyCar trying to get a race in the Northwest? We’re all dying to get a race up here and it would ease my pain a little knowing that they’re at least trying.
Brad in Idaho

RM: Portland (ABOVE, 2002, with Brack leading da Matta and Junqueira) was back on the radar in Randy Bernard’s last year but haven’t heard anything since. Somebody said Kent’s road course has been refurbished (an old USAC venue) but not sure anyone at IndyCar (besides Derrick Walker) knows those tracks exist.

Q: I hope the Mailbag keeps rolling weekly during the extended off-season. Some of the long, rambling letters do have interesting points. Me, I just want know if Pocono is going to happen and if it does I’ll buy you a dinner at Nick’s Lake House where the views are spectacular and the food isn’t as good. I am looking for management to work in some consistency in the schedule, growing the team count and adding dates on both ends.
Dino from New Hanover, Pa.

RM: I can truthfully say that the Mailbag will run 52 weeks a year like it always has and that Pocono is on the 2015 schedule. I think. During one of the summer months. Likely a day race. But not on July 4th weekend. Hope that helps. 

Q: I was never a country music fan, Robin. But when I was a kid, I noticed that the big country and western acts always traveled in groups. Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette & Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn & Patsy Cline always worked hand-in-hand. They understood that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. IndyCar needs to take the same business approach. IndyCar should acquire Robby Gordon’s Super Truck Series and the Global Rallycross Series. They both feature short, action-packed races that don’t drag on and are perfect support races for an IndyCar race weekend. And those series can set up courses anywhere that IndyCar races. In short, IndyCar should become the X Games of motorsport. Racing is a mix of technology and thrills, but is primarily the entertainment business. Heritage and history don’t attract sponsors. And the sooner we stop coming up with bad ideas like hooking up with the mind-numbing IMSA series or force-feeding low attendance ovals, the sooner IndyCar can regain some media attention.
Don, Chardon Ohio

RM: Gordo’s series has been popular when it ran with IndyCar at Toronto, Detroit, Long Beach and St. Pete but he just sold half of it, so not sure what his plan is for 2015 and beyond. I like your suggestions but a double-header with TUDOR sports cars always works at Long Beach, Detroit and Mid-Ohio and just gives the weekend a big-time feel so I would book that at all road courses and some street circuits if Jim France was game.  

Q: OK, forget all this talk that IndyCar needs to hook up with the TUDOR series to bring in more attendance, it needs more races with Stadium Super Trucks! SST needs to be at ALL the Oval Races also (except Indy). I think all the boring down time at oval races could be resolved with Super Trucks running on the infield or infield road race course (that most oval courses seem to have). With Super Trucks also being in the X-Games (very popular according to an ESPN poll), this pairing will also bring in the younger demographic that IndyCar so dearly needs. IndyCar is already hooked up with SST & Robby Gordon, they just need to figure out how to make it work on oval track configurations and this would be a win/win for all. Since reading that the Elevation Group just bought stake in it, and with its ties to IndyCar already (Helio especially) I think this is a no brainer. Hope IndyCar does this before the “Elevation Group” decides it doesn’t need Indy Car and makes all SST races standalone events or worse, hooks up with NASCAR!

On a happy note, two weeks ago I went to “Tracker Night” here in San Jose (a once yearly midweek motorcycle “street party” with a flat track theme) and as always Pelican Joe Leonard was there, and he looked great! He is still in a wheelchair but was very much back to his old self (last year when I saw him I feared he would not last much longer), mingling with the crowd and having a great time. He was also honored with a video/photo retrospective of his cycle and Indy career that was also great to see.
Victor Martino, San Jose, CA

RM: I enjoy Robby’s series but it’s more of a complement than a standalone show and it works anywhere. You are right, it’s very popular with the younger fans because it’s loud and wild but I still think double-headers with sports cars is a must whenever possible. Glad you got to see Pelican Joe, he’s the toughest SOB I know and a helluva man with one of the great laughs and some of the best stories we’ll ever hear.  

Q: Robin, you may remember the Tasman Series was a  racing series held annually from 1964 to 1975 with races in Australia and New Zealand. The cars were similar to Formula 1 and many of the F1 stars of the time participated as it was during their off-season. Any chance it could ever be brought back for IndyCar drivers and cars? With the IndyCar Series willfully giving up six months of the year, there is certainly a need for something out there.
Jerry Willard

RM: Sure, if you fund it. Seriously, it was the perfect time and climate back then when F1 drivers jumped around from car to car, series to series, like Indy drivers did over here. I love the idea of a winter series but where and with what kind of car and who pays for it? Not enough money and interest anymore.   

Q: Imagine my surprise when I read the story about Will Power going back to Australia to race a jet. What surprised me wasn’t the jet race, but the fact that nearly 30,000 people showed up to watch. Can there be any doubt that IndyCar needs to go back to Australia, and PDQ? If 30,000 show up to watch Power in a sedan on a runway, just imagine how many would be there for an IndyCar race. Thoughts?
Marcal E., Woodinville, WA

RM: You are preaching to the choir. Surfers Paradise (ABOVE) drew more than 200,000 people when there were NO drivers from Down Under and now Power, Dixon and Briscoe would bring even more interest. Might have to find a new venue with all the downtown changes at Surfers Paradise but there are lots of open-wheel fans in Australia and New Zealand so it could be a two-race package.

Q: The numbers 225.191, 218.982 & 196.111. THIS is what IndyCar has to sell. What are those numbers? The fastest lap turned at Indy. Then the fastest lap at Fontana. And finally, the AVERAGE SPEED for 500 miles at Fontana. That, sports fans, is what we come to see. You have the fastest cars, and speeds that exceed anything that doesn’t just go in a straight line. And you don’t draw any fans.

Do you want to fix it? Take that Boston Consulting report and throw it in the trash. Start all races at a reasonable time. Why do you start the final race of the year, the one that determines the series champion, at a time that only has infomercials as competition? Starting at a good time will allow your fans to watch the race with a reasonable chance of seeing the scheduled distance if rain is encountered on the scheduled date. Put the races on tape delay to satisfy the fan on the couch who won’t go the track and spend money. The fans in the stands are your customers. Treat them as such.

IndyCar should look in the dictionary and find the definition of customer service. That would be a great start. And, don’t be in any hurry to get the 2015 schedule finished. Regular folks need to get vacation time scheduled but you don’t care about that either. Will the last fan to abandon this series please turn off the lights when you leave. I rest my case.
Dale Christenson

RM: The NBCSN time frame was 3-6 p.m. Eastern in 2014 so there was continuity but I’m with you – start everything at 1 p.m. so fans don’t get home at midnight or get discouraged from coming and use tape delay. But I’m in the minority and don’t have a vote.

Q: OK, that was an interesting F1 race in Singapore. Another chink in Mercedes armor, a resurgent Red Bull, a tightening of the championship. And now a dark weekend. No IndyCar, no F1. Am I required by IndyCar management to watch NFL this weekend? Or may I simply curl up with a good thriller?
Randall Rich

RM: You may lose you parking privileges to Glamping at IMS if you cannot prove you watched at least one half of an NFL game last weekend.

Q: In a previous column you said that you doubted the Haas Formula 1 team will ever race in Formula 1. Considering the successful history of Gene Haas, his racing teams as well as his businesses, why do you feel this way?
Mike Gavin, Milwaukee, WI

RM: He may prove me wrong but I don’t see how you can run an F1 team from here and he can’t be that rich. At least, he won’t be for long.

Q: I was a bit disappointed in the initial response to Formula E [BELOW] on It’s a completely new form of racing that will eventually evolve into something more entertaining. I get that the cars are slow and quiet, but it’s the beginning. And I actually LIKED the car change. Plus, Nicolas Prost showed there are boneheads in every form of racing. I say give it a few years and I think it will change some minds.
Vincent Martinez, Arcadia, CA

RM: To each his own, Vincent, a lot of people felt like you and a lot felt like me: I’d rather watch NASCAR than Formula Eeeewwwwww!!!!

[For my part, I’m fine with the idea of all-electric racing and I don’t care that they’re quiet. I do care that they’re slow and can’t go more than 25 minutes without requiring a change of car. When they do “evolve into something more entertaining” as you put it, that’s when they should have launched the series, in my opinion. – David Malsher, Editor]

Q: RE: Canopies on cars. Would NOT have saved Greg Moore. Though the replays available on YouTube do not contain the impact scene I clearly recall (from the original broadcast) the replay showing his car impacting upside down at a near-perfect 45 degree angle into the inside retaining wall. Then there would be a concern for ventilation for the driver…those cars get plenty hot enough and a canopy would appear to eliminate almost any outside ventilation to the driver. How would it impair visibility, light refraction, etc.? Plus added cost and one more potential debris problem.
Bill Hodges, Lansing, MI

RM: I’m old school and part of the thrill of open-wheel racing is watching the driver (I know, I know, you can barely see the driver nowadays) and it adds an element of excitement that is part of its foundation.

Q: To piggyback on the Sept. 24 mailbag about closed cockpits: Rollcages and closed cockpits have been discussed for years. I remember Airway sponsoring a car (I think it was an Eagle), back in the ’70s that was trying to qualify for the “500” and it had a rollcage. If you look at Greg Moore’s wreck, no rollcage or canopy could have survived the force and the blunt hit in the concrete wall. Even if it could have, I don’t think he could have survived the deceleration of the hit (basilar skull fracture). A canopy probably would have help Felipe Massa at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix when the spring hit his helmet and helped James Hinchcliffe at this year Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The NHRA have been using canopies in their Top Fuel Dragsters but I have not yet heard of an incident that helped or hurt a driver. Also the driver in a dragster does not need the peripheral vision that an Indy car driver needs, so the installation would have to be different. I am a purist and want to keep it open cockpit.
Joe Mullins, Lexington, KY

RM: That was actually the Wynn’s Friction Proofing Mongoose (ABOVE, IMS photo) qualified in 1970 driven by Bruce Walkup that had a rollcage. A canopy might have saved Dan Wheldon, or at least helped, but likely not Greg. I think Don Schumacher Racing’s capsule probably helped Antron Brown in this engine explosion/crash. But like I said in the letter above yours – open wheel means open cockpit to me.

Q: Living in New Hampshire doesn’t allow me to see wingless sprinters very often, but when I’m out for the “500” I try to get my fix. I went to Gas City two years ago for the first time, sat one row from the top and had mud flying over my head when they started warm-ups as they were sideways just past the flag stand. I was saddened to see that the track closed early this year. What’s the story and will it reopen next year (or ever)?
Michael Long

RM: Attendance was dismal so the promoter shut it down and it may be forever because the track phone number is disconnected. It would be a shame, a nice little quarter-mile dirt track that promotes good racing is another victim. I’ll try USAC and see if they know the story.
Q: With Steve Kinser winding down his great career how about a couple good stories about the King?
Jeff B., Joliet, Il.

RM: In 1981, myself, Larry Rice and Duke Cook promoted an indoor midget race at Cincinnati Gardens. I called Steve and offered him $500 deal money to run and he moaned about hating midgets because they didn’t have enough horsepower before finally agreeing. His car broke down so, knowing that a lot of the 2,000 people in attendance came there to see him, I said he could drive my car in the feature. Rice and I were running around when the race started and after only a few laps I saw Kinser walking with his helmet bag. I ran up and gave him his $500 and asked what happened. “Brushed the tires and bent the left front, sorry.” No sweat, I thanked him and then went back to load my Gary Stanton midget. It took six guys to get it on the trailer because the axle had been ripped out, the left-front suspension was destroyed and the radiator smashed. The King had warned me, he hated midgets.

Q: Remember when the talk was all about “pay” TV? I’ve a feeling that one reason attendance at the tracks is down is because TV coverage (some announcers aside) is so good, that people would rather stay home and watch than see it live. OK, I admit it, price of going does have a factor because it’s not just the race ticket but travel/meals/hotel etc., not to mention the costs of  things INSIDE the track — souvenirs, food. And on a hot day WATER (at $3.00 a bottle); fans aren’t stupid, they know they’re getting ripped, but what choice if they forgot to bring their own? Which brings me back to the comfort of home viewing.

If you’ve never been to a race, felt the sound against your chest as they come down the straight for the start, you don’t know what you’re missing! So where’s the incentive to go? Once those in control realize this, the cost for the TV broadcast will go up — or be subscription only (a deal if you buy a season ticket, compared to a “ticket” per race) My question though is, will drivers feel the same racing without fans in the stands? Either that, or at 10-lap intervals, the racing will stop (red flag) and the drivers will fan out into the stands to sign autographs and hawk beer before returning to their cars.

Robin: please don’t share this with anyone in control of racing. By the way… is there anyone in control?
Bruce Boembeke, Mishawaka, IN

RM: Well the IRL raced before more empty seats than any group except maybe today’s Nationwide Series and it didn’t seem to deter their fighting spirit. But, yes, racing tickets and all the stuff inside are out of control at many tracks and the trend is going to continue: more aluminum.