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

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Photo by Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Q: I can’t agree more with you more regarding the IMS Hall of Fame changing its policy to allow drivers outside of the 500 to be inducted. In my opinion it takes away the prestige of the HOF, and is preventing more deserving individuals to be inducted – particularly those who drove in a time when you had to earn your spot to drive at Indy. My hope was that Johnny Boyd would be inducted for all that he did during his career, and afterwards as a great ambassador of the race. My question for you is, outside of Art Pollard, who you’ve stated you would put in the HOF, who would be your top three nominees?

Brett, Indianapolis

RM: Jim Hurtubise, Mike Mosley and Bill Finley.

Q: In almost every series we hear about drivers not being able to pass. The tire companies rely on feedback from the teams and drivers in developing tires for each track. My question is, when the drivers and teams are asked, what do they want: tires that make it easier to pass, or harder to pass? The answer is always, “we want tires that make it harder to pass.” What do we expect when the tire companies purposely make tires that make it harder to pass? Go figure.

Sam Scott

RM: I hear drivers say they favor tires that go off so you have to try and protect them, but I don’t hear much “make ’em harder to pass.”

Q: I can’t agree more with you more regarding the IMS Hall of Fame changing its policy to allow drivers outside of the 500 to be inducted. In my opinion it takes away the prestige of the HOF, and is preventing more deserving individuals to be inducted – particularly those who drove in a time when you had to earn your spot to drive at Indy. My hope was that Johnny Boyd would be inducted for all that he did during his career, and afterwards as a great ambassador of the race. My question for you is, outside of Art Pollard, who you’ve stated you would put in the HOF, who would be your top three nominees?

Brett, Indianapolis

RM: Jim Hurtubise, Mike Mosley and Bill Finley.

Q: As successful as the natural road course events have been at Barber, Mid Ohio and Elkhart Lake, has IndyCar ever looked at Road Atlanta? Seems like they would put on a great show there.

Dan Eversole, St. Louis

RM: They probably would but the concern has always been the speeds and lack of runoff area, so sadly, Road Atlanta isn’t likely to ever host an IndyCar race.

Q: I am a European IndyCar fan. I got hooked after watching Takuma Sato – the only driver I knew from the whole grid, to be frank – win the 2017 Indy 500, so I can call myself the Alonsoboomer, I guess

Being a fan of Indy, in Europe, in a country far away from any European Indy drivers to cheer for, and any race drivers in particular apart from the one trying desperately to save Williams from drowning (hint – I live in Poland) ain’t easy, but it also gives an unique perspective on what the IndyCar situation looks like. So why does it seems to me that IndyCar sucks at marketing anywhere outside the U.S.? Hell, it sucks at marketing outside the state of Indiana!

The greatest example is Alonsomania – there was little to no attempt to benefit from it here across the pond. Even IMSA managed to gain from Fernando running the Rolex 24 – they sold three hours of the race to Eurosport, the Europe’s ESPN, and the series got at least some money and some exposure around Europe. Not much, but still something! IndyCar had the biggest European star since Mansell, and they haven’t managed to gain anything in Europe outside of the most hardcore racing fan base. All they had to do was to try and make a deal with Eurosport, or some of the national broadcasters, to put the race on TV and try to expand here.

It worked here before – CART and CCWS managed to get a following, because they were on TV for many years since Mansellmania (and even before that) until the death of CCWS and reunification. Maybe I am too naive, but it seems to me like a wonderful opportunity was wasted. I watched the race on a dodgy internet stream, not being able to give any money to IndyCar, but am able to watch NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 nearly anywhere in Europe. They seem to be successful, even despite a questionable on-track product. Who is to blame here? Lack of strategy on IndyCar’s management side? ESPN International’s I-don’t-give-a toss approach? Given that next year the TV deal goes to NBC, is there any potential for change? Without it, any future attempts at returning to racing in Europe, or luring significant European talent, may be met with indifference.

Filip, Poland

RM: I think IndyCar benefitted greatly worldwide from Alonso (two million watched his IMS test online) but I don’t think there was a way to quantify what the total numbers were for the month of May. Mansell was easier to calibrate because of all the F1 journos who covered him at Indy and during the season, but IndyCar’s biggest challenge isn’t selling F1 champs that dabble in Indy cars – it’s marketing its full-time American drivers in North America.

Q: I love and respect you, but you are all wrong. You keep wondering why IndyCar isn’t popular when it has the best racing in the world, besides Phoenix. Just a few years ago everyone was all-in on different aero packages to make the cars look different. We wanted a difference. Now, all of a sudden, we have to go spec for price and competitiveness. What does it take to satisfy this crowd? When I was a kid going to the 1967 Indy 500, I wasn’t going because it was extremely competitive, I went because I loved A.J. Foyt, and there were all kinds of crazy cars to look at,and it was the fastest thing going. It’s not the tracks, it’s the cars!

People don’t care if it’s competitive if all the cars look the same. NASCAR is popular because you have a bunch of lame brains that don’t understand real racing. They just want to root for one certain driver or brand. I don’t know how people watch those races. I DVR, and fastforward yellow to pit stop to yellow until the end. I watch every lap of an IndyCar race still. They just intrigue me more every lap. I’m sad about the present condition of IndyCar. I still love it. I spend every moment I can at practice, in the garage area, and qualifications at Indy every year. When I retire next year, I plan to follow as many races I can, God willing. Lord help our sport! Where’s the Duke Tumato when we need him?

Tim B.

RM: I know a lot of us older types miss those great days of Indy innovation, but I’m not really sure it would make much difference today in terms of how many people watch or attend. I always argue with A.J. when he says Indy made him and I differ: no, I came to Indy to watch you and Rufus and Mario and Herk. The cars were part of the lure, but the drivers were my hook. And the speeds. But since everything is spec nowadays, the close racing is all we’ve got to promote, and that doesn’t seem to be enough.

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