Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 18, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Photo by Richard Dole / LAT Images

Q: Is there any interest in putting Pipo Derani in an IndyCar? Ever since the first time I saw him race in the Rolex Daytona 24, I thought “this kid has unbelievable talent”. And is there ever any discussion about bringing back shows like Thursday Night Thunder or Saturday Night Lightning featuring karts, midgets and sprints? I really miss those!

Scott Karst, Madison, Indiana

RM: Derani has had success at Daytona and Sebring (overall winner in both) and won a couple of British F3 races at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch in 2012. He also finished sixth at the Macau Grand Prix. So I imagine if he’s so inclined and can raise the money he can certainly come to Indianapolis some day.

Q: I watched your “tribute” to Dan Gurney before the Long Beach race. Very insulting to try to compare Josef Newgarden to someone like Gurney, who accomplished so much during his life. Newgarden had little-to-no success in Europe, and never raced GP2 much less F1, and never even won a race in GP3. Gurney was a legend, and trying to put Newgarden in the same category is just asinine.

E. Barnett

RM: I think maybe you should watch it again. I made it very clear there would NEVER be another Dan Gurney, and the comparison to Newgarden was in the form of becoming a fan favorite in America, which he could be with his talent and personality.

Q: A quick note to say thank you again, for the stories about Dan Gurney in the June 2018 edition of RACER magazine, The Heroes Issue. Wonderful!

Rick Koressel, Evansville, IN.

RM: Thanks Rick, tell your friends we’ve got 1993 prices for subscriptions – only $23.97 for the whole year.

Q: Longtime reader of yours and hardcore IndyCar fan for roughly 25 years thanks to my Dad introducing me to it early. While overall I am happy with the direction of the series, it pains me to see the downfall of ovals. Personally, the loss of the Milwaukee Mile hurts (but thankfully Road America is back). Now times change but I do believe IndyCar can change with it.

Street races appear to produce the best turnouts (not counting Indy of course) for a number of reasons. First off street races almost advertise themselves. Everybody in and around the city holding a street race will see the construction for the temporary circuit. Ovals are always there, and if you are not promoting it, nobody has a clue IndyCar or anyone is there. Also, street races produce a festival atmosphere where you don’t have to always be glued to a seat.

Outside of the need for more promotion, I believe making oval races feel more like a street and festival atmosphere would help. I know Andretti somewhat tried that in Milwaukee, but it was not done right. We don’t want carnival rides. Each oval location would change some of the specifics, but for a place like Milwaukee, I don’t understand why you couldn’t get the breweries and microbreweries involved and set up temporary bars and stands. Also, better food, WiFi, real spectator mounds in the infields (all turns and back straightaway), local music, more historical cars on display and shopping. Bring a street-like atmosphere to the oval, and if you are too cheap to advertise, cross-promote.

I personally don’t need anything more than IndyCars, a radio and my phone (for live telemetry, but I could live without it), but don’t you think it’s time to modernize the oval and try to get families out to the track? Outside of IMS, there usually is nothing to do but sit and watch: fine for a lot of hardcore fans, but we need new ones. What are your thoughts?

Kyle P. from Milwaukee

RM: My thoughts are that ovals are a dying breed because people are no longer willing to come sit around for hours waiting on one race (or maybe two), and there is little for them to do in between. Long Beach is the perfect example. From 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. there is always something on track, and there are another 10,000 people milling around the Expo Center looking at all the cars and exhibits. Most ovals can’t offer that, but Gateway is trying to with vintage cars, support races, enhanced concessions and more bells and whistles. Promotion and marketing are also key but IndyCar’s ovals don’t get much of either.

Q: At a place like Phoenix, which is trying to re-establish itself in the marketplace, why wouldn’t they give out thousands of free tickets and earn money on concessions and parking and give it the look of a successful event? The appeal of an event can be enhanced by the appearance that demand is greater than it is.

Vincent Martinez, San Gabriel, CA

RM: In CART’s heydays when Honda, Toyota and Marlboro gave away freebies to customers, the tickets still had to be bought through the promoter/track, so if IndyCar is renting Phoenix or co-promoting it then who is going to pay? And if 7,500 people buy tickets and then find out 7,500 people got free ones two months later, you think they’re ever coming back? Freebies always sound like a simple solution, but they’re not.