Q: Really enjoy your written reports and TV work. The Indy Star hasn’t been the same since you left. 1) What happened to the electronic position numbers located behind the driver on either side of the roll bar? I read an article explaining the reason, but did not understand it. (Guess it’s too complicated for a former Terre Haute resident). 2) We have attended the three races at PIR and really enjoyed them. The crowds decreased each year, but that meant more room in the stands.
To us (there are six former Indiana residents who now live here, all big 500 fans), it appears there was little to no promotion for the race. Mr. Sperber give us the impression he’s not interested in continuing the race, but IndyCar is also responsible. Why didn’t Honda arrange for Hinch to appear at a Honda dealership, and why didn’t Roger Penske have his drivers appear at his museum in Scottsdale? We will be disappointed if the Phoenix race were discontinued. Do you have any insight on a possible continuance of the race? Thank you for your excellent and truthful reporting.
Tony Schmitz, Mesa AZ
RM: Thanks for the kind words and being a loyal IndyCar fan. The LED panels were pulled because of some glitches and won’t be re-installed until they’re fixed. I do think Sperber wants IndyCar to continue and he was gung-ho about celebrating Mario’s last win, but we have to remember that IndyCar is the co-promoter at Phoenix. So its IndyCar’s responsibility to help promote the race as well. My niece lives in Glendale and she said the race was a well-kept secret. But I imagine it will continue as long as IndyCar pays the bills and doesn’t charge a sanction fee.
Q: I read your article about the gloom and doom that is IndyCar oval racing, and I had an idea. Is there any possibility of IndyCar using a temporary oval/roval like what Caesars Palace had in 1983 and ’84? If you don’t know the answer, please harp on the drivers and Mark Miles to make it happen at a new venue. I think it can save, if not rejuvenate, oval racing as we know it. Imagine a flat oval as bumpy as Long Beach, Edmonton, Cleveland (and yes, the IRL almost made that happen)…
Believe it or not, one of the worst F1 tracks became one of the best oval tracks ever… and it was a temporary one. The 1984 race was a classic, and any IndyCar fan, self-respecting or self-hating, needs to watch that. None other than Michael Andretti debuted there in 1983, and about eight people could have won 1984. For those of you who remember the races in Rio, well, imagine that… but like everything you love about NASCAR short track racing from 20 years ago. Reminder to watch the 1984 Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix. Yes, the TV broadcast was 30 minutes. It’s worth it.
C.W., Chicago, IL
RM: Caesar’s started as a road course and was modified by CART in the second year as a roval, and sported some good racing. The CART attendance seemed a little better than the F1 draw three years before, but Caesar’s wasn’t enamored because it didn’t bring the international crowd. Airports remain the best options, Edmonton was a bad-ass circuit that drew massive crowds for a couple of years and lost millions in Champ Car. Burke Lakefront at Cleveland was a well-attended bastion for CART before it lost its sponsorship and fan interest in Champ Car. The key is finding a piece of property in a city that can afford to invest in a race that won’t make any money, and can’t even break even with a big title sponsor. Good luck.