Robin Miller's Mailbag for Nov. 05 presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for Nov. 05 presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for Nov. 05 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: IndyCar needs to dump Texas Motor Speedway for Circuit of The Americas. Yes, it’s another road coarse, but Texas Motor Speedway was never made for open-wheel cars. Besides, COTA is the much more interesting circuit. After spending a bit of time switching between the NASCAR and F1 races, I noticed that ESPN couldn’t squeeze the screen small enough in an attempt to not show all the empty seats at TMS. I’ll take anything at COTA over NASCAR anywhere. Eddie Gossage was wrong, and so was A.J. Foyt.
S.P. Brown, Grand Junction, Colorado

RM: Mike Lanigan explored COTA with his Shell sponsorship but backed off because IndyCar said Eddie Gossage threatened to dump them. As I’ve written many times, Gossage has no leverage anymore because his race attendance continues to dwindle so IndyCar should go to COTA if a race is desired. And TMS and COTA could co-exist easily if Austin ran in the spring. Hate to lose an oval but there are others out there.
 
Q: I just want to vent my frustration with IndyCar. Since seeing Joe Leonard win at Milwaukee in 1970, I have been an avid follower of the IndyCar series in all its forms, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I don’t understand why the series, including Roger Penske, is trying to see Milwaukee fail. First of all, they move dates around, blurring the traditional race after Indy mind set. In the past when we used to have 20 or more folks attend the race with us, we would know at the end of the race we would be back at the race, same time, same place next year. As insane as moving the race dates is, setting the start of the race at 4:00pm on Sunday – seriously?! Do they expect folks from Chicago and points south to drive to Milwaukee for a one day event with such an idiotic start time? Maybe I’m getting too old to put up with the stupidity of the whole thing. Hopefully Michael Andretti has more patience than I have.
Dwight Loveland

RM: With General Motors involved, it’s important to race in Detroit and RP has polished a turd at Belle Isle. Having said that, Milwaukee was a staple the week after Indy and I think it could flourish again with the right timing. I’ve said the same thing over and over about 4 p.m. starts and taking care of the people who actually care enough to drive to your event but television is likely dictating this decision.  

Q: IndyCar doesn’t get it. Better TV Ratings starts with getting more fans to events. Starting races on late Sunday afternoon is not how you get more fans to events. People can’t afford to take Monday off, so having all your start times at 3:00 or worse means no one that travels can go to events. Add in the fact that most of your fans are in Indy, you probably shouldn’t schedule all your midwest races back-to-back-to-back in May, then again in July. I just don’t have much faith in Miles and Co. anymore.
Matt Converset, Decatur, IN

RM: I know a lot of people from Indy and Chicago that use to go to Milwaukee and quit because of the reason you stated. NASCAR going to NBCSN is going to dictate some starting times but it shouldn’t have any bearing on Milwaukee since NASCAR runs Kentucky on July 11th and Milwaukee is the next day.
 
Q: Combining the ABC Supply 250 IndyCar event with the Millers at Milwaukee on the weekend of July 11-12 is a stroke of genius. The efforts of the folks at Andretti and Dana Mecum have to be commended. The Millers at Milwaukee has always been a very solid event, with a low-key atmosphere, most of the attendees being from the over-55 set. But we have always endeavored to try to pass on the history of Indy to the younger cohorts. Combining these events will serve to bridge eras, allowing youngsters to see the lineage and evolution of past formulae. I hope this kind of vision can be shared with other IndyCar venues.
Jim Scott, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
 
RM: It’s certainly a welcomed step in trying to provide the paying customers with something to do besides watch the two-seater. I’ve seen the photos from Miller weekend and yeah, it looks cool.


Q: There seems to be a lot of attention being paid to the season finale. A desire to make it a big event in order to draw spectators and ratings share. What about a weekend in conjunction with TUDOR United SportsCars or Pirelli World Challenge? Add one twist into the IndyCar race. Extend the number of laps a bit and have them share the track with Indy Lights. Maybe this would interest Laguna Seca or Road America. The ultimate American racing venues host a dual-class enduro.
Brian Bristo, London Canada

RM: Well adding the Lights would certainly be one way to make Laguna more exciting. As for the 2015 finale, the World Challenge is sharing the weekend with IndyCar at Sonoma, which is the season finale. 

Q: Back in November of 2013, Mark Miles had a Q&A with AutoWeek and made this remark about the upcoming 2015 schedule:
AW: In announcing IndyCar’s 2014 schedule, you said IndyCar is providing more to the fans. But the Brazil race is questionable at best and Baltimore has been canceled. And the season only spans five months. How is that providing more?
MM: “It’s one less race next season, unless we run in Brazil at the end of the year in 2014, which is probably a longer shot than a sure bet. I’m thinking more about 2015, and this schedule is getting to that. We’ll have more racing in ’15, not less.”
There were 18 races in 2014 and only 17 scheduled races for 2015. I’m not a math whiz but this is indeed less. I was certainly expecting much more with the 2015 schedule, especially after recalling Mr. Miles’ comment last year. And IndyCar needs to make a better effort with date consistency, especially with the ovals.
Steve, Winston, GA
 
RM: I’m sure he wasn’t predicting Houston going away so that’s two races and would have gotten the total to 19 with the addition of Brazil and New Orleans. But you are spot on about consistency in dates – it’s the only chance a promoter has.

Q: Following up on the IndyCar leaders’ theme, I think everyone should remember Mark Miles is not simply the leader of IndyCar, but of Hulman & Co. in general. His job is not to make die-hard IndyCar fans happy – as with any CEO, his job is to make Hulman & Co. lots of money as well as grow the company’s profits. And to that point, based on Racer’s article about IndyCar’s financials being back in the black, one would think the Hulman & Co. Board would be pleased with Mr. Miles’ performance thus far. If you look at Hulman & Co.’s businesses, baking powder is obviously not likely to have the potential for explosive growth. So, assuming Mr. Miles is not looking to start or acquire new business units under the Hulman Co. umbrella, then IndyCar & IMS appear to be the only candidates for growth.
Growing IMS means adding races or using the venue for other profitable events such as outdoor concerts. You already have the Indy 500 & the Brickyard 400 along with other smaller racing events, so unless F1 comes back, there is not much to grow at IMS other than ticket sales of existing events. And given the relatively high fixed costs associated with operating a venue like IMS, it is hard to imagine it significantly adding to Hulman & Co.’s bottom line.
That leaves IndyCar. Mark Miles said when he was hired “if you keep doing the same things, you should expect the same results.” Frankly, I don’t see where he has done anything radically different in IndyCar in an attempt to have different results and grow the sport (unless you count ending the season by Labor Day which at the moment does not appear to have produced a positive effect). To me, the approach thus far has been to make minor tweaks to the series, tweaks which may result in marginal improvements in IndyCar’s viewership and revenue streams as has been reported, but I don’t see where these have the potential to create explosive growth which could rival NASCAR’s following in a 10-year time frame.
Miles may be a good CEO who can balance IndyCar’s books and make Hulman & Co. money, and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a couple more years if he continues to run IndyCar either explicitly or behind the scenes. But that said, even if Mr. Miles remains CEO of Hulman & Co., I think you need a Richard Branson or Elon Musk type individual being the leader of IndyCar – someone who can come up with the big ideas no one else has thought of to radically grow the sport. Fifty years ago NASCAR was a small regional racing series and the NFL didn’t have the Super Bowl or its multitudes of fans, so there is no reason a visionary leader can’t grow IndyCar to where it is one of the most followed sports series in America in a 20-30-year time frame. But unless Mark Miles has some game changers in the works no one knows about, we should continue to expect the same basic results.
David, Greensboro, NC
 
RM: I think your assessment is fair, although it seems to me about the only way IndyCar could be in the black would be sharing the pot with IMS. Maybe it’s creative math but IndyCar starts out $30 million in the hole every year because of the Leader’s Circle scheme. I’d love to see the books. Anyway, Miles definitely increased the May take with the IMS road course race and the Brazil sanction fee should be a nice addition to the kitty for 2015. I imagine if you take the NASCAR TV money and Month of May added with IndyCar’s contributions/deductions it could be a profit. I know Randy Bernard said he was within a couple million of breaking even in his second year but IndyCar had been a huge loser up until then.    

Q: Mark Miles’ continued insistence to end the season in August is not only stupid but also an insult to the fans of this sport. If sports cars can get a 1.1 on a tape-delayed race, IndyCar will do just fine in the fall. IndyCar’s not in competition with the NFL. If Miles doesn’t realize that, he needs to quit his job immediately. There is no excuse for this stupidity period. I’m not angry; I’m insulted. I’m not stupid. Clearly he is.
Ryan in West Michigan
 
RM: Are you sure you aren’t Mario Andretti using a pseudonym?  


Q: Just finished reading your Mailbag, like I do every week, and Mike in NH had an idea about running two 200 mile races at Pocono instead of one 500 miler. I like his thinking but I don’t think running one race on the oval and one on the road course in the same car on the same day would work. Seems like too many changes to the cars would be required unless they had a long break between races (correct me if I’m wrong).
But how about running two 200-mile oval races – one clockwise, one counter clockwise? The cars wouldn’t need as many changes since they would retain their oval setups and it would be interesting for the fans and the drivers. Also, regarding Cosworth being ready, willing and waiting to join IndyCar: Can’t IndyCar just do away with the OEM partner requirement? If I remember right, towards the end of CART, Ilmor engines were just badged as Ilmor, not Chevy or Mercedes. Seems like adding a third engine supplier, one with a long history with IndyCar and one that everyone knows builds great racing engines, outweighs the need for an OEM badge. Could IndyCar do this or would Chevy and Honda not allow it?
Blake, Flower Mound, TX

RM: Just can’t see running two different ways creating any fan frenzy. As for Cosworth, IndyCar is trying to find them a partner but isn’t in any shape to FUND them a partner.

Q: Hooray, the 2015 Season Schedule is finally out. Now let the complaining begin! My only question this week involves track changes. A couple years ago when NASCAR and Grand-Am ran at the Brickyard the same weekend (Grand-Am was Thursday), it was an interesting concept where they flipped the track to be able to use the infield road course, and then maintained the typical weekend schedule for the NASCAR and Nationwide events on the Speedway. How long did that take them to complete that? With that question in mind, I am looking at the 2015 IndyCar Schedule with all the ovals, and each and every one of them has infield road courses – decent ones, I might add. With the exception of Milwaukee and Iowa (due to infield activities during a race weekend) I wonder how long the staff at each track would need to flip the track for use from the road course to the oval. During the summer months, when a weekend trip to the races is more ideal for families and spectators, “what if” say Texas and Auto Club Speedway ran a Friday road course race, and were able to also run the oval on Saturday or Sunday. Ignoring the sanctioning fees and all other contractual issues for this scenario, has that ever been entertained in years past? And is it truly feasible with the cars today to allow enough time for teams to reconfigure from one race set up to another?
Jamie Doellinger

RM: It’s tough enough to get paying customers to come to oval races let alone get them to come to a road course INSIDE an oval. No way any track would take that chance. There was an idea to try it at Cleveland once and that might have been feasible. IMS worked OK because it’s IMS and it was the first time. It took about six hours to change the Speedway from road course to oval.
 
Q: I’m wondering how many laps could be practically done on the Milwaukee Mile in an Indy car race? Would it improve the show to make it longer? Or would it just make it boring? The thing is, even people who live in Milwaukee don’t know how historic a track it is. It’s older than Indy. What if they made it a more special race, say 500 miles? I don’t know, I’m grasping at straws. It is a special place. Maybe if it were the last race of the year…?
Rick J, Milwaukee

RM: Well they keep adding laps but it doesn’t seem to make any difference in the attendance. And the races haven’t been up to the old Milwaukee standards lately so I definitely don’t want to see it a 500-miler. Not sure what it’s going to take to bring back the crowds but starting at 4 p.m. isn’t one of them. But hosting the finale with a free test day on Thursday might help. And running a week after Indy as well.


Q: I’ve been watching the silly season of F1 closely lately, and the dwindling car count problem has introduced the possibility of something silly indeed: three-car teams in F1. And then it dawned on me: the idea of three cars per team is so unappealing, for some reason, that I think it’s also one reason why I’m not quite as thrilled about IndyCar anymore. Penske, Ganassi, Andretti all fielding three or four cars apiece. I don’t know, something about big teams just sits wrong with me. If it comes down to that, I might just start watching the better show of IndyCar and get over my 3-and-4-car-phobia. Not counting Indy 500, how often during the CART years did a team have three or more cars for the season?
Bill Jurasz, Austin, TX
 
RM: First off, it’s a good thing those three are fielding that many cars or IndyCar would be looking at 16-18 starters. And Ed Carpenter’s team had as many wins as Andretti and Ganassi, while Sam Schmidt had a pair and Dale Coyne also got a W. That can’t happen in F1 or NASCAR. Little teams have more than a chance in IndyCar. Penske ran three cars full-time (Tracy, Little Al, Emmo) in 1994 but I can’t recall anyone else in CART’s heydays.

Q: As much as I want to see the new Indy Lights car with a bigger field at Pocono, they aren’t back next year. What can you see being added that weekend to help support IndyCars? From hearing and seeing comments, fans want more races that weekend so what could be in the works?
Chad Frankenfield
 
RM: It’s tough because of the size of the track. I think east coast Modifieds might help the draw but nobody wants to wring out an engine on that monstrous front straightaway. Red Bull Global Rallycross has been suggested and Robby Gordon’s Stadium SuperTruck series puts on a good show.
 
Q: Thought it was great news about Jack Hawksworth going to Foyt. I didn’t know a deal was in the works, but in retrospect it seems so obvious. Hawksworth is Foyt’s type of driver – no family name or money to hang on, just a guy who clawed and scratched and persevered on his talent to make it. Yeah, he’s not American, but I’d take him over a couple of American trust-fund babies (you know who I’m talking about) any day. After all, isn’t that the American Dream, even if you are not an American?
Steve, Aurora, Colo.
 
RM: He showed his talent and is being rewarded with a paying seat – the way it’s supposed to be. I think A.J. likes Jack’s savvy.  
 
Q: Wow, all this time Indy Car has been struggling with how to regain its glory and put butts in the seats and the answer is right in front of them. Cut the field to 18 cars, have one team dominate and win all of the races and charge people 150 bucks just to get on the property. The people will come out in droves and amazingly they will walk away feeling satisfied.
Bill Early
 
RM: We all know Formula 1 is an acquired taste and there’s certainly not been much intrigue this season, but the COTA crowd looked damn good.
 
Q: As you know, still no IndyCar and I’m forced to watch F1 and NASCRAP. The whole purpose in ending the season early was the start of the NFL season but in reading the last few Mailbags, it seems IndyCar fans like me are watching F1 and NASCRAP so what the shortened season has done has made more people watch F1 and NASCRAP (the real competition) and created the potential of losing fans instead of exposing IndyCar to new fans! They should focus on scheduling races on days there are no F1 and NASCAR or, when NASCAR has night race, maybe a NASCAR fan will watch an IndyCar race as an alternative and become a fan instead of the other way around. Does any of this get to the powers that be in the front office?
Tony, Mamaroneck, NY
 
RM: Judging by the TV ratings, I’d say your theory is spot on – fans of auto racing will watch 12 months a year if given the opportunity. The hope for 2015 is that with NBCSN covering NASCAR and IndyCar, there will be some crossover or at least a chance to have better ratings with stock cars leading into an IndyCar race or vice versa.
 
Q: What should we take away from the TV ratings from this past weekend’s big F1 vs NFL vs NASCAR (with its wrestling undercard) battle royal?
Tim Davis, Detroit, MI
 
RM: We should be very jealous because NASCAR earned a 2.6 on ESPN (4.7 million people) going up against Formula 1 and pro football. Yes, there were a lot of empty seats at Texas but the TV number is damn impressive.


Q: I’m curious if you have a rough car count for the 2015 Indy 500? Any new teams or drivers on the horizon? Do you think we will have bumping on bump day next year?
Scott Alderton

RM: The Byrd family is bringing Bryan Clauson back to Indy with KVSH Racing and Tyce Carlson is working on an Indy plan. Jay Howard will run Indy for Bryan Herta and Davey Hamilton will likely have a new partner (Marshall Pruett will have that story soon). But it’s still going to be a scramble to get 33 cars.

Q: With Kyle Moyer, Andretti Autosport’s director of operations and Marco Andretti’s strategist moving to Team Penske, do you think it was simply a career move or whether he had an issue with Marco’s lack of results in recent years or whether there was an issue with AA as a whole? With that said, I imagine he will be Simon Pagenaud’s strategist next year, correct? And if that’s the case, did his former strategist from SPM decide to stay or move with Simon because I hadn’t heard of or read anything since Pagenaud’s announcement?
Zack, Dayton, Ohio
 
RM: Not sure but I imagine a chance to work for The Captain was too good to turn down. My understanding is that Kyle may go to the stock car side. As for Simon, he’s taking engineer Ben Bretzman with him so he’ll be just fine.

Q: What do you think will happen to Justin Wilson this upcoming season? I feel that a great injustice will be done if he never gets to drive with one of the good teams.
Paul, Indianapolis

RM: I guess we’re all holding out hope he gets the fourth Andretti seat, if there is one.
 
Q: I heard that Penske did a test at COTA. Any feedback on how their lap times compared to F1?
Wally, Eden Prairie, MN

RM: Not a peep but Zack from Atlanta offers this reflection, bearing in mind the Penske were running the Chevrolet aero kit, which is supposed to provide huge gains. “I would think it’s the closest margins since the late 1990s or early 2000s, especially with the F1 using fuel regulators and those degrading tires. I seem to remember the last year Champ Car raced at Montreal, the pole time would have put it 16th out of 20 F1 cars.”
 
Q: Does IndyCar plan on hiring a new race director anytime soon and of so, any word on how the leading candidate(s) might be?
Perry from Indy

RM: Not sure there will be a No. 1 per se, or just a revolving three-man committee but I know Derrick Walker is interested in talking to Brian Till and Memo Gidley, to name a couple of level-headed and respected possibilities. Jon Beekhuis seems interested and Johnny Unser has been in Race Control for the past couple years and enjoys it.
 
Q: I am beginning to believe Bernie is losing it. Top teams running a third car that does not score points? Can you say “moving chicane”? On the other hand, it will be a new potential source of employment for Milka, Hiro, and Greg Ray.
Justin Park City, UT

RM: Then I think I heard him say no way they will allow three-car teams but he may have to in order to have 18. That’s too harsh to put Greg in that class – he stood on the gas.

Q: Two Formula 1 teams have dropped off the grid. Force India says F1 is trying to force the smaller teams out. Please tell me that someone from IndyCar is making contact, telling these team leaders and sponsors that they would be welcomed with open arms to a less costly series that is trying to return to international racing?
John in Charleston

RM: I sent your question to Mark Miles but you have to assume any of the small budget teams were created and financed because it’s F1. Not sure IndyCar holds any interest for Force India.  

Q: I’m sure you saw that two F1 teams were not at the USGP last weekend and looks like they’re done for good. Wondering if you could compare an F1 startup team like Marussia and Caterham versus an IndyCar team. Obviously, we’re talking about vast differences in budget numbers but at least in IndyCar you don’t have the IndyCar organization getting 52 percent of the money off the top. I guess the biggest difference is the TV ratings, assuming F1 has good numbers in Europe and Asia.
Jim Doyle

RM: Couldn’t begin to give an accurate estimate at a start-up team in F1 because, unlike IndyCar, every team builds its own car and that alone is an astronomical fee. Plus, F1 teams get TV money based on their performance but I recall Paul Stoddart of Minardi saying he received $50 million one year and that kept him on the grid.

Q: I remember being about 11 or 12 and my best friend’s mom taking me and him over to somebody’s house to have an up-close and personal look at that car. The day-glow #56 was a beauty. Just parked on a trailer out in the street. So cool.
Jim Patton, Lindale, TX

RM: Jim Hurtubise and the Tombstone Life Special were a fast combination until he was severely burned at Milwaukee in June of 1964 – just a few laps after this picture (BELOW) was taken.


ABOVE: F5000 at Mosport, 1976 – Brian Redman leads eventual winner, Alan Jones, and Danny Ongais – all three in Lola T332s. In fourth is Jackie Oliver in the Shadow DN6B


Q: I have written in several times with thoughts of what IndyCar could do to improve the series. Though the racing is great, we all know what continues to hold the series back is costs. We read constantly about how teams struggle to find the money to race in the series. So here is my question of the week: Why does the series require building such expensive cars using ultra expensive technology? For example, I haven’t read a single article on why the cars need a $25,000 steering wheel using computer-controlled paddle shifter transmissions, instead of a traditional manual transmission with a clutch pedal. And I don’t believe the argument that the manufacturers have to use this technology to promote their street cars. Most people I know are not driving a Ferrari 458 to work using the paddle shifter and adjustable suspension to blast through traffic.

I believe one of the solutions to cut costs is to go back in time. IndyCar could build a modern carbon fiber chassis based on my favorite open wheel race car, the Lola T332 from the F5000 series of the mid ’70s. In 1975, a competitive F5000 car cost $60,000. I’m not sure what that translates to in 2014 dollars, but I bet it would be less than the cost of a Dallara. The design of this car is very simple. And I don’t see any negatives in eliminating the computers and bringing back the driver, one whose skill at braking and heel-toe downshifting used to make a difference in the outcome of a race. This is the reason your video series of Dan Gurney and your latest videos from your office are so popular – because we always remember the driver. Finally with the F5000 design, we could bring something forward that worked very well in 1975: the onboard starter!
Rick Schneider

RM: If you are ever going to get the car count back up to 40-45 cars in May something drastic needs to happen – agreed. My pal Bob Grim Jr. has said for years they need to get rid of carbon fiber and go back to aluminum and fiberglass so lots of sprint car, modified and sports car teams could afford to try Indianapolis. Keep the carbon fiber cockpit intact as protection for the driver but paddle-shifting removed an important component of road racing and I’d like to see all the computers banned as well. But don’t hold your breath.

Q: This may not fall under Allison Melangton’s job description, but she is seemingly well suited to make it happen. For many years now, the Tower Terrace has featured large swathes of empty seats on race day at the Indy 500, even as attendance has improved and re-filled stands on the outside of the track. This looks bad on TV and detracts from the race’s presentation as a big-time event. Why not give those tickets away to youth groups around central Indiana? Focus on groups that further the priorities of the Speedway / IndyCar/ Indianapolis such as expanding diversity among the fanbase; planting seeds of interest among today’s youth to grow the future fanbase; connecting with youth with interest/ability in STEM disciplines; etc. In the short term, it would improve the presentation of the event to the TV audience and sponsors. In the long run, it could create future growth. And it wouldn’t hurt to take an unused asset (empy seats) and spread goodwill among segments of Central Indiana that might not currently feel any connection to what happens at the Speedway every May.
Kirby, Indianapolis, IN
 
RM: Sounds like a good plan. I believe IMS has done it in the past in other sections and letting school kids into practice for free seems like a no-brainer. 

Q: Love your videos on Racer.com. Any chance Don Cherry and you would be able to team up for a video, or possibly a roundtable discussion in the near future? Since hockey and Indy cars are both on NBC and NBCSN, I think such a cross-platform collaboration would make for some great promotion and epic outtake reels! So what say you?
Kyle
P.S. if you are unfamiliar with Don Cherry, here is a clip  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX0XFJInqqQ

RM: I’m all for it but we would need an outlet on NBCSN and it’s possible. My outtakes are vulgar but mildly amusing (especially when I started at ESPN). Thanks for watching.

Q: Just a “what if” question to kill a few minutes of this painfully long off-season. What if Dario hadn’t had to retire prematurely and he could have raced theoretically as long as Helio–in your opinion, based on each driver’s talent and his team’s capabilities, which one would have gotten his 4th Indy win first? My money would have been on Dario.
Darrick, Brownsburg, IN

RM: Indy was made for Dario with his smooth, analytical style and Rick Mears’ mentality. I think he could have won a couple more and, don’t forget, Uncle Bobby was 48 when he won his third. Helio came damn close last May and he’s still got 2-3 good shots left.

Q: Boy, Miller, you have punched so many of my buttons that I will make several replies over time. Re: Paul Tracy A true racer’s racer, he brings so much to the broadcast booth. I was a flagger during a test session at a track south of Houston where several of the top teams were evaluating new talent a few years ago. As the chief flagger was driving us around the course on our way to lunch, he asked me where the cars were braking for my corner. When I pointed out the braking point, he remarked “That’s where Paul Tracy was grabbing top gear.” Yikes!
I’ve been a fan of Indy cars since the 1950s and have seen many of the changes you speak of regularly. The world has turned many times since then and the marketing climate has no similarities to what prevailed during the peak of CART. Social media, internet, cable TV, as well as the traditional sports all compete for the time and interest of the public. I hate to say it but I think we have sanitized racing to the point where only real fans want to watch rather than the “old days” when admittedly ghoulish folks just wanted to see mayhem.
I sure don’t want to go back to the dangerous old days but I do think we should let the drivers race without penalties. In the past, drivers sorted out this behavior if it got out of hand. This would be a small part of an increased spectacle. Next, give them lots more horsepower and wooden tires. When the tires are overtaxed the true drivers emerge. Love your point about Lloyd Ruby pitting at 140mph – let’s bring that back and keep the crews safe your way. Pit stops would be longer but they would affect everyone equally.
Keep the faith
E. Karlsson

RM: My feature on P.T. in the new RACER has some good insight from his fellow drivers and owners and everyone agrees his uniqueness is missed. The dangers of racing helped make it popular, that’s a fact, but there’s no going back in that area.


Q: Hi Robin. Just a quick note to say thanks for a super article on Greg. I have shared it with many friends who are also deeply touched. His name still lives on with the foundation we formed in his name to continue working with the many charities he worked with many deserving children and distressed families. Thanks again. Every day we miss him and I know you are aware of the special bond he and I had. He had a short but amazingly full life. We keep hearing about some of his many adventures off track and always have a laugh about his love of life and the fun he had. Thanks again for keeping his memory in front of so many.
Ric, Donna, James and Annie Moore
 
RM: Thanks for your kind words Ric, nice to hear from you. RACER editor David Malsher gets credit for making the call to run my story on Greg from RACER magazine five years ago and it turned out to be the highest-viewed story on RACER’s website last week. Hinch also did a very nice tribute on RACER.com which I believe was the second highest-viewed story.

I always smile when I think about the first time I met Greg in Toronto after he’d smoked the Lights field. “Hi Greg, my name is Robin Miller and I write for the Indianapolis Star,” I said. He took a drink of water and returned the handshake: “I know who you are and I think you’re going to be writing about me for a long time.” I loved his attitude and as I got to know him, that sense of living in the moment. There’s nothing anyone can say to bring back his glowing light but please take some solace in the fact he was so good, so popular and such a great kid. His memory still resonates 15 years later and that tells me how special he was to so many people.

Q: Thanks for the article on Greg Moore. What would he have done behind the wheel of a Team Penske car?
Trevor Bohay

RM: Multiple Indy 500 wins and championships.  
 
Q: Thanks to both you and James Hinchcliffe for sharing your memories of Greg Moore last week. It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years already. My friends and I were sitting in the stands that day at the California Speedway (we still call it that). Greg finished second the previous year, was amazing to watch on ovals and we knew that he’d be one of the drivers to watch. We looked for Greg during drivers introductions and don’t believe that he participated because of a broken hand or finger. Something was strange that day and after they only rebroadcast the accident once, we knew that something went horribly wrong. Helicopter took off. Flags came down half-mast. Teammate Patrick Carpentier was pulled out of the race. The crowd sat stunned, the wind knocked from our lungs, a somber blanket covering the crowd. Still early in the race, the gladiators got back on it and after some clean up, finished the race.
This was a couple years after fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve won the Indy 500 from two laps down and then shipped off to Formula 1. Canadian Paul Tracy spent a few years terrorizing the pack in his Penske. And then Greg Moore shows up as the newest Canadian in the best looking car out there, the Players blue, and inspired many fans and drivers with his craft and persona. You knew he was going places after destroying the competition in his last year of Indy Lights, and enjoyed watching him right up through the signing with Penske, knowing for certain that he was putting his mark on the sport.
Looking back at the stats for that year, Greg retired in eight of the last twelve races and still finished 10th in the championship. Greg was a champion in the making during a time of heroes like Zanardi, Montoya, Villeneuve, Tracy, Unser Jr., de Ferran, and Michael Andretti. God bless his soul.
John Merli, San Diego
 
RM: I think Hinch’s tribute spoke for a lot of people and not just Canadians. There was an excitement and anticipation about watching him race that made him instantly popular.  
 
Q: It has been 15 years since the Indy Car world lost two humble members. Anytime we remember Fontana, we still hear the echos of the tragedy of Greg Moore. And looking back at his résumé, he almost swept the Indy Lights series back in 1995 after finishing 3rd the year before. By looking at his results before entering the IndyCar series, that would have been enough to become the “Next Canadian F1 hopeful.” It did not make sense why he was ignored. I could see him test any F1 machinery back then.
But anyway – Forsythe took the gamble and four years time, Roger decided to pounce on the chance to have Greg in his team. But fate took a wrong turn and Greg was gone. I could imagine what kind of a driver he would have been either both in IndyCar and in F1.
Dale Coyne has been keeping busy trying to establish for the 2015 season. Back in 1997 when I was a delivery driver for a flooring company, I remember while driving the I-80 I realized that I passed his HQ in Plainfield. Before it was DCR, it was PCR – Payton-Coyne Racing. It was all about #34 – Sweetness. Right after Walter Payton hung up his cleats, he decided to explore that new venture into motorsports. He got involved in racing and wanted to establish his Indy car team. But soon after his death, Coyne became sole proprietor of the team. In these stories, what where their aftermaths?
JLS, Chicago

RM: I don’t think it was much of a gamble, putting Greg in an Indy car. His debut at Homestead was nothing short of breathtaking. I think R.P. had the wheels in motion to get Greg as soon as 1998 but contracts had to run out. As for Sweetness, there wasn’t a finer gentleman and he was so gung-ho about CART racing. I think Walter was as well liked as anyone in the paddock. Their aftermaths? They both got a lot out of life in a relatively short time.

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

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