Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 9, presented by Honda Racing/HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 9, presented by Honda Racing/HPD

IndyCar

Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 9, presented by Honda Racing/HPD

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Mario Andretti, 1987 Indy 500. Image by IMS

Q: Who are the two drivers of past Indy 500 with the worst luck in terms of having the potential winning/best car?

JR, Northlake, Ill.

RM: That’s a huge list. In 1952 Vuky was long gone and his steering failed with nine laps left, Parnelli Jones and the turbine in 1967, Mario with a two-lap lead in 1987, and Michael Andretti with a two-lap lead in 1992 are the four that immediately come to mind. They could all but see the checkered flag.

Q: I was thinking the other day of how Sam Hornish Jr. used to be the poster boy for the IRL and dominate the series back in the day. He seems to have vanished. I know he went to NASCAR for a while, but I guess that didn’t pan out.

Doug Ferguson, Debary Florida

RM: He runs a couple Xfinity races a year and I think he’s won a couple of them, but he went to NASCAR because R.P. asked him to and Sam had already won Indy and the championship three times, so why not give stock cars a try? Especially if The Captain asks nicely.

Q: Just an observation regarding how get the younger crowd interested in IndyCar and grow the sport. My son, who is 15, has become a massive F1 fan over the past two years. While I influenced him with racing by taking him to various IndyCar races and the 500 every year in the T2 Deck, he has latched on to F1 because of one thing: a dedicated video game for F1 on XBox. We bought a racing chair and wheel because we wanted to race, and the F1 game was what we bought because there was no dedicated IndyCar game available. Since then, he subscribes to videos, reads all the F1 websites, and does not miss a single practice, qualifying, or race. So an investment by IndyCar now might lead to a huge ROI down the road with younger fans. Now, for his birthday this year, I have to take him down to Austin for $600 tickets and $60 T-shirts. Go figure! Myself on the other hand, will always remain true to IndyCar.

Rod, West Chester, Ohio

RM: From C.J. O’Donnell, chief marketing officer of IMS/IndyCar: “We are expanding our presence in gaming. INDYCAR has a larger presence in the latest releases from Project Cars and iRacing. Forza is also adding the new INDYCAR to its platform this season. Unfortunately, we do not have a game developer signed to build an INDYCAR branded / dedicated platform (at least, not yet). Discussions regarding this feature platform are ongoing, and we hope to have some good news in the coming year.”

Q: Does IMS intend to honor Dan Gurney at this year’s Indy 500? I would hope so. Would be cool to see a retro All-American Racers livery on one of the cars! (I know, sponsors…) Speaking of retro, the aero screen is a throwback to the wrap-around windscreens of 60s/70s/80s Indy cars. Looking at in close-up, the corners of top edge appear a bit sharp. They’ve probably already considered this, but it looks like those sharp edges could be a potential hazard in a major wreck. I know this version is just a prototype, but is the intention to round off the top edge? Thanks, and good to see you back in action!

Chris Pericak, Charlottesville, VA

RM: Yes they will, likely on Race Day. As for the windscreen, IndyCar is being very diligent in its testing and driver safety is paramount, so I’m sure your concerns are already addressed.

Q: As much as I disliked the fact that open-wheel was becoming more of a closed cockpit form of motorsport, I’m actually pretty happy with the design of the windscreen. Although I was wondering: if they’re trying to add a bigger screen to the car, why don’t they just go back to the ’80s look? Also, whatever happened to Bieffe helmets? And who are your picks for the 500 (mine are Veach, Helio, and Howard)?

Parker Allen

RM: Doesn’t look nearly as offensive as F1, but it’s still a work in progress and has some fine-tuning left, but should be ready for 2019. Never heard of Bieffe helmets. Helio, Rahal and somebody from Andretti Autosport.

Q: I watched that great documentary regarding the Ford GT40 recently. A name that I would have not have associated with sports car racing surfaced – Lloyd Ruby. I always remembered him as the guy behind the wheel of an Offy-powered “something.” Seems like my type of guy – he would race anything they stuck under his butt. Aside from his bad luck at Indy, do you think the current generation of young IndyCar talent can learn from his career (sports car experience) and what was Lloyd Ruby the man like?

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

RM: Rube was a damn good road racer, an accomplished midget racer, a pretty fair motorcycler and a badass at Indy, of course. But those were the days when A.J., Mario, Parnelli, Gurney and the Unsers would drive anything on any given weekend, and why that kind of versatility no longer exists. It could if drivers were allowed to move around, but only Kyle Larson (and Tony Stewart in his NASCAR days) seem to have that freedom. True, several IndyCar drivers are allowed to run the Rolex or Sebring, but being in a race car every weekend just developed those old heroes so much faster. Gurney said a couple years ago he felt bad for today’s racers because they’re so restricted. And I agree.

Q: With the month of May upon us, there are lot Indy stories out there. I just read one about Jim Hurtubise’s Mallard being the last front-engine car to make the field in 1968. The article was stating that they went through a number of blown motors that month. Did they ever determine what was causing them to loose so many motors?

Jeff Copp, Fremont, CA.

RM: I stooged for Herk that month (there will be a story on RACER.com soon) and my best guess (because I got fired after four days) is that he built his own engines and didn’t always have the best stuff. I do know that he went through more than a dozen and needed to borrow from Fred Gerhardt and someone else to make the show.

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