Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 22 presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 22 presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 22 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 http://hpd.honda.com/ and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD . Your questions for Robin should continue to be sent to millersmailbag@racer.com 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 PruettsTechMailbag@Racer.com.

 

Q: Birds are chirping, butterflies are dancing and angels are singing; it’s racing season in Texas. COTA is chock full of events and car genres. Oh, that’s right IndyCar ended a month ago. No matter the IndyCar fans of Texas are just barely recovering from the heat stroke of Dallas/ Fort Worth and Houston. But wait, IndyCar IS running in Texas. COTA has just hosted a single mega-team running a mystery car. Ahhhh all is well! Birds, butterflies and angels can rejoice as the Clown Posse Brigade leads us forward.
Stephen Archer

RM: Ah, I love the smell of sarcasm in the morning. Marshall Pruett wrote a cool story on RACER.com about the secret photos of the GM test with Penske from COTA and how it all went down. But your point is well taken: lots of good weather and tracks available for IndyCar in September and October.

Q: It’s been a long-standing belief that tracks and/or promoters have some exclusivity agreement with Bernie Eccelstone that forbids an IndyCar race at the same venue as a Formula 1 race. We’re all well aware that in its heyday, IndyCar rivaled F1 in popularity and fan base, with top-tier drivers defecting to drive in CART/ChampCar/IRL/ICS.

But that was then, and this is now. IndyCar is a mere shell of itself, and a cracked one at that. Is/was there any agreement (formal or otherwise) in place that you’re aware of to keep IndyCar and F1 races at separate venues? If there is still such an agreement in place, wouldn’t it seem that this is someone holding on to a decades-old grudge and acting like spoiled rich children?
John Olsakovsky

RM: I don’t know if Bernie ever made a specific rule about that; I think it was more about the promoters not wanting to lose their place in the F1 calendar. Then, after The Split, CART and Champ Car went to Montreal from 2002-’06 so obviously Bernard no longer felt threatened. I don’t believe there’s any rule in place preventing IndyCar from running a current F1 track but it’s all about economics and making cents.

Q: Always look forward to reading the Mailbag and I have two questions I haven’t seen addressed. In the weeks leading up to the Mid-Ohio race (I live in a suburb of Columbus) I didn’t see or hear any promotion for the race. No ads, no driver interviews, no ticket giveaways, nada. For the two weeks AFTER the race I hear at least two ads on the radio every morning thanking fans for their support and asking them to watch the next race. It’s great to thank the fans but how about generating excitement before the event? Second. Has anyone in IndyCar investigated taking over the New Jersey street circuit F1 was going to do? I’m sure it would be a much better show for much less dough (with the added bonus of denying Bernie his coveted NYC race).
Joel Staskiewicz

RM: I sent the promoters (Green-Savoree) a copy of your email but haven’t received any response. The Mid-Ohio crowd was down last August on Friday and Saturday but I attributed that more to the absence of the sports cars than lack of promotion. As for New Jersey, you can bet if there’s money to be squeezed out of a place ol’ Bernie will pounce but it seems pretty shaky to me. If a track is ever built and F1 passes, then IndyCar should certainly make some inquiries but I haven’t heard anything so far.     

Q: I just read the most recent mailbag. As a fan I would love a double header with TUDOR Championship at Road America. However, if the place was packed for the TUDOR race then does it really make sense to add IndyCar? If you add IndyCar and a large sanction fee but only have a minimal attendance boost then it doesn’t really make sense for the promoter to do it. Maybe if the sports car race was struggling it would make more sense to have two B-level events join together to create one A-level event. If there are two A-level events though, they would benefit the promoter more by being separate wouldn’t they?
Andy Brumbaugh

RM: I understand the TUDOR crowd was good but the last time Elkhart Lake was truly packed had to be 1993-’94 with Nigel Mansell and CART. However, you raise a good point. Is it worth it for the promoter to pay two sanction fees? Judging by the turnouts at Long Beach, Detroit and Mid-Ohio through the years I think it must be because it helps the crowds on Friday and Saturday. But Mid-Ohio chose not to this year and the place was empty on Friday and Saturday but decent on Sunday (thanks to Honda). Road America draws well for TUDOR and NASCAR Nationwide separately and likely would for IndyCar if it ever goes back. But is it more profitable to have a gangbuster three-day weekend with sports cars and Indy cars or separate shows? George Bruggenthies says he’d like IndyCar at Elkhart Lake but as a standalone event.    

Q: I just read an article saying IndyCar doesn’t want to  have a race at Road America because it is relatively close to Milwaukee Mile. First thing that crosses my mind is “So what?”

Not everyone is satisfied seeing oval racing. I went to the last few Champ Car/ALMS race weekends. I still go to sports car races every year at Elkhart Lake. Every year I see cars with Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota plates along with Wisconsin plates. There are people in the area who want to see a race at Road America.
I tried getting some friends to go to the Milwaukee Mile and no one ever wants to go. I mention Road America two days before the race and I get people buying tickets at the front gate for full price even though they’re more expensive than Milwaukee’s. Maybe its time we kill the flat track oval since most racing fans expect a single file snooze-fest. I don’t see it being profitable.

NASCAR and IMSA seem to see Road America as a very important venue and always pull in a larger crowd. The owner is showing how much he cares: in the last three years he has revamped the runoffs for the big heavy stock cars, replaced the Turn 6 bridge (now double wide) added extensive parking, improved multiple vantage points throughout the track, doubled the RV parking, added zip lining. Plus there are go-kart tracks onsite running all day long with camping everywhere. I just don’t see Milwaukee bring a crowd or entertainment.
Dustin, West Bend, Wisc.

RM: I understand the concerns of stacking Milwaukee and Road America too close together but the other train of thought would be to schedule them back-to-back and make a special 2-for-1 ticket. It’s tough to generate crowds at every oval nowadays and street and road courses do a much better job of providing day-long entertainment so people are choosing. There was always room for Milwaukee and Road America on the CART schedule and should still be but it’s all about economics – on both sides.


Q: More insight for your readers on last week’s question about how street courses survive or thrive. I’m a news reporter in the Tampa Bay area, and this story I did on the impact of losing Honda as the sponsor of what’s now the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete hits on some of the economics involved. The best news I discovered for St. Pete? [ABOVE] The city owns all of the barricades, walls, and bridges needed to set up the course. Apparently, when the promoter of the 2003 race, Dover Motorsports, went belly-up, they gave the city all of the gear to settle their debts. They figure not renting it all saves maybe $1 million a year.
Grayson from Tampa

RM: Thanks for the info, Grayson. No doubt, the best street course I ever saw was at Las Vegas in 2007 and the promoters spent a fortune on the track, fencing and walls. Their plan was to move all that stuff to Phoenix for another downtown Champ Car race but they lost so much money on Vegas, they canceled Phoenix. Obviously, Long Beach owns everything, plus has Toyota as a loyal title sponsor and gets great civic support. Not sure there would still be a race in St. Pete if Firestone hadn’t stepped in to replace Honda.   

Q: I’ve read that the Fiorito family has sold the Pacific Raceway in Kent, Washington. Of the 340 acres, supposedly some will be turned in to commercial business and they indicate that the raceway will remain with the necessary upgrades. It has been there for 54 years and would be a huge loss to the area if it disappears. I have photos of my dad there the first summer it was opened with his 57 Pontiac Tri-Power at the starting line with a flag man! Mario, Parnelli, Dick Simon, Paul Newman, and even Dale Earnhardt , etc, etc, raced there! More info can be found on Pacific Raceways website.
Don H.

RM: USAC staged a double-header at Kent in 1969 (Mario and Al Unser won) but never returned so I don’t know how much interest there is or how much FIA work would be needed to make it compliable. I do know that IndyCar would like to race in the Northwest, be it Portland, Vancouver, Calgary or Kent. Thanks for the update.

Q: Saw in the latest Mailbag a discussion that Minnesota State Fair Park might be worth considering for a race. Unfortunately, the track is no longer. Last year only the backstretch and turns 3 & 4 remained. They have since been plowed under. The grandstands are still there and are used for concerts and entertainment during the State Fair. Too bad; nice wide track.
Wally, Eden Prairie, MN

RM: Thanks. Yep, there were some great USAC races at that joint in the 1960s and ’70s.

Q: I wanted to provide my comments about the allure of street courses, in response to Al from Marietta, Ga.’s question from the October 15th Mailbag. I attended my first Toronto Molson Indy in 1990 and have since been attending what is now the Honda Indy on an annual basis since 1995.  For me it comes down to the overall entertainment factor and the fact there’s something special about watching a race live. We sit in Turn 3 where much of the action is and there is a big screen in front of us so we can see what is happening on other parts of the track.  I have a scanner so I listen to the TV commentators, Race Control and the team communications and have a good idea as to what is going on at all times. This year there were 13 races over Saturday and Sunday, of which we saw 9 or 10, so it was great bang for our buck. The support races such as this year’s Acura Sports Car Challenge and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge often provide some of the best racing of the weekend, and we got to see Robby Gordon and Paul Tracy duke it out in the Stadium Super Trucks which was a crowd pleaser.

The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of auto racing, it’s a great place to be. That being said, 1990 wasn’t much fun as it poured rain the whole time, there was no TV screen to watch, I didn’t have a scanner and we couldn’t hear the public address system so once the cars started lapping each other, we didn’t have a clue what the running order was.  Things have changed for the better since then though.
Scott Brumwell, Barrie, Ontario

RM: Thanks Scott. I know the Canadian fans are some of the most loyal and smartest in North America and not even all-day rains seems to dissuade you folks. I wish IndyCar still raced in Vancouver and Montreal, but your letter illustrates why street courses draw more people than ovals nowadays – more bang for the buck and non-stop action.   

Q: With Josef Newgarden signed to a one year deal do you think he’d make a strong candidate for a Gene Haas F1 drive in 2016 if that program ever gets going? Also, any news on Parker Kligerman and a possible Indy Lights drive? He seemed to do pretty well at that test a while back but haven’t heard anything since.
Josh Fromer, Tannersville, NY

RM: I thought Haas said he’d like one of his drivers to be an American and Josef has experience in Europe just like Conor Daly and Alex Rossi but will he want pay drivers? Kligerman sounds like he wants to return to open wheel but, again, it’s going to be about finding funding.


Q: If I were the scheduling czar at IndyCar and wanted to keep our teams and sport visible during our traditional off-season this would be my “Southern Hemisphere” series schedule. First, I would form a strategic alliance with V8 Supercar in Australia. Starting in October I would run IndyCar on the Saturday before the Bathurst 1000, at the Mt. Panorama Circuit (yes, as a supporting event). Seeing Dixon, Power, and Briscoe going through “The Dipper” (oh, sorry, ‘the Dippah’), Australia would never be the same! The Bathurst 1000 pulls in a lot of the Sydney fans. In November I would follow the V8 Supercars to Phillip Island, for the 400. Run on the Saturday, there, too. The seaside setting is in stark contrast to Mt. Panorama. Phillip Island pulls in the Melbourne crowd. I’d finish out the year running in support of the Sydney 500, in December; another great population base. |

On New Year’s Day I would run the Kyalami Circuit, outside of Johannesburg. Since Porsche South Africa has taken over ownership of Kyalami, the circuit is now world class (and Bernie doesn’t go there). We know that IndyCar is going to Autodromo Internacional Nelson Piquet on March 7-8 (I personally feel the track layout is a little on the “Mickey Mouse” side, not unlike Hungary; turns 12 & 1 offer the only real passing zones) so that leaves February. Forget Dubai: it’s a “Bernie” track, and we know how Bernie is! In place of Dubai I would run Lago Potrero de los Funes Circuit, outside of San Luis, Argentina. Who? What? Huh?

“San Luis” is like no other circuit; it’s a real driver’s circuit, it’s a real spectator’s circuit. It circumnavigates a lake, the vistas and elevation changes are spectacular. It’s a driver’s circuit in the same way Spa or the old Nurburgring were viewed. It’s 3.9 miles in length. The TV coverage alone would make it worthwhile. There’s not a bad seat in the house. San Luis pulls from both Buenos Aires and San Paolo. I would run the event the Sunday before “Carnival” (February 15th) when all of South America is partying.

A schedule like this would increase visibility, keep teams solvent with a positive cash flow, keep people employed full time, improve credibility, expand our fan base, and make IndyCar a “world class” franchise.
Jim Scott, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

RM: If you mean run Indy cars with V8 Supercars at all those places, it sounds good because they get great crowds and IndyCar has three big draws for them in Dixon, Power [TOP] and Briscoe but you couldn’t run Indy cars at those tracks from what I’ve seen. And I’m not sure V8 wants to share billing anyway but racing Indy cars in Australia and New Zealand with this trio seems like a no-brainer. Just not sure it’s being explored.

Kyalami was a great circuit for F1 until 1985. The remodeled track [ABOVE] they ran in ’92 and ’93 was looked on as a letdown at the time because of the memories of what went before…but in the context of most of the current F1 tracks, it might be revered like Spa. (smile)

USAC ran an oval double-header in Argentina in 1971 but who knows if either place wants or can afford an IndyCar race. I’ll send your suggestions to Mark Miles and Derrick Walker.

Q: Concerning “canopies” and all that has been said since Dan Wheldon died: it drives me nuts but I usually keep quiet. One thing for sure, you do not need to worry about IndyCar adopting canopies. I’m not a car designer, but I do know materials. Installing a canopy would require a massive redesign of what Indy cars are. Any canopy on the current type of IndyCar configuration simply would not prevent a Dan-type impact from being fatal. Any designer mandated to come up with a canopy design would quickly see the structural issues.

In addition, the fence design of mesh/cables inside or outside the pole does not matter, either. Canopies and different fence designs would not have mattered unless poles were removed completely. These are the structural/materials issues that most people do not understand. Thanks: I enjoy your reporting and, strangely, my wife thinks you are funny! (TV only).
Gray Fowler, senior Principal Chemical Engineer, Raytheon

RM: Thanks for your interest and information and thank your wife for watching NBCSN. I’m going to send your contact info to Will Phillips and Derrick Walker because they’re looking at future car configurations.

Q: Just got my weekly Mailbag fix – thanks again for offering the BEST source for news (and conjecture), and discussion for IndyCar fans. (IndyCar.com, are you paying attention?). I must praise Scott from Erie, PA for his suggestion that the series develop a traveling transporter for school presentations. Having worked in and around schools for many years, such efforts by the military and law enforcement were always exciting and welcome diversions for students and staff. If IndyCar were to do this right and tie it into STEM education, it could take the country by storm and garner the support of universities, large employers, and probably even draw grant money to help. Furthermore, such an effort would not only draw some kids into the exciting world of open-wheel racing, but would likely draw substantial media attention and is the kind of initiative Washington loves to champion. Great idea!
Brian from Florida

RM: I sent your inquiry to C.J. O’Donnell, chief marketing officer of IMS/IndyCar, and here’s his response: “At present, we are supporting a project with J.R. Hildebrand that focuses on STEM pilot in a few local California schools. The interest has been impressive. Our past experience with STEM initiatives did demonstrate a need for a connection to the race event. It’s a bigger payoff if the students actually see our cars running in practice. This writer’s recommendation would mean any post-season program would not benefit from this added experience. Obviously, there’s nothing more impactful than the spectacle of IndyCar racing to inspire young students. Bottom line, this is not an impossible request given appropriate resource and funding. We will consider our study of STEM initiatives with this fan’s advice close at hand.”


Q: Of your recent schedule updates you have posted the most exciting rumor for me is the return of Fontana. I’ve been a die-hard IndyCar fan since I was born and have attended either Laguna Seca or Sonoma pretty much each year since around 1985, when I was about 3 years old. This year at the last minute my dad and I took the 400-mile drive to see my first paved oval and his first since the late 70’s at Ontario. We will be back this year and I’ve already informed a couple of friends that missing it won’t be an option for them either.

There is no way to describe the speed as the cars drop into Turn 1 at over 225mph. Although I love road racing, for pure fan experience and sense of speed, there is no beating this experience. For those who write in here regularly and complain about ovals or long for a return of a certain track, buy some tickets, make the trip, and enjoy what we have. I think you’ll be surprised. 

Now for the part of my question where I sound like everyone else. I believe a key to getting more exposure is getting the drivers into more cross promotions. When Helio was Dancing, every housewife in America knew him. Why not get another driver on? Someone with a personality, not just a name. I’d love to see Hinch or TK showing America what great personalities our sport has. Maybe get one on American Ninja warrior, and show the people that these guys are athletes too.
I know people bring up the fact that not much came of Michael Andretti on The Apprentice, but he’s never had an outgoing personality. A

lso I feel another major part where our sport falls short is recruiting major brands as sponsorship. People will tune in and cheer for a driver purely based upon his sponsorship. The fan base wants to be able to cheer for the Bud car, or Valvoline car [ABOVE – Al Unser Jr. at Indy in 1991]. We will never build loyalty when sponsors are companies we don’t connect with. I really think the powers-that-be should look at moving some of their money into subsidizing major corporations’ sponsorship packages. If a large company such as Pepsi wants to get on board with a team, IndyCar should foot part of the bill just to get them into the sport. Part of this money can be made up through merchandising later but should also be pulled from the end of the year payouts. As a team you may not get as large of a check at the end of the year, but you will have a sponsor which allows you to continue to race plus a growing fan base for your team.  
Greg, San Jose

RM: Glad you made it but Fontana isn’t a rumor. It will run June 27, 2015 so that’s a Saturday afternoon race. As for your suggestion about TK or Hinch on Dancing with the Stars, it’s a good one but I’m not sure how contestants are picked. But both those guys are damn sure better drivers than Michael Waltrip; he just gets more face time thanks to FOX.

Q: I’m getting really sick of this… being told racing isn’t a sport is worse than taking a slap to the face. I’m not really sure where it came from, but its getting harder and harder to make fans because of this sudden cold shoulder I constantly get. Where did this phenomenon come from? So many people my age have this set-in-stone idea that racing is not a sport and racing drivers aren’t athletes. I honestly don’t know how to change their mindset right now, and especially with IndyCar’s pointless short season and long off-season, I stand no chance.

It won’t faze me, though, as I live my college days waking up kissing my IMS brick and studying with an old Indy 500 playing in the background. Seriously though, need to find out why so many now think racing isn’t considered a sport. I’m sure haters have always been around, but why so many these days?
Hunter Smith, Plainfield, IN

RM: Not really sure where it originated but I know Donovan McNabb said on FOX a few months ago that Jimmie Johnson wasn’t an athlete. Of course we all hang on everything Donovan says. But there’s always been a universal feeling among stick and ball types that driving a racecar isn’t an athletic endeavor. Maybe certain ovals are less than taxing physically, but all you’ve got to do is watch somebody spend two hours wrestling an Indy car at Mid-Ohio to understand what’s demanded.

Although…here’s a thought: If we perpetuate the myth that IndyCar racing isn’t a sport, we could have a sensible schedule again because it would no longer be looked on as being in competition with the NFL.

Q: IndyCar is NOT in competition with the NFL. It wishes it was! Any racing series wishes it was! It’s in competition with NASCAR and F1. Because the IndyCar season is over and F1 was at 6:30 a.m. I was forced to watch NASCAR and let me say IndyCar lost a good chance to get more fans. First off, ABC didn’t cut over to the race until lap 26 (it was showing college football not even the NFL.  I guess NASCAR got nervous and pulled a “competition” yellow until the TV coverage was on, and then the “racing” continued!) Now if there was an IndyCar race on, everyone could have switched to that on a rival NBC channel. Just sayin!
Tony , NY  

RM: The problem with your scenario is that NBC isn’t allowed to show IndyCar races – only ABC – and it has no desire to show any prime time IndyCar races in football season even if available. But you are correct: NASCAR and F1 are IndyCar’s competition.


Q: Can you tell me why IndyCar is turning me into a NASCAR fan? I haven’t missed a Piston Cup race since the Fontana end of season! I can even cheer for Danica, she was running 4th at the last yellow flag, had to start on the outside row where no one did well all day and still finished in 6th place! She seems to be improving greatly. Why does the Boston Consulting Group only worry about the NFL? There is always MLB, NHL, NBA, ETC. In Canada we have missed the start of IndyCar races because golf and curling have overrun! Shouldn’t they also worry about poker and darts? They seem to be getting big!
Randy Shanklin

RM: She’s run very well the past month but I watch NASCAR for Kyle Larson [ABOVE]. I have no explanation for the BCG but, then, I’ve never actually got to read the full report. Don’t forget poker on ESPN.

Q: I’ll always be an open-wheel guy, but I’m also a race fan. I was wondering what you think of this year’s “Chase.” I’m actually watching some of the races again, although I was sleeping through much of Talladega until they got to the end. I’ve been saying for years that the large reward for winning the championship and the dumb point system has sucked the life out of the actual races, where 10th place was a “good day.” Now winning races (or at least being up at the sharp end most of the time) means a heck of a lot more and I think it’s showing in how they’re driving. People are taking real chances to win – kind of like IndyCars and sprint cars! 

On the other hand, with the way the champion is decided, it has almost devalued the Sprint Cup championship because the best guy over the course of the entire year probably won’t win. I also noticed the stands were full at ‘Dega and that wasn’t the case last year. What do you think and are you watching?
Mike L. in NH

RM: In terms of TV ratings, it’s doing pretty well (a 3.1 on ABC prime time and a 2.7 for ’Dega last weekend) and NASCAR got a real reprieve when Keselowski won. Now the two guys with the most wins still have a shot at the title but imagine if Brad is out and winless Ryan Newman captures the championship. How do you spin that?

I watch Kyle Larson in between commercials of NFL games because Talladega is impossible to watch until the final 10 laps.

Q: After 12 years with Sprint, I just switched to Verizon this weekend primarily because of the IndyCar sponsorship. My little way of saying “Thanks” to them. Hope more people do the same. Having difficulty communicating that directly to Verizon. Hopefully you use this and one of the muckity-mucks at Verizon reads the Mailbag.
John T. Feeser, Wilmington, NC

RM: I imagine that’s what they’re hoping, more people switching over, but basically you dumped NASCAR for IndyCar so I applaud you. Let me know about the IndyCar apps.

Q: First thanks for your perseverance with open-wheel racing. I consider myself a RRW – road race watcher – whether it is two or four wheels. So I watch Indy cars, sports cars, F1, MotoGP, and SBK if I can find it, and some taxis when they run on road courses. Here are some thoughts on open-wheel  cars. 1. Make them use smaller tires. Maybe even treaded tires like we have to drive on, but not the silly tires F1 used a few years ago. 2. Smaller wings front and back w/ ONE surface e.g. the front wings on F1 cars are super ugly and flop around like a limp rag. 3. Take away paddle shifters, make the driver really shift a “stick.” 4. Take away computer-controlled launches, it should be controlled by the driver. I like technology but I like real racing better. Thanks for considering my little short rant.
Dwight Plucker

RM: Not sure IndyCar needs smaller tires – the racing is damn good with Firestone’s two compounds on street and road courses and its oval tire. I like taking away paddle shifters but that’s not likely. IndyCar drivers kinda control their launch now but it’s obviously not an exact science just yet.


Q: This segment is a chapter of “Where Are They Now?”? It’s been seven years since we heard from the Minardi team USA [ABOVE, Robert Doornbos in 2007] when they ran the final Champ Car season (technically, it ended in 2008 at Long Beach). Sure they were successful and were sub-par. I wonder if Paul Stoddart is actually still interested in running a team once again or decided to walk away. I know Giancarlo Minardi ran for mayor but never took post.? The last thing I know is that Paul is still in the airline industry. Is there a chance he would return to the motorsports world?
JLS, Chicago, IL

RM: I asked his old pal Kevin Kalkhoven and here’s his reply: “We (Stoddart) actually have an aviation business together in both Indianapolis and Bournemouth, England. He still has his two-seaters, which he brings out for certain Formula 1 events. I have repeatedly discussed a return to IndyCar with him but he seems very disinclined to do it. He continues to come to some of the races, including the Indy 500 but prefers to fool around with airplanes.”

Q: Apparently you’re shooting your new fireside chat videos from your own personal library. How about at the end of each video chat, you take a “Library Minute” and grab something – an old photo, program, ticket, press pass, newspaper clipping, an old yellowed NSSN, helmet, gloves, trophy, whatever – from your collection and give us a quick story about it. How cool would that be during the off-season? Or perhaps a 2 or 3-minute “Library Memories” vid at RACER.com could stand on its own on a regular basis.
Steve, Eden Prairie, MN

RM: I like that idea Steve, and I’ll start doing it next Monday. I’m just now scanning the 3,000 photos I’ve accumulated during the past 45 years so we’ll have plenty of stories. Thanks for watching and thanks for the suggestion.

Q: The Pirelli World Challenge schedule suggests they’re partnered with IndyCar on August 28-30, 2015 at Sonoma. I guess that rules out Sonoma for a Labor Day finale.
Ryan Terpstra

RM: It doesn’t rule out the season ending on August 30 in Sonoma,

Q: Read in Marshall Pruett’s article on Honda’s IndyCar trials that HPD’s contract is up after 2015 and that Chevy’s is up after 2016. Meanwhile, we keep hearing about Cosworth trying to find a backer for their IndyCar effort. So what’s your feeling: Who’s in and who’s out when 2017 rolls around. How many manufacturers are there going to be? Is there going to be competition, or are we back on the road to being a truly spec series?
Ed Joras

RM: IndyCar is meeting with Honda to talk about an extension, and I would have to think of all the money being spent on aero kits by both General Motors and Honda that they would be around for a while longer. But it’s impossible to gauge how long or if anybody else is joining.

Q: I’d love to see Hinch back in the winner’s circle! I think that should happen at SPM. Now if Alonso goes on sabbatical and he can be wedged into a seat at TCGR, then IndyCar can give Bernie indigestion. Wishful thinking, I know!
Trevor Bohay

RM: That could make Bernie take an aspirin but it wouldn’t have the same panic affect of losing Nige in 1993.

Q: I got a crazy idea, if Alonso goes on sabbatical from F1 next year, IndyCar should make him an offer. I’m sure Penske, Ganassi, or Andretti can field an extra car! Imagine the hype? I remember Mansell Mania. This is exactly what IndyCar needs!
Frank, Toronto

RM: Might be worth a phone call and I think Chip would jump on it but not sure IndyCar could afford it. But Alonso [BELOW] could make a difference at the box office.

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