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: One common theme from the “IndyCar 2018” articles and follow-up discussions is that much more money is needed in the sport. So I thought it was very positive to see SPM bring a new sponsor in Arrow to the series. Do you guys have the story as to how this came about: how did their interest develop? How long did it take to close the deal? Were low TV ratings and on-track attendance significant issues that SPM had to overcome? And while some internet and tech companies like HP and Angie’s List have been involved, It makes me wonder why there aren’t many more technology sponsors, like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, etc. in IndyCar?
Finally, I’d like to echo the other readers in saying that your “fireside chat” videos are fantastic. The stories and people are incredible, especially because you bring an insider’s perspective. At some point, you should consider covering some of the iconic car owners, chief mechanics, engine builders (like Jim Travers and Frank Coon of Traco), and others. But four-five minutes is way too short: any chance RACER will develop this into a half-hour show for TV?
Lee Robie, Cincinnati, Ohio
RM: Arrow Electronics of Denver made it possible for Sam Schmidt to run fast laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May in a specially-modified 2014 Corvette so that’s how their interest started. Not sure how long it took to close the deal but Arrow connects technology developers with leading-edge suppliers and has a “Five Years Out Program” (James Hinchcliffe will carry No. 5) so IndyCar is appealing to them, regardless of TV ratings. But all those other companies you mentioned are likely inundated with sponsor requests from all over the world and probably want marquee names. Glad you like the series and, yes, we’ll do owners eventually as well as great races or drives, thanks for watching. No plans for a TV show but if you’d like to sponsor one…..
Q: How in the age of Twitter and Facebook has Honda kept its teams from leaking out images of the received aero packages? Regarding Chevy’s aero, I admit I was hoping for a something more revolutionary, but it still looks much better than current F1 cars. And for all the negative remarks Chevy received from the IndyCar bloggers, these same people would complain about receiving $1 million in gold because it’s too heavy. St. Pete can’t get here quick enough!
Zack, Alpharetta, Ga.
RM: I don’t know but maybe only having one team test (Andretti) helped keep things under wraps. Honda unveiled its kit Tuesday and it’s certainly different looking and I kinda liked it.
Q: As I start to thaw out from the “frozen tundra” of southeast Illinois, IndyCar is slowly coming out for 2015. My question is, what is the projected lineup for this season? No comments or slamming someone just a single question. Hope to run into you at Indy. Enjoy reading your “mailbag.”
Ken Truitt, Robinson, Ill.
RM: Thanks Ken. Well, here goes: Team Penske (Power, Montoya, Castroneves, Pagenaud), Ganassi (Dixon, Kanaan, Kimball, Karam), Andretti (Hunter-Reay, Munoz, Andretti, deSilvestro), SPM (Hinchcliffe, Jakes), Foyt (Hawksworth, Sato), CFH (Carpenter, Newgarden, Fillipi), KVSH (Bourdais, Coletti), RLL (Rahal), Herta (Chavez), Coyne (TBD).
Q: Is it just me or has anyone else been having a problem with the Ed Carpenter approach to what is an IndyCar team? Through its long history, what has distinguished IndyCar drivers from all other racers is the great diversity of skill necessary to perform at radically diverse tracks. Being good at ovals, road courses and street courses defines the best IndyCar drivers. I have no problem with substitute drivers filling in for a regular driver due to injury or other temporary reason, but the concept of having an oval specialist and a road/street specialist sharing the same car flies in the face of the whole point of IndyCar. It fries me when I see Carpenter win an oval race against drivers who are actually going for the championship.
Dale Murray, Mount Joy, Pa.
RM: I think you’re in the minority, Dale, because most of us applauded Ed for being mature/smart enough to step aside and put a road racer in while he concentrated on ovals (and they won three times in 2014). Ed’s one of the best on the ovals and easily one of the most popular drivers at the Speedway so I think people pull extra hard for him.
Q: There appears to be a disconnect between IndyCar’s fans and owners with IMS ownership, and Hulman & Company. No clear-cut direction. I understand the sport just “reunited” but do we feel this is the correct action? Would a split of all current teams into its own series, under its own ownership group and marketing brand be a better move? Let IMS have the “500” and focus on that. Can the IndyCar teams not join FIA? The series can be USA-based, but compete worldwide. With the decline of F1, it gives the current owners of the Indy teams a prime opportunity to compete for worldwide fans, sponsorship, and success. Again I understand the brand is rebuilding, but under the current umbrella it does not, or ever, set for future success. Your views?
Brent Logero, Denver, Colo.
RM: Well, you just described CART and IMS from 1982-’96. And while CART made Bernie nervous in the 1990s with its depth, racing, crowds, worldwide interest and resources, the owners eventually killed it off with greed and stupidity. And, of course, a big assist from Tony George. Starting another series in this economy, with the lack of interest all around, would seem to be suicidal. The “brand” has been rebuilding since 2008 but nobody has noticed. I understand your logic that it’s not going anywhere under the current management but without the Hulman/George handout (Leader’s Circle) we’d have 10 cars. And even though F1 appears lost, it still commands/generates big bucks because of its massive TV audience.
Q: Since the season is way too short, how about IndyCar taping and showing some of the preseason aero kit testing, and whatever other tests now, on any time whatsoever, on any channel whatsoever, just to get the exposure? Bernie’s not doing it, and some of us open-wheel fans are in need of a fix.
Peter Carey San Bruno, Calif.
RM: If IndyCar had a weekly show on NBCSN it would be perfect but just throwing a 30-minute show on a random cable channel one time isn’t going to generate much attention. Marshall Pruett and I will be doing videos Monday and Tuesday, so check out RACER.com each night for the highlights and interviews and Marshall will also shoot action of the aero kits on track.
Q: There has been a lot of talk in the mailbag over the last couple years about “why doesn’t IndyCar race here….why doesn’t IndyCar race there.” One of the tracks in question is Laguna Seca. I have been to four IndyCar races there, including the “Arrivederci Mario” race in 1994, and had a wonderful time each year. But, I recently watched the 1988 CART race at Laguna Seca on YouTube and noticed the lack of on-track passing. I never really noticed it before, but it got me wondering if it was fair to compare the cars of 27 years ago to the cars of today? Do you think the new aero kits would make a difference on tracks like Laguna Seca? Would love to see IndyCars return to that track, but probably would not be worthwhile if the track is not conducive to passing.
I love the Monterey area and the track is such an icon but how realistic is it to think IndyCar would return? We need tracks that would present the best show for the fans in attendance, as well at the ones watching on TV. In your opinion, what is the best track to showcase the best of what IndyCar has to offer? Thanks for all of your videos and being the best source on IndyCar info for so many years! See you at Long Beach!
Jack, Snohomish, Wash.
RM: Besides Alex Zanardi’s pass for the ages in 1996, Laguna was mostly a very well-attended parade (Max Papis may have won the 2001 CART race from the back without ever passing a car thanks to pit strategy) that saw crowds dwindle away before Champ Car’s last race in 2004. But, as we’ve seen the past two years, the DW12 Dallara might be able to put on a good show in a barrel (the street courses were the best races of 2014 other than Indianapolis and Iowa) yet Sonoma and Laguna both suffer from being beautiful layouts that weren’t built for wide, fast, ground-hugging Indy cars. I imagine if Sonoma ever bailed, Laguna could be added but not sure they could both survive on the same schedule.
Q: Is there any hope at all for a return of IndyCar to Houston? The more I read and listen to IndyCar-related radio shows, the less hope I have. I mean I’m going to New Orleans this year and am excited about it. But it’s just not the same as having a race in your own backyard.
Kevin from Houston
RM: I think if Mike Lanigan could get a favorable date and bring back Shell, he’s got a great layout at Ellington Field that would bring back memories of Cleveland.
Q: Now that Kurt Busch is not facing any charges, can IndyCar jump in now and get Kurt to drive Michael Andretti’s fourth Indy 500 entry for the 2015 season since NASCAR and Chevrolet fumbled and had to react to quick about the whole deal? Kurt can jump right into Andretti’s fourth entry, Honda engines, popular American driver, and oh yeah, Kurt ran sixth last year at Indy for Andretti. This would be the boost IndyCar needs!
Andy, St. Mary’s, Ohio
RM: From Michael Andretti: “Kurt did a fantastic job in the car for us in 2014. We were impressed by his performance in his first-ever Indy 500. However, we have no plans to run Kurt in 2015.”
Q: Do you think NASCAR jumped the gun in suspending Kurt Busch now that no criminal charges have been filed? I hope NASCAR does the right thing and reinstates him as soon as possible. Yes, Kurt is a volatile character but that girlfriend sounded a bit crazy, too. Can’t wait to see the IndyCars test the new aero kits. It might be interesting to see which bit teams leave off. Also, are there regulations around using road course pieces on ovals or using oval pieces on road courses?
RM: As we noted a couple weeks ago, a magistrate in civil court did rule that he thought, based on the testimonies, there had been some domestic violence and issued a protective order. Because of NASCAR’s conduct code and because Kurt Busch agreed to it when he became a driver, it legally had to suspend him. That came from a lawyer. So now Busch is in the process of complying to NASCAR’s “treatment” program so he can re-instated (no criminal charges will be filed). I don’t think they’ll be a lot of mixing and matching with the two kits. Something about aerodynamics.
Q: Forget a winter series for IndyCars. Instead, have a winter series for IndyCar drivers in Mazda Indy Lights. This would help promote the real stars, the drivers, and provide some additional income for Indy Lights teams. It might encourage some of the IndyCar teams to run teams in Indy Lights to help promote and bring on up-and-coming young American drivers. It would certainly promote Mazda.
You could build it around three-car teams, each with a mix of an Indy/Car’s star driver (who would be under contract to IndyCar to take part getting only reasonable expenses), a promising young American driver and a local star. Teams meeting this criteria would get much of their expenses covered funded by local promotors and series sponsors.
John Peterson, Plymouth, Minn.
P.S. Enjoy your column although I am an F1 fan who can’t get into IndyCar racing even though it is so close. The cars seem so cumbersome compared to F1 due to the added weight. My apologies, but I have tried.
RM: I think your idea has a lot more merit than starting a new series and, as you point out, could shed some positive light on the feeder system as well as some established drivers. Take Will Power and Scott Dixon Down Under and let them pair up with local kids/stars and a promoter might have a winner.
Q: Awesome suggestion from Mark in Discovery Bay, Calif., regarding the naming of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series. Formula 1 has GP2 and GP3 as its ladder and MotoGP has Moto2 and Moto3. That’s easy to understand and I’d go one step further with the IndyCar ladder and drop the names all together. The ladder would consist of IndyCar, IC2, IC3, and IC4. After all, it’s IndyCar that should be the focus of each series.
John, Brownsburg, Ind.
RM: I like the fact Indy Lights has equity, history and promotes Indy so I wouldn’t change it. I guess re-branding F2000 and Mazda has some merit, although it seems pretty far down the pecking order in terms of importance.
Q: The Indy 500, in my opinion, is the biggest event on the planet for motorsports. The announcers that ABC throws out there to broadcast the event to the public are terrible. Nice guys, but terrible! They bring little to no energy to the event and frankly could be mistaken for people late catching a plane. I go every year in person, so I do not watch it live on TV, although I do watch the recording and often go to YouTube to catch certain parts later throughout the year.
Last year the call by Allen Bestwick, Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever as Helio and Ryan Hunter-Reay were battling out the last six laps was god-awful (were they watching the same race as I was?). Could you imagine how different it would be if Leigh Diffey was making that call? I know this is not a question you can help with, but can you at least post this because I know there are others who read this, than can help. Seriously, if IndyCar is serious about TV ratings for their biggest event, this has to be looked at.
Kevin Kenefick, Kansas City, Mo.
RM: I thought Bestwick brought a refreshing perspective and he’s not as excitable as Leigh so you always hope the analysts bring the energy in a situation like RHR’s awesome grass pass of HCN in Turn 3. Cheever and Goodyear have plenty of knowledge they just don’t seem to have any chemistry or the ability to convey the action with much emotion. IndyCar can make suggestions but ABC controls the announcers’ lineup.
Q: We made it to March and at least have open-wheel racing with F1 this weekend. I am already NASCAR-ed out. I thought that Bruce Delahorne had some good ideas in his IndyCar 2018 article. I personally would hate to lose the NBCSN broadcasts, as I don’t think ABC gives a toss about IndyCar beyond the month of May. Yes, maybe the pre-race shows could be more concise, but I especially like the driver interviews. Robin, can I be one of a few who truly enjoy your grid runs? I don’t think they are dreadful at all. I remember the first one you did with Dan Wheldon in 2011. What fun! It’s never knowing who you will find and what they will say that keeps it interesting. I also enjoyed your talk with Mr. Foyt last year as you looked over some old racing photos and I hope we get more that in 2015. We need more of this IMHO. Thank goodness St. Pete’s is in sight!
Deb Schaeffer, Los Angeles
RM: Well, I’m no Michael Waltrip but I try to make the Grid Run fun and it will never be as good as it was with Wheldon because he made it extra lively and it had some zip with two of us. Having said that, we have to work around the national anthem and driver intros, so it’s always sketchy and sometimes it’s just not worth it. But my director tries to work me in whenever possible and that’s always appreciated at my age.
Q: My question concerns this continued discussion about breaking the track record for the 100th Indianapolis 500. While I used to love going to qualifications and seeing the track record broken year after year, have any of the masterminds at 16th and Georgetown given any thought to the safety issues? Yes, the cars are much safer than back in the ’70’s (ABOVE: Mark Donohue’s 1972 winning Penske McLaren), ’80s and ’90s when most of the records were set and the walls now have the SAFER barriers, but speed is still speed especially in the corners. I can’t see that the stands will be packed for this speed fest; those days are over. Sounds like a PR stunt to me. If you do break the record without hurting anyone, it would be a win. However, should someone get hurt the opposite could happen.
On another note, since the new “speedway” aero kit has not been shown yet, will any of the teams be able to test these prior to hitting the Speedway in May or will that be the first time? Keep up the great job on the mailbag, also love the videos!
James M. Petro
RM: The daily build-up in speeds toward Pole Day was part of the annual attraction (along with the fact people couldn’t buy race tickets) of qualifying and you are correct, breaking the track record isn’t going to bring back those crowds. But it could help raise the interest level and I damn sure think it’s more newsworthy than which band is playing on Carb Day. Yes, there will be a special test day for the speedway kits in early May.
Q: A suggestion on how to integrate technology and engage fans in the stands: Each car fitted with a flexible OLED screen large enough to display the cars’ real-time race position. The cars themselves would become the leaderboard. Races, especially ovals with long green periods, would be much easier for fans to follow. I imagine the screen to be very flat and able to contour to the body of the car. Perhaps place on the nose where the numbers have been traditionally located.
Currently fans have to look for the cars to come around, check the pylon, hope they know the car numbers by heart, or have a printed car/driver sheet in their laps (usually only have the time & inclination to keep track of the leaders). By the time all this is done, the cars are long gone. It would be much easier to keep track of the chase pack. A pass in the pack is just as exciting as a pass for the lead, provided you know the cars battling for the position. If the screens were large enough, or another screen placed elsewhere, lap times, speed and/or time back from the leader could be displayed (perhaps all of these on a rotating basis). Information that is available on the television for those watching at home available to the spectators in the stands without a separate device, app, pen and paper.
Benefits? Cool factor. Integrated technology that relates to your title sponsor. Opening for Samsung, or another hardware partner to come aboard. Something to differentiate IndyCar from every other racing entity.
Brad, Roanoke, Ind.
RM: Very interesting concept Brad and I sent your idea to Will Phillips of IndyCar to get his opinion. Between this and Jeremy Dale’s 2018 suggestion about the fans running the “23rd” car online, it seems inevitable that IndyCar will embrace some new concept to attract new interest or hold the attention of current or younger fans.
Q: When we all waited to see the Indy 500 on tape delay on ABC, yes the stands were packed for qualifying and all the rest. Race day was a huge event. But now the entire event is live on TV. It simply isn’t plausible that such a live-covered event will ever be as well attended as its pre-TV days. So now what? Well, the spec car approach seemingly demonstrates that if you’re a big team your “spec car” will beat the lesser teams’ “spec car” all the time. And this is a surprise? The Indy 500 champ is all but unrecognizable but to hardcore race fans.
You want people to know who the drivers are? Promote the drivers. Have the drivers do what no less than Sam Posey and David Hobbs pulled off years ago to promote the old Formula 5000 series when they barnstormed across the nation hitting radio stations or local TV outlets. Today talk radio, local TV stations, internet sites, and any number of regional/local events are available. A generic IndyCar prop would also be nice to show off. PLEASE for a few seconds after a race let the guy be seen-bareheaded – no sunglasses – expressing just a genuine word or so, then you can immediately go to cover me in sponsorship land.
Auto racing isn’t the NFL. And it sure as hell doesn’t have to understand the phone-tied younger set. Auto racing needs to be about auto racing. Close, interesting auto racing. You want U.S. drivers, have racing scouts check out drivers no matter what the series and have IndyCar promote a few tryout sessions in front of owner reps. Should these owners find an interesting character at these tryouts find some means (bonus team points to said teams or something) to encourage at least three odd races for the new folks. AT A TRACK OR VENUE WHERE THEY WILL BE ADVERTISED HOMETOWN/REGIONAL HEROES. Understand that auto racing is an acquired taste. That auto racing can survive by beating NHL hockey or matching NBA regular season TV ratings while being peppered with a few big TV races. Make going to a race a great sporting deal with airways filled with local promotion to fill seats. A big concert can be seen on TV/internet, the music can be listened to a number of ways…but you only see a Beyonce’ or an Arrowsmith live by GOING TO THE EVENT!
Morris Wynn, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
RM: I like the idea of a tryout show on television (NASCAR did it a few years ago and it was entertaining as hell) and a media barnstorming tour with drivers. Kevin Kalkhoven flew Katherine Legge, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson around the country one winter to promote Champ Car races and generated newspaper stories and television interviews in cities where there were races. IndyCar has six months of down time so this should be a no-brainer whether it’s a bus tour in the Midwest or an air trip from Florida to California. If I were a sponsor, I’d demand my driver took off his shades during any interview. But as for big teams dominating the spec cars, Ed Carpenter Racing won as many races (3) as Ganassi and Andretti.
Q: For years I have been playing an online IndyCar game called Pick12, There is no entry fee and no prizes except bragging rights. Each week you predict, or guess, the top finishers in the next IndyCar race. There is also a F1 version. You enter at https://www.speedpick.com/IRL. You might want to play and it might be worth a mention in the mailbag. It’s a good way to build interest in the series.
RM: Thanks for the heads-up John but, if you can’t lose money, I’m not that interested.
Q: I have been coming to the Indy 500 every year since I was three, and for the past 7-8 years my father and I have been attending the Night Before the 500 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The turnout had been amazing every year with an awesome night of racing; until last year. Last year there were maybe 12 midgets in the feature race, and I could have told you the winner well before they were pushed off. What happened to the race last year?
Looking ahead to this year’s Month of May we plan on coming up that Saturday afternoon like we always do, but where should we head that night? Should we go back to IRP and watch the Silver Crown cars run or should we head to Anderson and watch the Little 500? Last year was such a buzzkill and don’t want to have that same experience again. I need my race before the RACE to get my blood pumping! Let me know what your suggestions are for that night, other than staggering around Georgetown with the inebriated people.
Jeremy, Louisville, Ky.
RM: Sadly, I think only eight cars took the green flag and pavement racing in USAC is dying. But there could be hope because Davey Hamilton was just named USAC executive director and Andy Hillenburg is trying to rescue pavement racing in the Silver Crown division. Can’t tell you what May will look like at Lucas Oil (IRP) but if you’ve never seen the Little 500, you need to – 33 sprint cars on a quarter-mile.
Q: I’ve been attending the Indy 500 since 1980. I just don’t know if I can handle a roundabout at 16th & Georgetown. For old time’s sake, I would like to request that the Mears Gang trailer be placed in the middle of the circle. PLEASE!
Ed Johnson, Elkhart, Ind.
RM: Sorry, no room for racing merchandise. But you can buy a Jane’s Addiction tattoo for only $50 – same price to park in the infield.
Q: Love your Mailbag, read it every week, and I’m always intrigued by the guys who get overlooked by the history buffs, but who actually had some good results. One of these was Bill Alsup, who I’m amazed to see finished second in the CART championship back in 1981 – ahead of everyone except Mears. And Pancho Carter, only one win but took pole for Indy one year. What are their backgrounds? Did you rate them?
RM: Alsup was a very interesting character who didn’t start his IndyCar career until 1979 when he was 40 years old. In 1981, he campaigned his own car but also got hooked up with Roger Penske and ran RP’s PC-7 in seven of his 10 starts (ABOVE: Alsup after qualifying seventh at Indy with a Team Penske PC9B, IMS archive photo). Alsup parlayed two thirds, two fourths and two fifths to take second in the CART standings – and didn’t compete in the first race at Milwaukee. Considering his late start and lack of oval experience, the personable native of Honolulu did a damn fine job during his six seasons.
Pancho (good timing: I did a tough guy video of him that’s currently playing here at RACER.com) was the oldest son of former driver Duane Carter and the best all-around sprint car driver I ever saw. He was Rookie of the Year at Indy in 1974 and amassed 70 USAC victories (midgets, sprints, dirt cars) and four USAC championships. He also overcame a devastating injury while testing an Indy car in 1977 and made a great comeback – winning the Michigan 500 in 1981 and Indy 500 pole in 1985 along with the ’78 USAC Silver Crown title.
Q: Since there’s no real racing going on now just wondering if you’re a food guy or just burgers & fries? Can you highlight some restaurants on the circuit, past & present? Also, how about discussing Vogler or Hewitt on your tough guy series? Watch it every week.
Jeff B., Joliet, Ill.
RM: I’m not a good person to ask about food unless it’s the In & Out burger. I know the brats and fried potatoes at Elkhart Lake were always popular and the friets (french fries) at Toronto are tasty (but without the gravy). Those two guys are on my list, thanks for watching.
Q: Thank you for the video series about the tough guys of open-wheel racing. I have especially liked hearing about the lesser known racers like Mel Kenyon, Lee Kunzman and Jim McElreath. (I certainly knew of them, but I didn’t know some of the stories you have told.) Please continue your video series. Hell, I’ll come by and hold the video camera if Marshall Pruett gets tired of doing it.
I have some suggestions for more stories: Jimmy Caruthers. I think he would have eventually won Indy. I’m guessing you raced against him and know the back story far better than anyone. Gordon Johncock: My favorite driver when I was growing up. From what I’ve read, his bravery was second to none. Pick another old-timer like Don Branson. That was a great story. Maybe, Jimmy Bryan? George Follmer? Cale Yarborough: from what I’ve read, he was one of the all time tough guys of NASCAR. I still remember being at the Indy 500 in 1970 and seeing him coming around at the very back of the field and thinking, “I know he’s much better than this.” Time certainly proved this was true. Dick Simon: the story, from the early 1970s when he kept going despite radiator-induced burns, I think it was at Phoenix. I think he passed out after stopping in the pits once the race ended. Buddy Lazier in 1996, but maybe that should be told in 2016. How many times, in 100 years, has the winner been on crutches? That was true grit when it comes to racing – just like the Lee Kunzman story you told – I’ll never forget it.
That’s one of the reasons I admire these men – they just will not quit. Again, thanks – you’ve made open-wheel racing tremendous fun for me for literally decades.
RM: Thank you for watching them, Mark. What started out as an idea to pass away a few winter months has blossomed into a fun series that fans seem to enjoy. It’s interesting because you can be a tough guy or a good guy, or both, and I think we’re going to incorporate classic races, tracks, cars and owners into these videos.
I’m only 65 so I figure I won’t run out of subjects until I’m about 80.
Q: Think of this: the Daytona 500 drew 13,100,000 viewers and the race sucked. IndyCar does not have that many viewers if you leave out the Indy 500. So getting a new TV contract is unlikely, and getting new sponsors very difficult.
Need I list all the things that have been tried, and failed to increase attendance and TV audiences? Great racing (68 passes by 14 drivers for lead, paying $1,000,000 to 20+ teams for appearing, going to new venues only to see them fail (Baltimore, Even when a supposed fan favorite wins…attendance and TV declined (TK under yellow), raising prices for everything, and adding a new race and a concert, Getting Verizon who was supposed to promote IndyCar, and cutting the season so as not to compete with the NFL, adding overseas racing venues (how did that work out?) and changing how the season ends. That is just a few!!
Tell me one car in the last 17 years that you’d love to see? Say Novi, Roadster, Lay-down, Green #92, Turbine, or Purple Maserati and every fan knows at least about them….the cars since 1998? So isn’t it time to change the one thing that has remained the same? “SPEC” cars. Throw the current cars out in 2018. I suggest a new formula for the “500”….no wings, flat bottoms, any engine based upon a stock block, and engines limited to 900hp, no carbon fiber, and an enforced cost limit ($1,000,000 per car). Spin off the IndyCar/IRL, stop paying the $1,000,000…use the money to pay $10,000,000 to win and $500,000 to start. If the series cannot exist without the $20,000,000 IT IS NOT A VIABLE BUSINESS, and it needs to either become profitable or it needs to go bankrupt. I truly believe that if the cars that run at Indy are interesting there will be other venues that will want them to run and a new series will arise out of the ashes.
RM: Of course the last memorable cars at Indianapolis were in 1995 and I’ll grant you the IMS museum wouldn’t sell 50 tickets a year to look at the IRL/IndyCar models since 1996. But, repeat after me, NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE.
Q: Only one more month, and geez it’s only been what, seven since the last IndyCar race? There should have been a race the day before the Super Bowl on a modified oval somewhere in the South or Southwest. Indian Casinos would be perfect partners for such an event (Google or Microsoft campus?). Then at least one event in February in South America or Mexico. Boston Insulting Group might just be the death of IndyCar, what a sad joke they are. Sponsors need a lot more bang for the buck than they are getting and the most obvious is schedule, they need to be able to spread their $$$ around a MUCH longer season, simple.
Other thoughts: let anybody who can sell them, build aero kits and any other part of the cars other than tub, as long as the parts meet IndyCar safety standards. Open the rule book so that stock blocks (turbo or non turbo) can have a fair shot, then lets see how many car makers start to get involved. I think its good that any aero kit builder has to make his approved kit available to those who want them and then teams should be able to tweak on their cars shape as they see fit, again as long as it’s approved safety wise. Go back and watch the Indy 500 on YouTube from 1979-’83 or 1990-’95 and that is what you will see, and because guys were able to tweak on older chassis and do their own aero tricks, you would see older cars from smaller-budgeted teams run real fast and that’s why they didn’t struggle to fill the field in those days. That was real Indy 500 racing!
Tony, Victorville, Calif.
RM: I understand the Boston Consulting Group has proposed a plan to shorten the 2016 IndyCar season to six weeks because they fear going against The Masters, Indiana/Kentucky basketball all-star game, U.S. Open, midsummer Figure 8 classic at The Speedrome, baseball All-Star game, NASCAR tire test at IMS, Indiana Sprint Week, Knoxville Nationals, Colts pre-season camp, tryouts for the PaceMates and the chance of rain in late August.