Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 16, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 16, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

IndyCar

Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 16, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Image by Levitt/LAT

Q: Have you heard anything about potential sponsors to replace Verizon for the 2019 season and beyond? Couldn’t the Hulman family pick somebody other than Tony George to give the starting command? I know he’s part of the family and has a passion for motorsports, but him giving the command gives me and other race fans a bad taste, remembering how he played a role in ruining the Indy 500 and open-wheel racing in North America. I’d rather have Mark Miles give the command because he made the smart move of dumping ABC for good and giving NBC full-time broadcasting rights. How come you don’t write any more Indy 500 quizzes? Those were always fun to read.

Raymond, Monroe, MI

RM: Nobody in the pipeline to replace Verizon at the moment to my knowledge. TG is president of the board and IMS museum, and the obvious choice since Mari’s health is failing and none of his sisters seem to want the job. The command has always come from the Hulman/George family, and that’s one tradition still standing and not likely to change. Might have a multiple choice quiz next week. Thanks.

Q: Well Miller, the inevitable happened. We receive Channel 7 from Chicago, and the Cubs’ game was two-and-a-half hours late due to rain. So guess what? No race. So, all of Chicago missed the race on ABC. Tried to go to IndyCar.com, but couldn’t log on for some reason. Can’t wait for ABC to leave the scene.

Bob Shomaker, Dixon, IL

RM: Sorry but not really ABC’s fault, it’s your local affiliate, and I’m pretty sure the Cubs take precedent over any kind of race on four wheels or four legs.

Q: ABC can’t go away fast enough. I attended my third Indy Grand Prix in a row, I live in the Chicago area and came home to watch the race on TV only to find the ABC station in Chicago had broadcast the Cubs game. Chicago has to be a significant market for IndyCar, and no coverage. Was able to see the race online, coverage was terrible compared to what we get from NBC. Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy are way better, more knowledgeable and more entertaining in large part because they don’t talk down to the audience, and is there anybody more exciting than Leigh Diffey calling a race, or anything else for that matter? He could make watching paint dry exciting.

Is there any way NBC can cover the Indy 500 this year? I hope NBC is wise enough to make sure that you and Jon Beekhuis are part of the coverage as well. Also, don’t know why people knock the Indy Grand Prix. I’ve gone the last three years – lots to do, lots of on track action, it seems the crowd is building, and the races are pretty good. The course is laid out well, with a couple of great straights for passing. It will continue to be a regular for me.

Bob Rundgren, Villa Park, IL

RM: No chance NBC can take over this year, but I think next May will look completely different and you will be pleased. Beekhuis joins the NBC after Marty Snider goes to NASCAR in July, and I would imagine he’ll be part of the NBC team next season. Just about everyone I talked to that attended the race felt like you – they had a good time and were entertained.

Q: I’m driving home from picking up supplies at the hardware store and I have a local sports talk show called PA Sports Saturday on the radio. They have Jeremy Elliott, who covers sprint car racing locally in PA, and has a website that covers sprint cars. Talk moved from sprint cars to the Indy 500, Danica’s last race, and one host brought up that this is the last year for the race on ABC. The host said the move to NBC will be good because they have the space to better promote the sport. Jeremy didn’t sound convinced, and said that NBC needs to keep the current broadcast team in place. He said Cheever and Goodyear are the best, and provide such an intelligent broadcast. I did everything I could to not drive off the road. I’m getting the feeling he’s never watched one of their broadcasts. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the best?

Matt Demey, Middletown, PA

RM: Jeremy would be in the minority but that’s why America is a great country – we can all express our opinion. Glad you didn’t wreck.

Q: Of all the races this past weekend, IndyCar still provided the best racing.! I have one question/request/observation – the ABC broadcast opened with the broadcast crew and the front stretch as the backdrop! A vast sea of empty stands. The front stretch for the Indy 500 is an ideal backdrop to start the broadcast, not the Indy GP. Please lobby NBC to do something different next year.

R.I. Brown, Smithfield, Va.

RM: Didn’t see the shot you’re referring to but sometimes its tough to cover up 225,000 empty seats, and I’m sure NBC will do lots of things differently in 2019.

Q: Power comes out on reds, Wickens is on blacks and everyone except the ABC director knows a pass for the lead is imminent… commercial time! Hate to bitch, but now counting down until ABC is gone.

Gray Fowler, Texas

RM: It was pretty obvious, and we were even yelling in the media center so stay with it because you could see Will chewing up Robert’s lead.

Q: Did you see the grandness NBC brought to a rainy Kentucky Derby? If they can make an all day event out of a two-minute race, imagine what they can do for a 230mph race? There is a festival of hats that the ladies wear and the mint juleps. Heck, I knew of three Kentucky Derby parties, with peoples betting on the horses. What are your thoughts about what NBC will be doing to make the Indy 500 a bigger TV festival than the Derby?

Mark, Altadena, CA

RM: I’ve said from Day 1 that NBC will do for the Indy 500 what it’s done for the Kentucky Derby because it excels at covering big events. I think we’ll have lots of elements for qualifying and Race Day in 2019. And I think NBC will promote the hell out of having the two biggest races in America in May.

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