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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: RACER.com’s IndyCar 2018 series of opinions has been very interesting and I agree totally with the ideas of Mario and Rick Mears. In the latest one, Mark Dill raises some interesting points. There may be merit in his suggestion to include dirt ovals in the championship. Setting aside the idea that the current team owners might not want to invest in another set of cars, what do you think the driver’s thoughts would be? Perhaps a quick survey of their opinions would be in order? It would seem that you are the perfect person to conduct that survey. The question would be: “Would you embrace the idea of having some dirt track races on the schedule?” I’m betting the true racers would relish the challenge. I suppose a survey of the owners is in order as well. However, the questions need to be posed to the drivers and owners separately.
RM: I can give you a quick straw vote. Ed Carpenter (schooled in USAC), Tony Kanaan (ran Tony Stewart’s Prelude at Eldora), Ryan Hunter-Reay (wanted to run in this month’s Chili Bowl) and Will Power (he grew up on the dirt in Australia) would be game (and maybe Scott Dixon) but it makes no difference because NONE of the owners would go for it except Sarah Fisher and Carpenter.
Q: IndyCar’s main asset is the Indy 500. This event is what made IndyCar great. This should be the primary focus for the future. You make the Indy 500 great again and the rest of IndyCar will follow. How do we do this? First of all open up the rulebook. Innovation, new cars and engines are what people came to see. With spec racing we have great racing and finishes but it is not making a difference. Go back to what brought people in.
Innovation is too expensive, you say? OK. To steal from Robin Miller, making the show $1,000,000 and winning $10,000,000. Add $1,000,000 for the pole. Also take the road course race out of the month of May. Go back to the entire month with two weeks of qualifying so the teams can test their new cars.
Also have an oval race before the 500 so the teams can run their new cars. This will increase the car count at that oval race. Make the 500 a carnival and festival. Keep the traditions. Improve the facility by upgrading the restrooms. Add lots of video screens. Keep the food prices reasonable. Promote the race all over the country and do it early. Have interacting facilities for the youth and kids. Have lots of opportunities for meet and greet of current and ex-drivers. Bring out all the old cars and show them off and drive them around the track.
This will cost a lot of money, but I believe with this format you will get new teams, cars, and engines from all over the world, and people will come to the track and listen to it on the radio and watch it on TV. Make the Indy 500 great and IndyCar will once again be great.
RM: One way to get IndyCar back on the map would be a rules package that invites competition from F1, NASCAR and sports car drivers/teams instead of the closed shop it is today. But the Leader’s Circle also has to go to get Indy’s purse up to the numbers that would draw big interest. And, unless you have 45 cars going for 33 spots, no need to have more than a week of practice and two days of qualifying.
Q: What’s the real story with Justin Wilson? I’ve been a fan of his since he came to Champ Car and, other than Newman-Haas, he’s never got a ride to match his ability. Is there any hope for him having a good full-time ride in 2015?
Steve Schaeffer, Tustin, CA
RM: Spoke with Justin last night and he’s “cautiously optimistic” something good is going to break for him but wouldn’t go into any detail. I know Jimmy Vasser wants him for the second car at KVSH if they can find the money but I also keep hearing Andretti will have JWil in the fourth car and that a fifth car is in the works with Zach Veach on the ovals and Jean-Eric Vergne handling the road races.
Q: Is the plan to attempt to break the speed record at Indy still on or did IndyCar realize that was a stupid idea? On paper, I’m all for the average speed at Indy being 230mph for qualifying or whatever, but when I look back to the ’90s and the speed and injuries that happened I just don’t have a good feeling about this.
RM: I believe the goal was to break Arie Luyendyk’s track record in the 100th running (2016) but I guess we’ll have to see how much this year’s aero kits add to the speeds. Jovy Marcelo lost his life because of inadequate cockpit protection – not speed – and Scott Brayton likely would have survived his accident with today’s safety features for the driver.
Q: Mears and others have suggested decreasing downforce to make the cars more challenging to drive. In addition to that, what are your thoughts on increasing horsepower and on eliminating fuel settings beyond just full and yellow flag?
RM: It’s way over my head but what fans seem to want is the visual of a driver sliding his car in the corners or fighting for control but I’m not sure that’s ever going to be possible with today’s cars and tires. And I have no idea how you take fuel mileage out of the equation.
Q: Is Chip going to officially assign Sage to a car? In my opinion, it is criminal to not have him in the series full time. I loved watching him during the 500 last year – a hard charger!
RM: I think so. Chip flew Kyle Larson and Sage to Las Vegas for the SEMA show last month and then Karam tested an Indy car at Sebring with Dario on the pit box helping the kid. Ganassi admitted in a story I wrote a couple months ago that he wanted to run Sage in his fourth car if the budget could be found and it sounds like everything is positive.
Q: I was watching Jeopardy a few days ago and they had a category where you matched the month with the major event in that category. When it got to “May/Open-wheel racing” no one even tried to buzz. That alone would make me rethink my marketing if I was IndyCar.
Kurt Ullman, Carmel, IN
RM: It’s a rather sad sign of the times. Surprised somebody didn’t guess The Little 500.
Q: I was reading various articles this year on RACER.com about former IndyCar/CART tracks and ovals. I recalled that one of the former IRL tracks in the “heartland of America” was the Nashville Superspeedway. On the Nashville Superspeedway Wikipedia web page, it states that the Speedway racetrack, including all assets and equipment, was purchased in 2014 by a company called “NexOvation, Inc.” I followed the link from Wikipedia to the NexOvation webpage, and was surprised to see an open-wheel racecar on the company’s background screen when choosing the reader language (English or German)!
OK…it doesn’t really look like the DW12, but it does look a little like the new IL-15! According to Wikipedia, the Nashville Superspeedway hasn’t hosted any type of major race series since 2011 (NASCAR Trucks) and the IRL/IndyCar hasn’t raced there since 2008. It would be very positive for IndyCar to consider racing at this track again as: 1) they would be the only major series racing in Nashville, 2) IndyCar could use another oval on its schedule, 3) it would be a unique distance oval on the IndyCar schedule at 1.333 miles, and 4) local hometown hero Josef Newgarden would likely be a big boost to growing a local fan base. Do you know if there is any activity between IndyCar management and the new owners to host a race in the near future?
Chuck, Columbus, OH
(Bring back the Cleveland Grand Prix!)
RM: The IRL’s run in Nashville filled most of the large grandstand from 2001-’08 [ABOVE] but it didn’t hold a lot of people and the races weren’t real entertaining. I always figured if Firestone pushed hard, it could return to the schedule but there’s been no discussion to my knowledge. IndyCar visited Gateway in Madison, Ill. last month but, as we’ve seen, ovals have become a tough sell.
Q: Now that Verizon is the presenting sponsor of the series, any idea if they will open up the IndyCar App content to all mobile devices, not just Verizon subscribers?
Vincent Martinez, Arcadia, CA
RM: All IndyCar will say on that subject is: “the fans are going to like what’s coming.”
Q: It has been 13 years since Bryan Herta made his tryout with Minardi. I wonder what kind of future it will hold out for Colton (Bryan’s son). He was very impressive in an Asia Cup event last September scoring a win. This year, he will be in Europe competing in the MSA Formula series. And Carlin Motorsport has acquired his services.
As far as Carlin goes, they have decided to expand into the Indy Lights series so it will be interesting if Bryan Herta and Carlin may merge in a near future because Carlin might expand into IndyCar in the future. But for Colton, it could mean either staying within the family in IndyCar or have the chance that his dad never had – race an F1 car in the future.
RM: A 14-year-old in a strange country without friends and family is pretty daunting but Colton seems to have the perfect demeanor and determination to make it, along with the talent. Having Carlin sign him up is a good indicator and you can’t get a better education than he’s facing.
Q: Got any kind of a car count for Lights? How many new teams? This may be the best avenue in luring and developing new blood in IndyCar.
RM: At least two new teams and the car count looks to be somewhere between 17-20 although Marshall Pruett has the most up to date estimate here. Yes, I definitely think the new car/engine package has raised the interest level.
Q: A little while back I paused to think about my fellow Canadians at Indy. It seems that a fairly high level of controversy or very close finishes surrounds their achievements. Scott Goodyear versus Little Al in 1992; Goodyear versus Jacques Villeneuve in 1995; Goodyear versus Arie Luyendyk in 1999; Paul Tracy versus Helio in 2002. My question for you, “Who are the Canadians who really won the Indy 500”? Not the record book stats; we can all look those up. I want to know from an impartial guy who lives and breathes this stuff. Also are there any close or controversial Canadian finishes that I have missed here?
Duncan, Port Perry, Ontario
RM: Tracy is the only Canadian “winner” I know of whose likeness isn’t on the Borg-Warner Trophy [ABOVE, 2002] and Goodyear is the only Canuck who threw one away. Greg Moore would have been an Indy winner but never got a chance to compete at IMS except in the IROC race, Alex Tagliani won the pole in 2011, Patrick Carpentier missed out because of The Split, John Cannon had plenty of talent but never the equipment, Billy Foster was killed after only two starts at Indy, the other Jacques Villeneuve kept knocking down the wall while Eldon Rasmussen, Claude Bourbonnais and Cliff Hucul drove marginal equipment and David Empringham and Lee Bentham never got a shot. But James Hinchcliffe runs well at IMS and he’s usually in the hunt.
Q: I am a 24-year-old RHR fan and longtime Mailbag reader who has been to several Champ Car/IndyCar races out in California over the past few years, and I’m giving serious consideration to making the pilgrimage to Indianapolis this year for both the 500 and the Night Before the 500. Never been to the place, on a bit of a budget, but big on enthusiasm for both events. Do you have any pointers and “must-dos” should I decide to go? Also, what’s the word on the fourth seat at Andretti and who is Ed Carpenter sharing the #20 with?
Garrett White, San Diego, CA
RM: Buy a ticket in one of the vistas in the corners – best bargain by far. Then get a ticket to the Little 500 in Anderson (45 miles from IMS) because the Night Before the 500 only had nine midgets last May and pavement racing in USAC is almost dead (unless Andy Hillenberg can save it). Go to the IMS museum and take a ride around the track. Hoping Justin Wilson is in the fourth Andretti car and J.R. Hildebrand is Ed’s co-pilot in No. 20.
Q: I have always thought that the Speedway should develop an Arlington Memorial type cemetery. If well done, (I see an elevated, private park-like area with lots of intimate turns and walkways perhaps were the old Motel was or the area just across 16th to be redone) drivers and their families can have that option to be memorialized for all the years to follow.
Race fans young and old can visit and enjoy a unique tribute for each driver…how about an Eternal Flame coming out of a set of Ford V8 velocity stacks for AJ! We will say goodbye to so many important heroes in the next 20 years it would be a shame to not at least explore this idea. It is in keeping with the reverence the Speedway shows the brace fallen every Memorial Day.
Joe Wicker, Greenwood, IN
RM: Damn good suggestion Joe. I’d like to see a new IMS museum and put a memorial inside with photos and a little bio about all the drivers who lost their lives at Indianapolis.
Q: Big fan of the Mailbag. So I wrote to you for the first time a couple of months ago about this subject. And I see this huge momentum swing towards IndyCar with the Europeans and South Americans in all categories (GP2, GP3, Formula Renault, F1 reserve drivers, etc.). So why aren’t IndyCar, Honda, Chevy, and teams not expanding the car counts for next year? It seems ridiculous to me. There is a lot of top talent out there looking for rides (some of which bring good funding also).
We could see 26-28 cars next year at most races if the teams add more cars. Now is the time to grow, with the increased demand and the little momentum IndyCar is picking up. I am a huge fan and have been for over 25 years. It doesn’t make sense to me but maybe you can shed some light on it for me.
Fernando Diaz, Torrance, CA
RM: I mentioned in an earlier answer that Michael Andretti may expand to five cars with F1’s Vergne running the road races and Roger Penske is fielding four cars in 2015. But just because some of those young drivers are available doesn’t mean they have enough money to run an IndyCar full-time. I think Sam Schmidt, Dale Coyne, Bryan Herta and maybe even KVSH are open to adding a paying driver from one of the disciplines you named but adding more cars takes more owners and I don’t see a big line outside the IndyCar offices. Plus, GM and Honda have an allotted number of engines so that also figures into any conversation about adding teams. But Carlin starting a Lights team with its eye on IndyCar is certainly the best off-season news.
Q: Thanks for the book recommendation on “Fearless”. Santa was kind of enough to put one in my Christmas stocking and I have been enjoying it immensely. In the back I saw a photo of my fellow Washingtonian Tom Sneva flashing a smile after winning a race in the infamous rear-engine sprint car. It prompted me to Google the car and check out some photos of it. My question is did you ever see the rear engine sprinter in action or race against it? Your thoughts on it?
Steve Ruedy, Redmond, WA
RM: Carl Gehlhausen converted an old Indy car into that rear-engine sprinter that Sneva used [ABOVE, photo uncredited] to win an Indy ride with Grant King. A couple more surfaced in 1973 and 1974 before USAC outlawed them. My thought is that these cars had been a way to get sprint drivers some rear-engine experience and, after taking the dirt races out of the National Championship in 1971, banning rear-engined sprinters was just another nail in the coffin of the USAC driver at Indianapolis.
Q: I know this long off-season has gotta be killing you but was thinking that since the 1960s I’ve noticed that IndyCar drivers have always driven in sports car events when they have the time. Maybe IMSA and the WEC should do more double-header events. Also I love how RACER magazine doesn’t make NASCAR their priority. Great magazine.
RM: No, what’s killing me is betting NFL football but that’s another story. Back in the ‘60s, A.J., Mario, Rube, Dan and Parnelli raced Sebring, Daytona and The Times Grand Prix at Riverside because they loved to race – those were all big events and they were free to drive anything they wanted. Today’s IndyCar drivers don’t have a lot of options other than sports cars a couple times a year but they damn sure need to be racing more than six months a year.
Yes, RACER has more focus on open-wheel because the editors figure there are magazines that specialize in NASCAR if that’s your thing. Stock car racing is always represented for those who like racing of all kinds, but being a monthly, RACER has the luxury of picking the truly important NASCAR topics rather than the mundane non-stories about who said what about whom. Glad you like the format.
Q: I plan on attending the 24 Hours of Daytona later this month. This will be the 4th year in a row for my kids and me to see the event and I can’t imagine a better value race in motorsports for the amount of access to drivers, action and activities. We’ve met many top IndyCar and sports car (and a couple of former F1) drivers and watched them race around the clock.
My question is why is NASCAR so poorly represented in the field? Other than Jamie McMurray last year for Ganassi, no other NASCAR drivers were in any of the race’s four classes. Is there concern about their lap times being compared to drivers from these other disciplines?
Mark Cardella, Tampa, FL
RM: Not sure why but I imagine contracts and the grind of the NASCAR season deters some guys. A.J. Allmendinger runs every year, Jimmie Johnson has driven a few times – and impressed his co-drivers, including Alex Gurney [BELOW, 2010] – and I would think Kurt Busch would relish the challenge, but I don’t think those guys would be worried about how they stack up. After Dale Earnhardt Jr. got burned at Sonoma in a sports car race, I think some owners vetoed anything but stock cars for their drivers. IndyCar drivers need to run Daytona to try and knock off the rust.
Q: Always read your RACER stories when I can. Many years ago I had an aunt pass away and she collected Indianapolis Star newspapers the day after the 500 all the way back from the 50s. I took the front covers, had them laminated, put in frames and covered my basement walls in my small Speedway home’s basement. While moving things around I noticed how many times you did the feature article the day after the race. Pretty cool.
What I find odd, though, is how some covers really stand out. Great picture(s) or clever headlines. Other times the headline and or picture did not do the race coverage justice. Some years they would focus on an accident instead of the winning driver. Do you have any covers that you were fond of, and are there ones that you truly wished they would have done over or better?
PS. I know Gene Simmons and he knows me. I started his fan club in 1975, the KISS Army. Always love your comments about his Indy car tenure!
RM: I think in some of those races the headline writer had to weigh the result with the tragedy like “Foyt wins but Sachs, MacDonald killed”. In those days it was more geared to facts than anything featurish because The Star and The News were the papers of record. Nowadays, with social media, it’s not as newsy and I guess I always liked “Unserpassed” when Little Al won in 1994 [ABOVE].
Q: Really enjoy your looking back videos on RACER.com. Didn’t Lee Kunzman drive that car that got the nickname “the penalty box” a couple of times? It was the tube-framed car with a full roll cage at Indy in 1970 originally driven by Bruce Walkup. It was built by a well-known drag racer at the time, but age keeps me from remembering his name. At Indy, it was owned by Leonard Faas, who was either an unpleasant human being or a person having trouble at Indy trying to overcome the nervousness of the whole scene. Your memories?
Ft. Worth Dan
RM: The car you are speaking of was called a Wolverine and it was built by Don Edmunds, the 1957 rookie-of-the-year at Indianapolis whose design revolutionized midget racing in the 1970s. That yellow “Penalty Box” was originally assigned to Bill Vukovich Jr, who wisely passed it on to teammate Walkup. It never made the race, Walkup qualified the Mongoose chassis and Faas owned both cars in 1971. I didn’t know Leonard but he could be a little gruff at the track and the “Penalty Box” might have had something to do with that. Kunzman never had to drive that particular penalty box but related a bad experience with another s***box:
“A guy named Jack Fox brought this car and I was running at the Speedway when the rear wing exploded going down the backstretch. It scattered styrofoam all over the track because they had used styrofoam instead of metal spars inside the wing. Clarence Cagle [IMS track superintendent] was so pissed off he threw us out of Gasoline Alley and probably saved my life. Danny Jones took over the car and found out the geometry was all messed up so he fixed it and we ran it in the California 500 at Ontario. I think I was only 10 laps down.”
Q: Good racing isn’t pack racing, nor is it hundreds of passes a race. The Hanford Device was an absolute disaster. Slingshot pass after slingshot pass, and the racing was terrible. The race was won by whoever was able to slingshot last.
Good racing is drama; it’s rivalries: Unser Jr. and Fittipaldi at Indy. Mears chasing Johncock at Indy. Fittipaldi attempting to put Unser Jr a lap down and crashing at Indy. It was drama that suddenly unfolded.
You say that IndyCar racing was better than F1 racing last year. I disagree. The drama within Mercedes, the return of Williams, Vettel getting easily bested by Ricciardo was much more interesting. It was better than anything IndyCar offered. That’s the problem with IndyCar – there is no drama. Yes, cars pass in IndyCar, but so what? I’d rather see a race where Marco Andretti leads every lap and then Scott Dixon steals the last lap from him, with the threat building during over course of the race.
S.P. Brown, Grand Junction, CO
RM: Well, Alex Zanardi agreed with you that the Hanford Device was nothing more than manufactured passing but the people at MIS and watching on television LOVED all the overtaking. And Greg Moore beating Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser on the last lap in ’98 was dramatic. It’s all personal preference but I’d much rather go to a race not knowing who is going to win than watch the same two guys lead every lap with superior equipment. There is an argument for domination and why it’s good for a sport and, you are correct, all the passing and different winners in IndyCar the past two years haven’t resonated with the general public/race fan in terms of attendance or ratings. But, for me, it’s more entertaining knowing 12-14 drivers could win any race and little teams like Coyne, Herta or Schmidt could beat Penske or Ganassi.
Q: Robin, from the 12/31/14 Orlando Sentinel, sports reporter David Whitley did a satirical nostalgic look, month by month on major sports in 2014, and I had to share this one. I know it will end your 2014 with a laugh, especially being a “fan” of Danica for so many years. June: After another 30th-place finish, Stewart-Haas Racing replaces Danica Patrick with California Chrome. “He doesn’t look as good in a bikini,” Tony Stewart said, “but at least he’s won a race in the last eight years.”
Looking forward to the 2015 racing season, I personally get it kicked off at the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona next week. Wishing you the best in 2015 and looking forward to your continued articles, interviews, and insight in all things IndyCar and more. As a race fan since the ’60s, keep the historic photos and articles coming. The past is the way to the future. Still laughing.
Frank T. Gizzo, Kissimmee, FL
RM: Thanks Frank, but Danica lapped Chase contender Kasey Kahne three times at Richmond so I haven’t given up on her yet.
Q: Love reading this every week, great job! I recently saw Smoke is discontinuing his USAC team. Bummer! What is so poor with the USAC leadership that would cause him to leave? I’ve also noticed car counts are down on most USAC shows during the summer (20-25) when WoO shows are steady in the 30-35 range.
RM: I haven’t asked so I’m guessing but you can make decent money in WoO compared to USAC so it may be more about that than anything else. USAC’s leadership has always been poor so other than trying to kill off pavement racing I’m not sure if anything new has happened that would have pissed off Stew.
Q: OK Miller, “sky is falling” time, I suppose. As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, interest in racing is down right now, across the board. While some of this is no doubt cyclical, I’m beginning to worry that some of it may also be directly attributable to the fact that people (and not just Americans) care less and less about the joy of driving. For years now, auto manufacturers have become adept at producing and mass-marketing such soul-numbing (read practical) innovations as the SUV/minivan, electric powered engines, automatic slush boxes, front-wheel drive, etc, etc. And, for its part, the consumer has lapped it all up. In fact, it’s all many of them have ever known from birth. It’s gotten to the point that most of these folks can’t even fathom what makes for a great car, let alone a great driver.
Now, and while it might be the extreme example, add to all of this the self-driving car. When manufacturers like Audi can successfully send a robot car bombing around a track at 150mph, it shows such technology for the everyday commuting world is closer than anyone might have previously thought.
So what sort of realistic, long-term prospects does motorsport have? How will the man or woman of the all-too-near future, who’s more than happy to let a computer drive them everywhere, ever be able to relate to the quaint notion of human beings driving themselves for sport? Is auto racing destined to become the modern equivalent of horse racing? Talk me down off the ledge.
Chicken Little (M.G. – Kentfield, CA)
RM: There are few true muscle cars anymore, kids don’t care about driving, let alone high-performance cars or racing, and unless XBox comes out with a game, racing is doomed with the younger generation. I guess the only way to sell anybody is dragging them to a race but good luck with that unless it’s downtown in a big city. As for that robot car, it’s already been perfected at Talladega and Daytona until the last 10 laps.
[ABOVE: Alberto Ascari in the Ferrari 375 in which he competed at the 1952 Indy 500 until one of the wire wheels collapsed under load. IMS photo]
Q: Anytime a racing series has announced a commitment to controlling costs, what inevitably follows is a period of certain decline. A series that is largely founded on the notion of controlling costs (IRL) is doomed. People love excess. In most things that are cool and interesting in life, rampant, runaway extravagance is part of the attraction. Think about the peaks of virtually all major racing series – I would argue they all helped drive themselves off the pinnacle by embarking to control costs.
When CART was rocking, huge money was flowing in AND out. Same with F1. Ditto NASCAR. For many fans, sheer excess and the cutting edge technology it bought was much more of the attraction than the racing itself. Fans don’t care about how much it costs to run a race team. In fact, the more that is at stake, the more interesting it becomes. The businesses that sponsor motorsports whine about costs and push for controls, but, ironically, they don’t bail out until the series declines from lack of interest and their return on investment drops off the radar. As long as the fans are rabid and pay attention, money is there, regardless of the cost. You gotta pay to play in the “big time”, and people always strive to make the “big time.”
Cost controls are really ONLY for all the owners who AREN’T Roger Penske. They know that in a truly open environment, he would dominate them even more than he already does. They have to find ways to keep him and owners like him reeled in. I don’t blame them – this is their private club and how can a mere millionaire compete with RP with no holds barred?
Roger Penske won’t be around forever. I believe once he is gone, the yardstick that other owners measure themselves by will also be gone and their interest in IndyCar will go with it. For IndyCar to survive past the Roger Penske era, we need to BRING BACK EXCESS. Given the sad state of attendance and TV viewership, it isn’t going to come from sponsors or fans. The only way to crack open the door to excess is to tear up the equipment and testing section of the rulebook and replace it with one that is about a page long.
Let racers go crazy and, for the most part, bring what they want. Honda and Chevy would bail, but so what? Their money is not helping anyway – the series is on life support with it. If people really started paying attention again, they would line up to come back. There have been a couple billionaires who have expressed that they might be interested in IndyCar but that they are not interested in a spec series. A chance to REALLY compete against RP and ALL the tools at his disposal might well entice completely different and unexpected sources of money right back into the series.
“Sorry” to most of the current owners who won’t be able to hang…unless, of course, they figure out how to build a better mousetrap through creativity, innovation, and hard work. Isn’t that what it was all about in the first place?
RM: Good rant to start 2015. Whatever Andy Granatelli spent on the turbine, he and Indy racing got back 100 times in publicity. Ditto for Colin Chapman, Dan Gurney and Ford or Jim Hall and the Chaparral. Newman/Haas and Mansell. Or The Captain and the Mercedes. It’s those moments we tend to revere because they created such a buzz and, I’ll agree, there is no buzz in IndyCar.
Obviously, it takes an open rulebook, or at least a revised one, to invite ideas and new players and Penske would be leading the way. But, before you blow things up, you need to know if there’s a new core of potential owners or manufacturers in the wings and I’m not sure that’s a reality.
I know, I know – nothing is going to happen if IndyCar’s status quo is maintained and aero kits haven’t inspired any new blood, either. IndyCar has to do something so radical or enticing that McLaren, Audi, Ferrari or Mercedes want to play along with NASCAR and United SportsCar teams. The string holding IndyCar together right now is so frayed and it’s a lot more smoke and mirrors than anyone wants to admit. Dan Gurney pointed out the problems 35 years ago in the White Paper and most of them are alive and kicking right now. And I don’t see anybody on 16th Street with any solutions.