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 Anthony Kent/LAT

Q: I really enjoyed the race at Long Beach, though Rossi was on another planet. Any way I heard that NBC was going to help IndyCar with the race scheduling – will it include the increase number of races from 17 to 20, and ending the season in October instead of September? Plus, will NBC help IndyCar find new racing venues or renew venues like, Cleveland [above], Montreal, Mexico, Austin, Virginia International Raceway road course and maybe a return to Watkins Glen?

Alistair Fannell

RM: I imagine NBC can make suggestions on dates/times of races to coordinate with its massive sports schedule, but can’t imagine it will have any input on adding races or where to go racing. That’s IndyCar’s call.

Q: After reading your recent article about Phoenix, I sat thinking about the subject. I do not believe you can compare today and yesterday at any track. Like it or not ,the driver demographics have radically changed from the 80s/90s. In those years, 90-plus percent of the drivers were from North America, with the vast majority of those from the U.S. Today, 36 drivers are listed on the IndyCar website with 15 from North America, and they are not all active. What would that list look like if Roger and Chip hired nothing but North Americans?

I do not know about others but when I go to a race I have to have a point of interest; that is, a driver that I follow. I would expect others are like me. That following used to start at the small town/bullring tracks. I do not know where it starts today. The next point is the cars. In the 80/90s we saw a lot of car/engine diversity, not so today. In open-wheel we see a lot of spec series. I could make a case that that applies even to Formula 1, and it surely applies to NASCAR.

Tightened rules packages have squeezed initiative right out of the toolbox. If I attend a race today, am I ever surprised about any team’s package? Even at Indy, the only surprise is what the rules makers might change to ensure everyone gets a participation trophy.

Finally, a point that applies to virtually every series. The race that I see and the race the driver sees is drastically different. How many of them have ever bought a ticket and sat through several hours of follow-the-leader? I have seen post-race interviews with drivers exclaiming what a great race it was, while those in the grandstand have fallen asleep. Yes, at 150-200 mph I am working my butt off and having a great time. In the stands, I just went to get another beer! I do not think that some of them have a clue.

Chuck & Carol Genrich

RM: CART was lucky enough to have American heroes like Andretti, Unser, Sullivan, Rahal and Mears at the same time Emmo, Tracy, Mansell, Villenueve, Zanardi and Montoya were filling the grandstands. Rivalries use to sell tickets but not sure we’ve got any right now. Maybe Wickens and Rossi develops, or Newgarden and Pagenaud. As for drivers saying it was a great race, that’s just PR speak, but most of the time it’s usually BEFORE the green flag.

Q: I drove from Vancouver to Phoenix to watch that race, and I had a great time and got exceptional bang for the buck. For only $55 I got to see an entertaining USAC event, a parade of some classic vintage vehicles, an IndyCar race that was actually pretty good live, and free parking. There seemed to be a lot more people present than when I was last here in 2016, and everyone around me seemed to have a great time. So with Rossi proving that this new car can definitely race well at ISM, is there really a big problem here other than teams just finding a decent setup?

Dave, Vancouver

RM: Driving from Vancouver to Phoenix has already earned you Fan of the Year and I’m glad to hear you had a good time.

Q: I am happy that NBC and NBC Sports will have all of the races starting next year. The production and on-air personalities are so much more enjoyable to watch. I am happy for more races on network TV, and happy it is all one company to help with more promotion. With that said, what’s the scoop on the numbers? Did IndyCar get a pay raise over their old deal? Will this help the Leaders Circle, and if so how much? Better ratings and all that are great, but I am sure IndyCar teams would love to have Leaders Circle money bumped up.

Andy Brumbaugh

RM: Not privy to that information, but what IndyCar got was a partner that’s going to air more network races, and do a much better job of promoting IndyCar and making it entertaining. That’s worth more than money in some instances.

Q: I agree that IndyCar is has not produced a good race on a short oval at Phoenix, but I don’t see us throwing away all of the ovals (obviously not Indy or Texas). Hell, I think ending the season in an October night race at Fontana would be good for the series. I listened to Will Power’s idea of running cars on the second line with new tires to rubber it in, but I think that the marbling would just make this a moot point after 25 laps. Not sure what can be done to save Phoenix, but I would rather see if we can find another track like Kentucky and Fontana to see if that would work. I know that Mark Miles would have to extend the season to October but I think it would be a good idea.

Jim Christ, West Chester, PA

RM: The title won’t be decided on the west coast after 10 p.m. (take that to the bank) so no Fontana, but I do think it’s very possible that Gateway could host the season finale in 2019. The Midwest is IndyCar’s core audience and Gateway would have as good atmosphere, and ovals always give you a chance at something dramatic at the end of the race. But it won’t be in October.