Q: Wasn’t Brendon Hartley in line for the Ganassi seat before being offered the Toro Rosso seat? I wonder if he made the wrong decision. It’s amazing how F1 chews up and spits out drivers, in some cases ruining their careers. Look at Sebastien Bourdais. I would say the biggest difference between IndyCars and F1 is that the IndyCar drivers look like they’re having fun and generally like each other.
Jim Doyle, Hoboken, NJ
RM: Sure looks like the wrong decision today, and now they’re aren’t any good sports car seats left. But don’t lump Seb in with Hartley. He told Toro Rosso he couldn’t drive the car they’d designed, but he still got a few top 10s.
Q: With Brendon Hartley seemingly on his way out of Formula 1 after a season and change, what does the Ed Jones seat at Ganassi look like? Was that a multi-year contract, or do you think Chip will go back to the original plan with Hartley? Is there any bad blood there because Hartley went to F1 instead? Or does Chip secretly love Hartley because of the buyout that Toro Rosso/Red Bull gave him? Also, not sure about Felix Rosenqvist’s contract in Formula E but we know he’s been coveted by Ganassi for a few years now. Is Ed Jones safe, or do you think he’ll get replaced by one of these two talents from outside the series?
Ryan Ward, San Jose, CA
RM: I think Chip was more than happy to sell Hartley, and I think he’s happy with the Jones boy. But I do think Felix may be in line for the Scuderia Corsa ride if it becomes full-time.
Q: Has IndyCar ever considered “rovals” like Daytona uses for the 24 Hours at any tracks that could offer it? Maybe there aren’t that many, but it seems like it could be a cool concept. The only major issue I can see is the clearance for the cars when they have to transition from road course to oval, but that wouldn’t be much different from pitting at high-banked ovals, and Daytona does it all on the flatter straights. Was it ever thought about, or is it not possible since many of those tracks are NASCAR tracks?
Also, what about the idea of an endurance race for one event? OK, I realize this is an out-there concept and probably not cost-effective but how cool would it be to have a 12-hour event at a track like Road America and then partner up drivers? Then you bring in some other drivers from other disciplines to give it a go with regulars. Two-car teams can run one car, and pair their drivers or run both with visiting drivers. They do something like this in the Supercar series in Australia, and it’s pretty wild. And if they do it on a race weekend that other series have off, we can get some pretty cool names to join. Do you find that teams, drivers, or the higher ups at IndyCar shoot down anything outside the norm, or do you feel they are open-minded to even the slightly wild concepts we fans like to dream up?
Erik Steinbrecher, Oswego, IL
RM: I recall the IRL testing at Daytona on its roval, but I don’t think anyone ever gave a racing there any serious thought. There are plenty of good, natural road courses for IndyCar, it doesn’t need Charlotte or Daytona. The logistics and financing of putting together an endurance race like you proposed would likely be impossible to pull together (and bringing back IROC would likely be more appealing but just about impossible because of today’s driver contracts and schedules). I think IndyCar is concentrating on how to put together its best possible schedule, find another manufacturer and find a new title sponsor.
Q: Perhaps I swim against the tide, but I’ve never been a fan of teams having to run two different tire compounds, as well as having the push-to-pass technology. I do understand that, for some, these two items add more flavor (i.e. strategy) to the competition. However, I would prefer that everyone should be on the same playing field throughout the event. Your thoughts?
On another note, now that Portland is back on the schedule this year, one would think that our local sports writers/broadcasters would be highlighting IndyCar now and then, in order to drum up more local interest. Other than Indy, there’s nary a mention of sport as the season progresses. I would imagine that IndyCar is sending them regular press releases, but perhaps they are being ignored. If so, that’s a shame.
RM: Firestone’s black and red tires have made strategy and racing/qualifying pretty cool, so I don’t mind that at all. Push-to-pass I could do without. Portland probably doesn’t have a full-time motorsports writer, but I’m sure IndyCar will get coverage as the race approaches. I’m more concerned about how it’s being promoted and marketed.
Q: I have been a race fan all my life. My parents would go to IMSA and NASCAR races as dates before I came into the world. I grew up watching tapes of old Camel GT, Formula 1 and NASCAR races. Even with all of that, IndyCar was only ever talked about at when the Indy 500 was on. I distinctly remember watching the ending of the 1996 500, but sadly that is it. I recently got into IndyCar, and have been watching old races when and where I can. I want to catch up on all of the stuff I missed. I want to see some of the greats like Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Big and Little Al, etc. What is your best season from the CART era and why? Love the Mailbag. It is one of the highlights of my week.
Tyler from Morgantown, WV
RM: I thought 1968 was the best season ever, because it featured 26 races (five dirt, nine road courses, 11 ovals and one mountain climb) and came down to the last laps between Bobby Unser and Mario. As for the best CART season? In terms of attendance and coverage it was 1993, when Nigel Mansell came over and won the championship. In terms of competition, 1999 was pretty good (10 different winners in 20 races) and so was 2001 (11 winners in 20 races). And 1985 was cool because it came down to Big Al vs. Little Al in the season finale.