Robin Miller's Mailbag for January 28, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for January 28, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for January 28, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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: I don’t know how credible any of this is but I just read an article by Norris McDonald, Wheels Editor, from the Toronto Star website. His article dated 1/25 is titled “IndyCar on Borrowed Time; TSN, SportsNet Ignore Daytona” cites an email from a ‘friend’ that claims the following: “I recently read that at least one major IndyCar sponsor isn’t with the series this year and two are on their last year and won’t renew because of the short season. If that isn’t a wake-up call, then what the hell is Miles waiting for?” I’m assuming the one sponsor that was talked about was the National Guard? But have you heard anything about other major sponsors pulling the plug? I will now refer to IndyCar in any future emails I compose as the ‘NFL’ (for Not F-ing Listening!)
Rob Peterson, Rochester, NY

RM: Not sure which sponsors Norris was referring to but his story echoed what a lot of us have been writing and saying the past several months. I won’t go into detail (yet) but one IndyCar owner told me he sent Miles an email a couple months ago because one of his primary sponsors was going to bail after 2015 unless the season got lengthened by at least two-three months. (BTW, he claims he’s still waiting on a response from Miles). Another owner showed me a letter from a longtime sponsor that declined to be involved this season because a six-month season wasn’t workable. It appears that the only people who think a short season is a good idea is Miles and, of course, the Boston Consulting Group. But the short season isn’t why The National Guard pulled the plug.     

Q: I couldn’t help but notice that it was Ganassi’s B-team, consisting entirely of full-time IndyCar (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan) and NASCAR (Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray) drivers, that took home the checkered flag at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. While this might be a boost for IndyCar (as it lends added legitimacy to IndyCar drivers racing sports cars on occasion), I can’t help but think it might negatively affect IMSA now that their crown-jewel event has been won by a lineup of non-sports car “ringers.” Were I a hard-core IMSA fan, I would be somewhat embarrassed that the series regulars just got taken to school by a hodgepodge of outsiders (likewise, I’m sure many IndyCar faithful would probably have felt the same way had Kurt Busch won the Indy 500). Anyhow, my point is this: While it’s definitely a big marketing boost to have these drivers race cross-series on occasion, what does it say about the quality level of the series (especially the talent level of the drivers) when these “ringers” are able to take home trophies? If Will Power were to decide tomorrow that he’s going to race the Daytona 500 and actually ends up pulling into Victory Lane come February, I know my first reaction would be to look at the NASCAR regulars and ask “Really? What happened?” Case-in-point, many NASCAR fans point to the fact that the “road course ringers” have not won a Cup race since 1973 as evidence of the all-around quality of today’s series regulars. A win in the Daytona 500 by an outsider could potentially be devastating to the perceived talent level of NASCAR drivers. That considered, should steps be taken to minimize cross-series racing? Or is all of this just my imagination?
Garrick, Mobile, AL

RM: I don’t think sports car fans were shocked or put off when A.J. and Dan Gurney won Le Mans or Mario won Sebring and Daytona. And Indy 500 winners and IndyCar champs like Dixie and T.K. were also two of the best road racers in the field with one of the best cars so it’s hardly an upset like Power winning the Daytona 500 would be considered. I think the Rolex revels in the fact it gets some of IndyCar’s best and a NASCAR winner like Jamie Mac to go with many of the top sports car racers. It’s kinda like IROC once a year and it makes people watch or at least care. The fact Kyle Larson was part of that winning team – a strong part, too – only further validates his pedigree.


Q: How pleased was Chevrolet/GM after the Rolex 24 as their Corvette DP teams were beaten by Ganassi’s Ford, driven by FOUR Chevy (NASCAR/IndyCar) drivers?
Greg (Belleville, NJ)

RM: That’s a good question and one I was wondering myself while watching the victory celebration. Imagine what the reaction might be if Chip wins Le Mans for Ford? But if he wins Indy and the Brickyard, all will be forgiven.  

Q: Did you notice what Jamie McMurray said about IndyCar drivers? He was overwhelming in his praise. How quaint! Did you notice he, (unlike many IndyCar fans who persist in calling NASCAR..NASCRAP and their fans “toothless ignorant red necks”), said not one negative thing. Refreshing and shows that drivers have a respect for drivers from a different discipline! Maybe it would be smart for race fans to be just that – race fans who watch and love “racing” in all its fascinating types, and stop trying to downgrade every thing but what they watch. Are you listening IndyCar fans?
Terrible Ted

RM: I sent Ganassi a text message that said McMurray’s interview was one of the classiest I’d ever heard and to please thank him for speaking so eloquently and honestly – especially about Dixon’s abilities. Very refreshing wasn’t it?

Q: To probably no one’s surprise, Kyle Larson performed very well this weekend (to include a long stint at night). Why did the Chipster decide to put Larson on the stock car path instead of the Indy path? Was it a matter of being able to make more money with stock cars, or was it Larson’s wishes?
Kyle Lantz

RM: The night in 2011 that Larson swept the USAC Four Crown Nationals at Eldora, I watched in amazement with Tony Stewart from the infield. “This kid has never been here before and he’s only 19 years old,” I kept raving. After he won the midget and sprint features, Stew said he was going to give the kid a check for $10,000 out of his own pocket if he won the Silver Crown race. I said that was great but why don’t you offer him a contract too because all he wants to be is a World of Outlaws or NASCAR driver and you’ve got teams in both. Tony said he didn’t have any place to put him but I know he kicked himself later for not signing Larson. As far as Ganassi, he needed a youth movement in NASCAR and somebody to keep the sponsors excited – he got one. Having said that, Larson wants to run the Indy 500 and I know Chip gets tired of all the lobbying Dario and I do about it but I think it could happen in 2016.  

Q: I’ve just finished watching the Daytona 24 Hours in which four different classes of cars ran together. Interesting, and no serious problems. So why not run the IndyCar and Indy Lights cars in the same race? Bingo! Full fields, and plenty of passing (though not necessarily for the lead). Lots more for the TV crews to talk about. Interesting in-car camera shots. And a whole other level of conversations for the fans.
Chad R. Larson, Phoenix

RM: I can’t imagine much more passing than there’s been the past three years in IndyCar and blowing past somebody with 300 less horsepower doesn’t really impress me. If IndyCar only had 10 regulars and Lights eight or nine, I guess it could be feasible to try on a road course. But it would be too insane on an oval.


Q: With Aleshin gone, any chance for Justin Wilson at Schmidt Peterson or do they need someone with money?
Dave Nicholls, Whitby, Ontario

RM: As Marshall Pruett wrote a few days ago, that second Schmidt/Peterson seat will be a paid one so we’re all hoping JWil joins Ryan Hunter-Reay at Andretti Autosport because all he’s got is talent and his helmet.

Q: My question is short and sweet this time: what is the likely time frame for when the Honda and Chevy aero kit-equipped cars actually break cover? Now that the designs are submitted, I hope it’ll be fairly soon.
Steve C., Ithaca, NY

RM: According to IndyCar’s Will Phillips, the teams will be able to start testing the aero kits on March 13th – after the season opener at Brazil but before St. Pete on March 29th.

Q: I just don’t get it! Being with Sierra Jackson in November in Davey Hamilton’s King of the Wing West Coast series proves that fans will show up year around! The stands were packed at Madera, Irwindale, and Kern County. The field of cars was almost as big as Indy with 29 starters. Combine the asphalt sprint cars with the Indy cars on the smaller ovals and give the fans a bigger show for their money. If an 800 horsepower, methanol burning beast doesn’t rattle your bones, nothing will! If Simona gets a ride in IndyCar and Sierra were there, it would give fans two female drivers to cheer for. It could bring the “Danica excitement back.”
Don Holmquist

RM: Not sure if Davey has pitched IndyCar about his winged series but it would be a nice addition to an Iowa or Milwaukee – especially Iowa since it’s a three-day show.
[Click here for the story Robin wrote on Sierra Jackson last December.]

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about the top-down promotion of IndyCar. National TV ad buys, Verizon commercials, Firestone commercials etc. What do you think about this: That model is inefficient for the relatively small dollars IndyCar and its sponsors can put behind it.
My thinking: I’m 29, and like most people my age (and I think a much broader age group than that) almost never watches live TV. The NFL is about the only thing anyone watches live. When I watch things online I have an ad-blocker so I never see those ads. When I record shows, I fast forward through the commercials. So when are all the people like me going to see those ads? Unless you completely blanket the airwaves like, say, Budweiser does, the odds of someone catching the commercial are pretty slim. My idea: Go grassroots. Get several crews together to take show cars around the country. Find every parade and festival that will have you. Close off a street and take the car out and blast up and down the road. The snooze-fest that was Pocono on TV last year won’t grab anyone’s attention, but an IndyCar blowing up eardrums on Main St USA sure as hell will. The DW12 may not be the best looking race car ever, but to an 8-year-old I bet they think it looks pretty badass, especially if they just saw it shooting fire and accelerating faster than anything they’ve ever seen. It may seem like small potatoes but the local press and word of mouth it would generate would be significant over time I think.
Chris Beasley, Kirkland, WA

RM: I imagine if IndyCar funded it, something like this could be useful during the winter months to promote races coming to the area. And selling discounted tickets or giving away hats, T-shirts and schedules should be part of it along with driver participation. But, until proven otherwise, television is still the way to a sponsor’s heart.


Q: RACER’s tributes for Super Tex’s 80th birthday linked the infamous video of victory lane at Texas and Mr. Foyt smacking Luyendyk. My question is, who really won that race, Billy Boat or Luyendyk?
Mike Walsh

RM: Arie was clearly the victor to everyone except USAC but A.J. didn’t like it when the two-time Indy winner came into victory lane “mouthin.” [ABOVE – Arie demo-ing Jim Rathmann’s 1960 Indy 500-winning Watson-Offy].

Q: I am in complete agreement with you that ovals should be a one-day event in order to give the fans more bang for the buck. With this being said, why not charge $20 for an all access ticket? You’d probably have 40,000 people at Fontana buying parking, food, beer, merchandise instead of 50,000 empty seats.   
Vincent Martinez, Arcadia, CA

RM: A Saturday afternoon race in late June at Fontana is going to be challenging on a number of fronts so ticket prices might not matter. But I’d rather have 20,000 people at $20 a head than 8,000 at $50 because of the chance to sell more concessions and souvenirs. Maybe MAVTV (the title sponsor again) offers a special discount but, clearly, it’s going to take some creative promotions. And I think Dave Allen of Auto Club Speedway will do whatever he can to make it affordable and appealing. I like $40 for a seat and a pit pass (good for both days).       

Q: Just finished reading Sam Schmidt’s IndyCar 2018 article where he mentioned the target audience is 21-35 year olds making $100K-plus. As a 50-year old (25-year car engineer), I’m shocked, speechless and insulted. Or, maybe just dumb as a box of rocks and should find a more suitable hobby. To keep this from a profanity- laced rant questioning the heritage and mental capacity of the person(s) that came up with that target audience, I’ll just ask the following: How many human bodies of the 300 million in the USA meet the criteria? If you were to multiply that number by the marketing industry standard capture rate of your target audience, then divide by the number of races, how many bodies are in the stands or watching on TV, the typical race?
Phillip Thomas

RM: Whoah there: Sam was saying that’s who sponsors tend to target, but his point was that the net should be much wider. I don’t know how many meet that criteria but I guess the 21-35 crowd would be ideal for replacing all us graybeards and it would be interesting to know the average age of the IndyCar fan who travels to races. If you subtract the Indy 500 from the equation, I’m guessing the average attendance (race day) for the other 16 races would be between 25,000-30,000. It seems to me older fans like the ovals while street circuits and road courses appeal to the younger crowd.


Q: Canadian racing legend Jacques Villeneuve is one of the lead partners in an exciting new development in the Okanagan. A group of enthusiasts is proposing a semi-private club based around a new 5-kilometre circuit designed to meet the requirements for FIA level 2 events, to be built in the Okanagan valley southeast of Oliver, B.C. I realize it’s another “track announcement” but will it be 2017 or 2018 before IndyCar races there? Strikes me that it could be the “Canadian Sonoma” as it is near the wine-growing region of B.C. and an ultra-rich tourist mecca. On the subject of Canadian races, seems to me a “no-brainer” that 3-4 races in Canada (1-2 doubleheaders at that) is a quick and easy add for IndyCar. Why not and where will the new Canadian races be joining the schedule?
Gordon from Dallas

RM: If the track would be built it’s only 15 miles north of the American/Canadian border so a swing to Sonoma would be sensible. There’s also a track supposedly being built in Calgary, and Quebec City was interested a couple of years ago. I’ve always said we could race five times a year in Canada and be well served since those fans really “get” open-wheel racing. But Edmonton started with massive crowds in 2005 [ABOVE – AJ Allmendinger leads RuSPORT teammate Justin Wilson] and couldn’t make it so it’s not a slam dunk that any new Canadian venues will be added.

Q: I’ve thrown around the idea of attending the St. Pete race to start my racing year and wanted to know what the best value is for the weekend. I always go to Mid-Ohio and love having the ability to roam around and watch the weekend from different sections of the track. What do most fans prefer doing, going with a grandstand seat? Is there a lot of freedom to roam around and watch the race from various vantage points?
Alan Bandi, Butler, PA

RM: The majority of people sit on the front straightaway grandstand at St. Pete (there is a big screen across from it) or outside of Turn 1 (the best seat) and Turn 10 because there’s not a lot of room to roam. Barber, Sonoma and Mid-Ohio offer the most roaming space and plenty of good vantage points for fans who like to wander. And the spectator mounds at IMS aren’t bad either.

Q: Loved your reports from the Chili Bowl and great to see Sarah Fisher driving a midget again! Why did IndyCar not promote this? Huge crowd, good TV audience, popular driver! I guess there isn’t racing after Labor Day. How depressing it is to hear that Rico Abreu is going into the K&N NASCAR series. Did anyone in IndyCar even give him a look? In your report you mentioned that Roger Penske asked who he should watch, did anyone grab his interest?
Wally, Eden Prairie, MN
 
RM: Considering she’d never driven a midget on dirt and hadn’t been in a midget or sprinter for 16 years, Sarah did a damn fine job. She got a great ovation after winning the D Main and people still like her. As I’ve written many times, IndyCar should always have a presence at the Chili Bowl because there are 13,000 people there each night who love open wheel but don’t give a flip about IndyCar racing. I hope Sarah takes Josef Newgarden there next year and lets him run. Besides Sarah, Ed Carpenter and Chip, none of the other IndyCar owners have a clue about Rico but he’ll wind up in Ganassi’s program. Haven’t talked to R.P. since then.


Q: Any chance you could do a bench racing segment (Tough Guy series) on Roger McCluskey, the 1973 Champ Car champion (but also Sprint/Stock champion)? I love your segments so far on Herk , Gary B. , Marshman , Pelican Joe . Have you considered publishing your very interesting series of lesser known “behind the scenes” stories of the glory years of Indy racing as a book? Could you consider publishing one of your weekly columns where all of your answers are actually longer than the questions?
Ed Koenig (Indy 500 oldtimer), Sacramento, CA.
P.S. Thanks to you, Marshall and David for keeping us well informed during the DARK PHASE of the year.
 
RM: I’d like to do something on all those badasses like McCluskey [ABOVE at Indy in ’65 running the AAR-run Hallibrand-Ford] as well as pick out certain races to look back on that I can support with photos. No plans for a book. As far as the Mailbag, fans sometimes take longer to get their thoughts across than I do to answer their questions but that’s just my old newspaper training. During the season I’m always appealing to people to try and keep their questions to four or five small paragraphs because we have such a volume but the longer rants have a better chance during the off-season. Thanks for watching.

Q: A few months ago, I commented in the Tech Mailbag and on the IndyCar Facebook page that it would be nice to have all drivers’ sector times available from a race. Last year I was unable to find this information. The ‘Stats’ section of the IndyCar website now has all drivers’ race sector times available in PDF format.  I know a lot of complaints come to your Mailbag, so I wanted to share that the series responded to my request. Thanks IndyCar!
Kyle in Raleigh

RM: Thanks for pointing that out Kyle.

Q: When I wrote a few weeks ago and talked about innovation at Indy, I mentioned Roger Rager and his bus block engine. It seems he has become a cult figure in the Mailbag since then. I know he was a mid-west and Knoxville legend and if you Google him it mentions Indy but not the bus block. Got any stories about him you could pass on to the readers? After all, it is only two years until the next Indy car race so we need something to read about.
Tom in Waco

RM: Just that he was extremely BRAVE in a sprinter and that carried over to his one and only Indy 500 start. To think he qualified 10th in that car and engine combination still ranks as one of the great little guy stories ever at IMS. Hell, he was still racing sprinters a couple years ago so he’s still crazy.


Q: It is my considered opinion that the car owners and drivers need to have a sit-down round table discussion with Mr. Miles, Mr. Walker, Mari Hulman-George, and the three sisters about the future of the Indianapolis 500-mile International Sweepstakes and the Verizon IndyCar Series. There needs to be a good, honest give and take about where the future lies, and what needs to be done to achieve that goal. Everyone who has a vested interest in the series and the “500” needs to have a voice. This is what IndyCar and the Indy 500 really needs instead of all the bantering currently going on. Please feel free to forward this to the appropriate people if you wish.
John M. Miller II, Zionsville, IN
P.S. I will be celebrating my 60th 500 this year since 1951.

RM: Can’t see it happening. Miles reports to the Hulman & Company board but runs the show and doesn’t seem to value much input from owners, drivers or fans. As for the Hulman-George family, their collective voice seems to be getting weaker.  

Q: As a relatively new IndyCar fan (watched the 500 since I was a kid, and have not missed a series broadcast in about seven or eight years now), I have dragged my family off to four races so far. My teenage girls and wife won’t watch a race on TV unless I point out something outrageous, but they really like the live show. We’ve been to Vegas, Auto Club twice and Long Beach. If this makes it into the Mailbag, I would urge your readers to get to Long Beach if they can as that race is a total blast and on Sunday you get to see Stadium Super Trucks, drifters, TUDOR Championship, Indy Lights, Pirelli World Challenge and of course the big boys of IndyCar. Already have our tickets for Grandstand 7 now.
So here’s the deal: I’ve never been to the Indy 500 and was wondering if you could (just for us Mailbag fans) give a few more insider tips. We can’t make it this year, but my family will be there for the 100th running. I will not miss it. I have seen you say that the Vista seats are a bargain and a pretty good view. But, if this may be our only rodeo for a while (we live in Arizona and go to IndyCar races in southern California), what would be the BEST experience for a family of four? By looking at the grandstand map at Indy, I would pick either Grandstand A or B as they are in the classic Turn 1 at Indy, you have a view of the front stretch and the pit exit. Is that about right? Or is Turn 4 better? Also, any insight on how to secure tickets? I think for the 100th, they may be hard to get. Could you tell us Mailbag fans when, historically, tickets become available for the next race?
I know you get asked these kinds of questions a lot and I appreciate any insight you might have. I know there’s a bunch of crusty old farts who read your Mailbag each week and know all this kind of stuff, but there’s still a whole bunch of us “next generation” fans who are hungry for info and would love any insight you can give us early so that we don’t blow it and miss out on what may be the biggest race a lot of us will ever see.
Gary Nelson, Flagstaff, AZ

RM: I still think any seat fairly high in any of the four corners is the best because you can see passing and who is faster, who is gaining, who is fading, etc. There are big screens so you can keep track of pit stops. But A & B are both good places as well, I’d just want to be as high up as possible. I just called the IMS ticket office and they said next year’s tickets are available for renewal on-line (www.IMStix.com ) or at the IMS ticket office at 8 a.m. the day after the race. New customers can also apply at that time but won’t be assigned seats until after the renewal period and upgrade requests.

Q: I was looking for tickets for this year’s 500. I haven’t gone since 2012 because of financial issues and found that the tickets prices have been increased!  I’m dead set on going to the 99th and 100th running so I will pretty much go no matter what the price, but what I just don’t get is if attendance is down, why increase the price when demand is down? The focus should be to get more fans not prevent fans that are on the fence from going; isn’t that basic economics? I hope they spend the extra money advertising, dare I say, during the Super Bowl! Spend some money on promoting IndyCar and the 500 during hockey games, football games or in prime time and, as I’ve said 100 times, there should be commercials, toys, promotions etc. How do you think NASCAR got name recognition?
Tony, Mamaroneck, NY

RM: I believe one of the Boston Consulting Group’s theories was (I’m paraphrasing) to not worry so much about making new fans at Indianapolis but rather gouge the ones you’ve already got. Yes, there are still plenty of empty seats on Race Day and it seems like prices would either stay the same or be lowered in those hard-to-sell sections until it’s a sellout again. Compared to an NBA or NFL game, Indy remains a pretty good bargain. But charging $50 to park in the infield on Race Day is hardly fan- friendly in my mind.  


Q: I’ve been reading RACER’s IndyCar 2018 series with interest. When they are right, they are very right, and when they are wrong, it’s easy to see why IndyCar is in the shape that it is in.
IndyCar needs to define its fans and income sources. Look to the NFL for inspiration. The NFL works hard to increase the fan experience and to fill the stands, but if the stands are empty for the Super Bowl all that would mean is there are 80,000 more people watching the game at home. Their biggest concern is media ratings and the income they get from broadcasting. Ticket sales are nice, but revenue sharing keeps the NFL alive.
IndyCar needs to stop thinking about TV packages and start thinking about broadcasting their sport. TV coverage on ABC and ESPN is good, but if you go much lower than that down the cable channels, you are limited. If every single subscriber to NBCSN watched every single IndyCar race, you will always be a minor sport. Start broadcasting IndyCar as an internet sport. There are companies that provide ratings for internet feeds just like they do for cable and over the air broadcasting. You can keep the traditional broadcasts as a secondary coverage, but internet broadcasts provides you with a worldwide market and you can still sell ads for it. Internet matches the high tech image IndyCar once had.
Broadcast the sport, not just the races. Look at the WWE and their new WWE network. Again, they are not looking for ticket sales for live events. All their live events do is provide inventory for their network and they are using their network to provide a dollar value for years of old inventory. How much old inventory does indyCar have? WWE is providing programs about their performers, groups of performers, about their female performers, workout programs with their performers. There is a lot of potential for IndyCar to do the same.
Sell the series, not just the races. I’m a big fan of the NFL, college football, and IndyCar. I’ve never been to a NFL game, never been to an IndyCar race and have not been to a college football game in years. Lots of reasons, but the main one is that the viewing experience is better at home than in person. I’m the fan you have to get and keep. Make it easy for us to be fans, watch the races and increase the ratings. IndyCar needs to admit that they will never get me to a race. Age, money, location, other factors make that a fact that will not change. Major sports have already admitted that and I watch as many college games on ESPN3 as on traditional TV.
IndyCar as an internet broadcast increases the viewer experience. Live timing and scoring is just a click away. You can place live video cameras in each car and the viewer can decide which ones to watch. Easy to put cameras in the pits. The other change is the schedule. IndyCar clearly needs to start earlier in the year and run later. Fans like the doubleheaders and IndyCar needs more of them. The selection of new or return race venues should become easier if you are looking at them as creating new broadcast properties. Lower the fees IndyCar charges the venues. Let the local promoters have 100 percent of the ticket sales, parking and concessions. IndyCar’s money should come from the internet broadcasts and ad sales. The teams get the prize money and revenue sharing.
Long vent, sorry.
John Womack

RM: Bernie always says he doesn’t care if anybody comes to an F1 race because his television package and audience are the largest. He’s not lying either. But, right now IndyCar must have television and if NBC were allowed to carry a few races to cross-promote with NBCSN it would be a good package with ABC. Obviously, having every race on a national network is ideal but not even NASCAR has that and FOX and CBS aren’t knocking down IndyCar’s door. The key for IndyCar will be what happens when the current NBCSN deal expires. Having said all that, your idea about making IndyCar an internet vehicle is interesting and it’s something Kevin Kalkhoven took a serious look at with Champ Car after the disaster on SPIKE. Since everyone lives on an iPad or computer or tablet, it makes sense you might attract more viewers than with conventional TV in a few years. The auxiliary programming is something that’s needed 12 months a year to try and familiarize people with IndyCar drivers or at least keep IndyCar on the map during a six-month layoff. Again, the ideal spot is probably a show on ESPN2 or FOX Sports1 or NBC Sports Saturday during the winter months, but it’s all about supply and demand and there’s not much demand for IndyCar so it has to be purchased. Would IndyCar be better served with just a channel on YouTube? Possibly. When you see how many hits a Ken Block video gets, you wonder if IndyCar just shouldn’t shove everything except the Indy 500 and month of May on the internet. I’m not sure sponsors are ready to head down that path just yet and they likely will be the key. But you have presented an interesting scenario that may need to be considered sooner rather than later.

Note: For those with more IndyCar 2018 ideas, please send to IndyCar2018@racer.com       

[If you want to know what the editor’s watching on YouTube in the picture above, click here…]

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Robin Miller flunked out of college in 1968 but got a lifetime break when he was 18 by joining The Indianapolis Star and has been covering IndyCar racing ever since for various publications including RACER, Car&Driver, Autoweek, MotorSport, Autosport and Sports Illustrated. He also worked on ESPN’s RPM2Night from 1999-2003 before joining SPEED and WIND TUNNEL from 2004 to 2013. He was fired as free help at Indy by his racing hero Jim Hurtubise, bought his first racecar from Andy Granatelli, was bitch-slapped by A.J. Foyt for questioning Super Tex’s straightaway speeds and spent eight years and all his money racing USAC midgets from 1975-’82. Today Miller covers IndyCar and open-wheel for RACER.com where his Mailbag is published 52 weeks a year in addition to commentaries, news stories and videos.   

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